Notes, Video & More…
Gary, Ind. — After playing the second-longest game in NCAA Tournament history Friday night Kent State and Kentucky showed no hangovers on Saturday. It took six hours and 38 minutes for Kent State to win that game 7-6, and not many thought either the Wildcats or Golden Flashes would come out of it with much left in the tank on Saturday.
They were wrong.
The Wildcats bounced back with a convincing 8-1 elimination game victory over Valparaiso, while No. 3 seed Kent State improved to 2-0 in the Gary Regional with its 7-3 win over No. 1 seed Purdue. Here are some more notes from Saturday’s action at the Steel Yard.
The Road To Omaha leads to TD Ameritrade Park and The Dugout – located right across the street from TDA’s home plate entrance. The Dugouthas a ton of authentic college baseball caps – just like the ones the players wear on the field.
If you’re going to Omaha for the College World Series make sure to make your first stop The Dugout for all officially licensed CWS apparel. If you can’t make it to Omaha just follow our red links to The Dugout!
#2 Kentucky – 8 … # 4 Valparaiso – 1
(Video Interviews Below)
The best news for head coach Gary Henderson was after using five pitchers Friday night Kentucky used just two arms in Satuday’s win. Starter Jerad Grundy allowed just a run in 6.0 innings, while Chandler Shepherd worked the final 3.0 innings to earn his first save of the season.
“I don’t know the right word, but it was huge,” Henderson said of only needing two pitchers to get through the game. “We were set to throw anybody and everybody to win the game. We made that decision early this morning. This gives us a chance now to win a couple ball games tomorrow.”
The Wildcats now play Purdue in Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET elimination game and if they win that game they move into the championship round for a rematch with the Golden Flashes.
Kentucky’s Mike Williams caught all 21 innings of Friday’s 7-6 loss to Kent State. The senior was behind the plate for all nine innings of Saturday’s game. “He’s Superman,” is how Henderson referred to Williams after Saturday’s game.
In addition to going 21 innings, Friday’s game also lasted six hours and 38 minutes. In stark contrast, Saturday’s Kentucky-Valpo game was over in a tidy two hours and 24 minutes.
The final score is not as close as it actually was for almost two third of the game. The score was tied 1-1 until Kentucky erupted for five runs in the top of the 6th. They added two more runs in the 8th and 9th.
The Wildcats have scored runs in nine of the 30 innings they have played in the regional. Their pitchers have posted goose eggs in 24 of the 30 innings they have pitched.
Kentucky players & head coach Gary Henderson discuss Saturday’s 8-1 elimination game win over Valparaiso at the Gary Regional.
Valparaiso head coach Tracy Woodson discusses his team’s loss to Kentucky in the Gary, IN Regional as well as the bright future of his program.
#3 Kent State – 7…#1 Purdue – 3
(Video Interviews Below)
Like Kentucky, Kent State went through five pitchers in Friday’s 21-inning game. But while the Wildcats used two pitchers to eliminate Valparaiso, the Golden Flashes needed just Ryan Bores to get the job done against Purdue.
Bores tossed Kent State’s first complete game of the season to improve to 9-2 in the victory.
Meanwhile, Purdue starter Lance Breedlove lasted just 1 2/3 innings, while surrendering six earned runs in the loss.
“He wasn’t getting ahead of hitters like he usually can,” Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber said of Breedlove’s short outing. “He was down, so they weren’t even some challenge pitches I thought. They were getting barrel on the ball…it was just one of those days for Lance.”
Breedlove was knocked-out of the game in a five-run Kent State outburst in the bottom of the second inning that began with two outs.
The uncharacteristic short outing means Schreiber may bring Breedlove back this weekend.
“Possibly tomorrow,” Schreiber said when asked if he would send Breedlove to the mound again before the regional concludes. “If we get this thing going and rolling we haven’t seen the last of him this weekend.”
Joe Haase, who pitched 7.0 innings in Friday’s late night/early morning win over Valpo is the only pitcher Schreiber ruled out for Sunday.
Kent State’s game lasted just two hours and 20 minutes, meaning the combined total of Saturday’s two games was 4:44 and 18 innings, compared to the 6:38 and 21 innings it took to play the first game of the regional.
Kent State has won 19 straight games after the win over Purdue.
The Golden Flashes are one of three No. 3 seeds in the NCAA Tournament to start 2-0. St. John’s, which upset North Carolina Saturday in Chapel Hill, and Ole Miss, with a Saturday win over Texas A&M, are the others.
This is the fourth straight regional appearance for Kent State. The Golden Flashes also started 2-0 at the Austin Regional last year before dropping their last two games to host Texas.
“We’ve got good baseball players,” head coach Scott Stricklin said of his feisty squad. “Guys play hard and believe in what we’re doing. They’re experienced.”
While they might be experienced, they are far from intimidating looking in their uniforms.
“Jimmy Rider (a 5’10, 170 pound senior) looks like Opie Taylor,” Stricklin joked when asked about the unimposing look of his players compared to the more robust looking Purdue and Kentucky teams they’ve beaten so far. “He’s the all-time hit leader in our conference. He’s the best shortstop I’ve seen all year and I know there are good shortstops here, but I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the country.”
Rider was 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs while hitting his team-leading 27th double of the season in the victory. George Roberts, a 6’0 195 pound first baseman, collected five RBIs to give him five in two games and a team-best 62 in 2012.
With a win over either Purdue or Kentucky Sunday night Kent State would become the first MAC team to advance to a Super Regional.
Purdue’s Angelo Cianfrocco is the son of former Major Leaguer Archie Cianfrocco. The younger Cianfrocco is a junior first baseman/outfielder/LHP for the Boilermakers. The elder Cianfrocco also played at Purdue before going on to a career with the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres. Angelo was 2-for-4 with a double Saturday.
Eric Charles was suspended from Purdue’s first NCAA Tournament game since 1987 Friday night for his part in a fight at last weekend’s B1G Tournament. The red shirt second baseman was back in the lineup Saturday though. He was 1-for-4 at the plate in the loss.
Former Purdue basketball player Robbie Hummel was in attendance watching Saturday’s game at the Steel Yard in Gary. Hummel is a Valparaiso, Ind native. He finished his career as the 9th leading scorer in Boilermaker history with 1,772 career points.
Elimination Game: No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 2 Kentucky 4 pm ET
Championship Round: No. 3 Kent State vs. Elmination Game winner – a Kent State win would send the Golden Flashes to a Super Regional to face the Eugene Regional winner. A loss would force a Monday winner take all game with the same team.
Kent state head coach Scott Stricklin discusses his win over Purdue as well as the state of his program on Saturday at the Gary, IN Regional.
Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber discusses his team’s loss to Kent State on Saturday at the Gary, IN NCAA Regional.