The Indiana Hoosiers are taking on the Kentucky Wildcats ... in baseball.
Those first, non-italicized words are enough to make any old man on a pregame show soil their britches with the kind of anticipation that only a combination of blue-blood based excitement and sporadic incontinence can bring. Sadly, the remaining words leave most looking like someone has just discovered the ice cream they've been given is actually frozen yogurt. I mean, sure it's good, but it's hardly the same.
Anyway, at 4:05 PM this afternoon down at the Bart, the hardball Hoosiers are taking the field against the Kentucky Wildkittens and it's basically going to be just like last December in Assembly Hall; only with about 16,000 less people and a much lower final score. But the weather is currently beautiful and you've got nothing to do until Thursday so I would highly recommend your attendance. So now is the time to re-ignite the rivalry and it starts right now, in a blog post full of immature potshots.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
|Unofficial RPI||CBI Composite National Poll||Last College World Series Appearance||Basketball Team Afraid to Play in Bloomington?|
|KENTUCKY (13-3)||#20||#21||NR||Never ever. Only team in the SEC to never do it.||Yes.|
So if polls are your thing, it's fairly obvious to say the teams are evenly matched. Kentucky has the shinier record, but outside a win over Virginia at the beginning of the year (who is really good this year) they haven't had a real challenge. Indiana will, undoubtedly, be the best team they've played since the Valentine's Day showdown with the Cavaliers. However, they did take two out of three against Ball State, scoring FIFTY RUNS in their two wins. That is, well, a whole lot of runs to be scoring against any college team. Kentucky leads the all-time series 19-15.
Indiana is coming off a series win against Jacksonville, where they took two out of three on the road in northern Florida. Strangely enough, The TorNato had his first non-stellar outing of the season, managing to stay in for seven innings, but surrendered 3 earned runs while walking 5 and only striking out four. Stranger yet, the only left-hander in the Dolphins' lineup that evening managed to tag him for a home run, which will likely be a rare sight off the southpaw this year. Joey certainly didn't pitch horribly, but the offense gave him very little margin for error. It was the first Joey DeNato-start that the Hoosiers have dropped this season.
The next two games saw the offense explode for 9 and 7 runs, including a huge comeback in the rubber match. Down one run in the top of the ninth, multiple free passes and wild pitches loaded the bags with Hoosiers and an airmailed throw by the catcher gave Indiana the lead and Kyle Hart pitched a perfect ninth to clinch the series win.
Speaking of Kyle Hart (1-1, 3.38), the lefty gets the start today and will be opposed by fellow southpaw Dylan Dwyer (0-1, 3.00). Kyle Hart has looked fantastic in relief but has had his struggles starting. However, he was excellent in the home opener, going seven scoreless but walking four. Kentucky has shown the ability to score runs in bunches, so the Hoosiers will need excellent pitching today, as the offense has yet to show us the ability to throw up bunches of runs consistently.
Finally: I can also report that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that, should the Wildcats lose, manager Gary Henderson will demand the series be moved to Victory Field.