Photos By Joe Kerlin
It’s been five years since the Bison went to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and defeated the Golden Gophers’ baseball team. On NDSU’s first trip to U.S. Bank Stadium, they bucked the losing streak and gave Minnesota their first loss inside their new winter home.
The 3-1 victory was nearly a shutout as the Gophers squeaked across a run in the bottom of the ninth due to a throwing error by relief pitcher Chris Choles.
Choles went three-and-one-third innings, allowing one hit and one unearned run. He came on in relief after five shutout innings from starter Blake Stockert. Kevin Folman took the ball in the ninth, in mop up duty, and got the final two outs.
The big blast of the day came from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, native Logan Busch, who sent a rocket over the tall 34-foot right field baggie in the top of the seventh. The home run also sent a crowd of 910 into jubilation as the Bison took a 2-0 lead.
The first base line at U.S. Bank Stadium was littered with Bison fans, who would’ve been sitting behind the east end zone during a football game. Many among them were players’ families, former Bison baseball players and NDSU alum.
U.S. Bank Stadium is set to host 136 baseball games this spring. The Bison will play one game in the new Vikings stadium in 2017, but head coach Tod Brown is hoping to get as many games as possible next year to reduce the team’s travel.
2013 was the last time the Bison played indoors in Minneapolis. NDSU pitchers Sean Terres and Zach Mayo were the only players on the 2017 roster who were with the Bison when they played their last game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The Metrodome atmosphere was back inside U.S. Bank Stadium, although, the new billion-dollar football palace seemed cozier for fans, according to Choles father, Fost, who was seated above the first base line.
Both bullpens were placed beyond the temporary dugouts that looked more like mobile sheds than an inground facility for bench players. The pitching mound and batter’s box were all turf, and the white yard lines on the football field were slowly creeping back into sight after being painted green in an attempt to mask the random stripes that went through the infield.
Former Bison baseball players were sprinkled around U.S. Bank Stadium to watch the Bison. This photo includes Tim Colwell, Wes Satzinger, Parker Trewin and Nick Altavilla.
The outfield was said to play big and resemble more of a Major League field. The roof is the biggest difference for players. The Metrodome was known for its airsupported Teflon roofing. U.S. Bank Stadium’s windows on the ceiling are mixed in with rafters so the backdrop was a grayish tone for fielders. Communication between infielders and outfielders was especially important, said starting shortstop Matt Elsenpeter.
2014 NDSU graduate Brittany Gefroh came to U.S. Bank Stadium to watch her beloved Bison. The Bismarck, North Dakota, native is graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School this spring and will be back in Fargo this summer. “I wanted to get in the stadium one last time before I moved because it’s so expensive getting in here for a Vikings game,” she said.
The Bison return to Minneapolis April 4, to play the Gophers but will play outdoors at Siebert Field. The 2018 schedule is more than six months away from being released, but if Brown had to conjure a guess, he’d say the Bison will be back inside US Bank Stadium more than once.