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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Blue Jays pound Twins, 9-3

MINNEAPOLIS -- Toronto's Brett Lawrie smashed a ninth inning grand slam, which put the finishing touches on the Blue Jays 9-3 win over the Twins at Target Field last night in Minneapolis.  Chris Colabello had three hits and an RBI, while Trevor Plouffe hit his first homer of the season for Minnesota.  Joe Mauer put Minnesota ahead 2-0 with a second inning basehit.  Twins right-hander Phil Hughes took the loss after working five scoreless innings.  Hughes could not record an out in the sixth inning and allowed four runs.  Toronto never looked back.  The three-game series continues tonight with Mike Pelfrey throwing for Minnesota and former Twin R.A. Dickey getting the nod for the Jays.  First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

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The Golden Gopher baseball team beat North Dakota State 5-3 yesterday at Siebert Field on the U of M campus.  Freshman catcher Austin Athmann of Cold Spring collected three hits to pace Minnesota.  The Gophers are now 18-and-14 overall and play a three-game Big Ten series at Iowa this weekend, beginning on Friday.

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The Minnesota Wild start their opening round NHL playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night in Denver.  The Wild earned the first Wild Card spot in the West with 98 points.  The Avs won the Central Division with 112 points.  Game Two is also in Denver on Saturday, with Game's Three and Four in St. Paul next Monday and Thursday, respectively.  Wild center Mikael Granlund is hoping to play in tomorrow's game.  He has been suffering from an apparent head injury and skated with the team at practice yesterday.  Granlund says if he plays, he thinks the second line will pick up where it left off, with him centering.  The puck drops tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves close out the season tonight against the Utah Jazz at the Target Center.  Minnesota has lost three of its last four games after Monday's 130-120 setback at Golden State.  The T'wolves are 40-and-41 on the year and need a win to avoid another losing record.  The Jazz have lost five straight to dip to 24-and-57.  Tip time tonight is 7 p.m. in Minneapolis.

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The Minnesota Vikings have signed tight end Allen Reisner.  Reisner has been with the Vikings before.  He is a University of Iowa product.  Reisner has seven catches for 58 yards in 15 career NFL games.  He most recently played with Jacksonville.  The team also claimed linebacker Terrell Manning off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.  Manning has three tackles in six career games.  Manning played college football at North Carolina State.

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Former NFL safety Darren Sharper will have to wait a little longer for his next court appearance regarding rape charges in Los Angeles.  A hearing for Sharper set for yesterday was postponed until this morning.  Sharper is charged with drugging and raping two women he allegedly met in a West Hollywood club.  The Pro Bowler faces similar charges in several other states.  Sharper played a portion of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Minnesota State University-Mankato is apologizing to fired football coach Todd Hoffner and bringing him back to the job today.  An arbitrator ruled last week that he was fired unfairly over allegations of having pornographic photos of his kids on his university-issued cell phone.  Hoffner said Tuesday in Minneapolis that it was not an easy decision to come back to MSU-Mankato after being hired in January as the head football coach at Minot State University in North Dakota.  He adds that he plans to use the firing and rehiring as a lesson for his players about fighting through adversity. 

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St. Thomas junior Bennett Schroeder of Eden Prairie is this week's MIAC men's golf Athlete of the Week.  St. Thomas senior Doyle O'Brien of Madison, Wisconsin is the league's women's golf Athlete of the Week.  Augustana senior Allie Ostrander of Glenwood is this week's NSIC women's golf Athlete of the Week.

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The NCAA is making several rule changes.  The Legislative Council announced Tuesday that student-athletes will be allowed unlimited meals and snacks in an effort to meet their nutritional needs.  The NCAA also voted to require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body, reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs, require a school staff member to be certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation, and require football players to rest at least three hours between preseason practices.  The moves will take effect August 1st, with the exception to the strength and conditioning coach certification requirement.  No action is considered final until the Division One Board of Directors meet April 24th.

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