Kentucky's 21-inning game yields amazing trivia

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJune 2, 2012 

GARY, Ind. — Friday's 7-6, 21-inning victory by Kent State over Kentucky came with mind-boggling factoids.

Ten pitchers — five on each team — combined to throw 678 pitches, 447 for strikes.

A game that began at 4 p.m. ET under total cloud cover and winds gusting to 29 mph gave way to sunny sky and very little wind, then more clouds, and darkness.

The teams combined for 154 at-bats, 77 by each.

Attendance was announced at 796. As the game went on (and on ... ), Purdue-Valparaiso fans filtered in. The attendance was revised to 5,016.

At 6 hours, 37 minutes, someone listening to the first inning on radio in Lexington would have had time to drive (not speed) to Gary in time to see three or four innings.

Kent's George Roberts began the game 5-for-5, but finished on an 0-for-5 streak.

Kentucky closer Trevor Gott threw more innings (four) than starter Taylor Rogers (32⁄3). Gott also struck out in his first collegiate at-bat.

UK's Steven Hoagland had more at bats in the game (five) than he had all season (three).

Each team had a player with five hits — Kent's Roberts and UK's Zac Zellers.

Kent State batters struck out 26 times. UK batters whiffed 21 times.

A.J. Reed began the game as the Cats' designated hitter, moved to first base in the ninth and pitched the last nine innings.

Kent freshman Alex Miklos knocked the triple off Reed that scored the winning run.

"He'd been pitching for a while and I felt like I was squaring a few balls up in my previous at-bats, and I really felt like he was relying on his fastball," Miklos said. "I think I might have seen only two or three breaking balls. So I was just looking for a pitch, something I could work with out over the plate. ... I squared this one up; didn't get under it like before."

Pitching recovery

How big a lift did Jerad Grundy and Chandler Shepherd give the Cats by combining for nine innings of seven-hit ball Saturday?

"It was huge, tremendous," Coach Gary Henderson said. "We were set to throw anybody and everybody to win the game. I'd already made that decision early this morning. This gives us a chance now to win a couple ball games (Sunday).

"Obviously, one at a time, and we do a good job of that. We do a great job of that. But this puts us in a position to be able to do something, certainly with the first ball game tomorrow because Corey's ready to go."

Henderson said Sunday starter Corey Littrell (8-2, 2.66) would have been used, if necessary, Saturday.

'Bro Wild'

For batting practice, Valparaiso players wear shirts emblazoned with "Bro" on the front, "Wild 36" on back.

The shirts are a tribute to the brother of Crusaders starting pitcher Kevin Wild.

Shaun Wild was murdered in February near Chicago. An ardent follower of Valpo, he knew most of the players on the team, who referred to him as "Bro Wild."

The "36" was Shaun Wild's football uniform number at North Central College.

Signs of the times

U.S. Steel Yard is home to the Gary Southshore RailCats of the independent-professional American Association.

Host team Purdue, 92 miles from Gary, has a $10 million facility under construction but, for now, does not yet have a stadium suitable for an NCAA regional.

To meet NCAA guidelines, some U.S. Steel Yard advertising had to be covered or removed — including those touting beer products and the Hoosier Lottery. Beer advertisers include Corona (on the scoreboard), Miller and Coors "party decks" and Miller Lite umbrellas in a patio area.

The bottom half of the Corona add was covered with four NCAA logos. However, the top half — tops of a pair of bottles with the notation "relax responsibly," was uncovered.

Similarly, the Coors "Cold Zone" was partly covered with the tourney logo, "zone" still in view; and the Miller Party Deck still showed "Deck."

Numbers

■ Valpo second baseman Tanner Vavra, son of Minnesota Twins coach Joe Vavra, came into Saturday's game hitting .332. A right-handed hitter, he is blind in one eye.

■ Six of UK's eight runs against Valpo were scored with two outs. The Crusaders had similar problems during Friday's 7-2 loss to Purdue.

"It was just awful," Valpo Coach Tracy Woodson said. "All of them (Friday) night, all seven probably should have been unearned; but every one of them came right after an error. You can't allow that. That's way too many runs with two outs. You get two outs, you've got to bear down and get guys out."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

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