MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Not since gas cost 62 cents a gallon has the Gophers baseball team experienced a night as big as Sunday, when they won an NCAA Tournament Regional for the first time since 1977.
Now they’ll move on to face the nation’s No. 3-ranked team, Oregon State, in Corvallis next weekend. WCCO’s David McCoy was there for the celebration.
In 37 years as the Gophers’ head coach, John Anderson had never had a night like this. But it was finally here. And he made sure to soak it all in.
“Just told myself I didn’t know if this day would ever come. But it was here. And I just wanted to make sure I took some time to look around and enjoy the energy and people having fun in the ballpark and watching our team play,” Anderson said. “So I could really enjoy it. And I felt like I did. I really did.”
Anderson was a student coach in 1977, four years before getting the top job. And there was something extra special about doing this on their home field, just like they did back then.
“It reminded me of 1977. Stadium was full. The energy in the stadium. The crowd. The support they gave our team. And also, the way our team played,” Anderson said.
Something else happened in 1977: The Gophers went all the way to the College World Series. Something they’ll do again if they can get through the No. 3-ranked team in the country, Oregon State, on the road.
“Yeah bring ’em on. We know we’re capable of beating anyone in the country. And we’re excited for the opportunity,” Terrin Vavra said.
An opportunity Anderson has waited four decades for, and the appreciation he had for his players finally bringing him this moment was palpable.
“I don’t know what to say to be honest with you. Not very often I’m speechless, but all I can say is wow. What a night,” Anderson said.
The Gophers at No. 3-ranked Oregon State is a best-of-three series. The winner advances to the College World Series.