Kentucky eliminates host Purdue
Sophomore Littrell goes 7.1 strong to lead Wildcats to final
GARY, Ind. -- With the No. 11 Kentucky pitching staff in need of a strong start, sophomore southpaw Corey Littrell delivered 7.1 innings in a winning effort, leading the Wildcats to a 6-3 win against No. 14 Purdue on Sunday, eliminating the host Boilermakers and advancing to the NCAA Gary Regional final.
Kentucky (45-17) has now shattered the school record with its 45th win, eclipsing the 44 wins in 2006 and 2008. The Wildcats have now equaled their best NCAA tournament finish in program history, also done in 1988, 2006 and 2008. UK will now need to beat Kent State at 8 p.m. ET at U.S. Steel Yard to force the if-necessary game on Monday at 1 p.m. ET with the Flashes. The two teams have already squared off in a classic 21-inning marathon on Friday night, a 7-6 Kent State win that forced the Wildcats to fight back into the championship round from the loser’s bracket.
Littrell (9-2) worked 7.1 innings for a pitching-depleted UK team after playing the 21-inning game on Friday. He allowed seven hits and three runs, walking two and striking out seven. He was replaced by senior Alex Phillips in the eighth, who got the final two outs of the inning and finished off the game for his eighth save of the year, the second-most saves in UK single-season history, just behind the record nine saves from sophomore Trevor Gott.
Purdue is the second consecutive Big Ten host site that the Wildcats have eliminated in the NCAA tournament. UK eliminated the host Michigan Wolverines in 2008 in the first NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.
The Wildcats charted an 11-hit attack in the game, including hanging a four run inning in the fourth. UK was led by a three-hit game from Thomas McCarthy and a two-hit game from Luke Maile and Zac Zellers. UK also got hits from Matt Reida, Cameron Flynn, J.T. Riddle and Austin Cousino. Michael Williams added a sacrifice fly and a pair of sacrifice bunts.
Purdue (45-15) starter Robert Ramer (6-1) worked 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and four runs – two earned – striking out two. Blake Mascarello replaced him in the fourth and worked 3.2 innings, allowing six hits and one run, walking one and striking out one. Nick Wittgren worked two innings, allowing one hit and one run.