Minnesota got a bit of help from the umpires on Wednesday afternoon, but they got even more help from an Illini offense that just couldn't come up with the big hit time and time again.
The Illini dropped the first game of the Big Ten Tournament to the Gophers 3-2 after taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Gophers would tie the game up at 2-2 in the fifth inning when Troy Larson scored from second on a single by Andy Henkemeyer. Unfortunately for the Illini the replay showed that catcher Jason Goldstein tagged Larson out before he touched the plate, but the home plate umpire blew the call.
I know, an official blowing a call against the Illini in a tournament game. That's never happened before or anything.
Minnesota would then win the game on a walk-off single in the ninth inning with the bases loaded.
However, had the Illini not left 13 runners on base over the course of the game, none of that would have mattered. When you eight hits and six walks, you should score more than two runs. When you load the bases three times in the same game, you should score more than two runs.
Yes, the Illini loaded the bases three times and only managed to get one run out of it, and that run only scored because Michael Hurwitz drew a walk.
Had the Illini managed just one hit -- just one -- with the bases loaded odds are they'd have scored two runs because of it. What a huge difference that would have made.
The good news for the Illini is that they're not dead yet. They move on to an elimination game tomorrow against the loser of this evening's game between Nebraska and Michigan. If they win that game they move on to fight another day. If they don't, well, see you next year.