I wanted to entitle this one "The Faces of Ryan Hander" because... I shouldn't have to explain that.
Darin Erstad took a gamble when he started Hander against Minnesota while leaving Christian DeLeon on the bench. If Nebraska would have lost, everyone would in the position to second-guess Erstad. As it turns out, Nebraska won and now will face Ohio State with a weekend starter fresh and ready to go.
Well played, Darin Erstad!
Note about Hander. In the postgame presser, Erstad talked about how Hander had gone through hip surgery during the offseason and how much weight and strength he'd lost. Erstad thought that Hander might be able to go four innings, but he game them an extra inning.
Down on the field you could hear how hard Hander was working in that extra inning. Each pitch ended with a grunt and they were getting progressively louder as the inning wore on. He gave up a three-run homer in the fifth, but he still got in that extra inning of work.
Minnesota's dugout had a lot of energy early in the game. Them Gophers were having themselves lots of fun. I suppose that's natural given they'd just survived with a win over Illinois. Nebraska's dugout was more subdued, workmanlike, until the late innings at which point they were more demonstrative.
There's probably too many photos in this gallery. I don't get to do this very often, and I sure as hell don't get to do it at Target Field, so... I'm not apologizing for them!!!