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NCAAT: Kentucky vs Purdue Preview and Game Thread

It's the match-up everyone wants to see: #1 Purdue vs #2 Kentucky! Okay, so the game is in the losers' bracket, but still. With a win over 4 seed Valparaiso yesterday the Wildcats shook off their 21 inning loss Friday night and staved off elimination in the NCAA Tournament. The win was Kentucky's 44th of the season tying them with the 2006 and 2008 squads for the all-time school record. The loser of this game is eliminated while the winner will advance to play Kent State at 8:00 PM tonight. If Kent State loses tonight then a final game will be played tomorrow.

Kentucky sends their best starter - Corey Littrell - to the mound to face a powerful Purdue offense. Littrell is 8-2 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 7.90 K/9. He will need to go deep into the game if the Cats have any chance at winning two today. Robert Ramer will go for the Boilermakers. Ramer is 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 5.36 K/9.

Yesterday's Results:
(2) Kentucky 8, (4) Valparaiso 1 (Valparaiso eliminated)
(3) Kent State 7, (1) Purdue 3

Regional Previews:
A Sea of Blue
Hammer and Rails

Game Info:
All CWS Scores
Live stats via Game Tracker
Radio: 630, 1080-AM radio
Online audio
Live blog
TV: Big Ten Network

Keys to the game:

  • A lot of innings from Littrell. Yeah I know - you heard this yesterday too. Purdue has a really good offense though and the Cats need Littrell to go deep into the game not just to give them a chance to win this one but to also keep as many pitchers rested as possible for the 2nd game should the Cats prevail.
  • Smart baserunning. The Cats stole 5 bases yesterday, went 1st to 3rd on occasion, and advanced on a wild pitch once. That kind of alertness and aggressiveness can be the difference against a good team, but the Cats have to be careful not to run themselves into outs. Robert Ramer does not allow many baserunners so the Cats need to maximize the ones they get.
  • Be aggressive at the plate. Ramer has walked only 2 batters in 47 innings this year for an insanely low 0.38 BB/9. To put that into perspective, the MLB leader among starters this year is Carl Pavano with a 1.14 BB/9. (Pavano is notoriously thrifty with free passes). Ramer doesn't strike out hitters that much, so the Cats will get pitches to hit - they need to be ready for them.

Injury Notes:

Lucas Witt is out again. Luke Maile is a game time decision, but indications are that he will be held back for a possibly pinch hitting role. That means Michael Williams will once again be behind the plate for the Cats. Apparently everyone in the pen is available except for AJ Reed and Taylor Rogers.