(Chet White/UK Athletics)
The battle of the bluegrass never sleeps, and the Cats and the Cards will square off again, this time on the ball field. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or are so anti-baseball you shut any discussion of it out, you know the Cats are having a heck of a season so far. They’re ranked No. 1 in the nation in one poll, and just came off a series victory over No. 10 Ole Miss at home.
Kentucky will welcome No. 19 Louisville into Cliff Hagan tonight at 6:30, and David Mulloy, John Wilmhoff and I, and whoever else wants to join in, will bring you live coverage of it tonight over on KSR College. So make the jump over and join us. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect.
Kentucky (30-3, 9-3 SEC) has 22 wins this season at home, losing their first of the season last Saturday to Ole Miss. Last season the Cats won only eight conference games, so in just four series they have already surpassed that number.
The Cats will send freshman southpaw A.J. Reed to the hill, boasting an impressive 4-0 record and a 2.42 ERA. As a team, offensively the Cats own a .328 average and a .506 slugging percentage. Freshman phenom Austin Cousino leads the team in nearly every major batting category, hitting an incredible .365 with 13 doubles and five homers. And who says pitchers can’t hit? Reed is batting .350 with three homers and 33 RBI.
Louisville (23-9, 7-2 Big East) is coming off a series win on the road at Georgetown, and are currently one game out of first place in the Big East conference behind 8-1 South Florida and Connecticut.
The Cards will throw freshman right hander Jared Ruxer, who is carrying an equally-impressive 4-0 record and a 2.37 ERA. On the offensive side, The Cardinals are batting .316, a huge improvement from last season’s .253 mark. Cardinals junior Nick Ratajczak is leading the charge, batting .370 with seven doubles and 12 RBI. Sophomore Ty Young is hitting .378 with three homers in 23 RBI, but his plate appearances have been fewer.
Both teams have solid bullpens, and both are sending out stud freshman pitchers. If you have to give an edge somewhere it’s Kentucky’s power. The Cats can hit up and down the lineup, and if there are runs to be scored against the pitching of either of these clubs, Kentucky would have to be favored. It’s hard to predict what we’ll see: both teams could come out and hit the cover off the ball, but both starters could go deep into the game in a low scoring affair.
It’ll surely be a fun one. Let’s hope to continue Big Blue domination over Louisville. If you can’t make it out to The Cliff tonight, fear not! The game will be televised on Fox Sports South, in addition to C-WKTY in Lexington, and WYMO in Louisville. And of course, live coverage on KSR College.