Littrell Deals Baseball to Home-Opening Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In his first career start, Kentucky freshman southpaw Corey Littrell carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, lifting the Wildcats to a 5-2 win over Eastern Michigan in the 2011 home opener, on Wednesday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Littrell (1-1) was dominating in his first collegiate start, going 6.2 innings and allowing only two hits and two runs. The Trinity High School product walked two, both on full-count offerings, and struck out three, throwing only 77 pitches, including 51 for strikes. A 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, Littrell retired the first eight hitters he faced and had only faced the minimum number of hitters while working into the sixth inning. Littrell's only trouble came on back-to-back hitters in the seventh, as the UK freshman gave up a one-out single to break up the no-hitter, before cleanup hitter Ben Magsig pulled a two-run homer over the rightfield fence.
Offensively, UK continued to build upon its 20-hit performance in a 12-3 win over Morehead State on Tuesday. The Wildcats pounded out 10 hits, drawing four walks and getting plunked by one pitch. UK was led offensively by senior shortstop Taylor Black, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. Black, a native of Easley, S.C., who was ranked as the 26th-best senior prospect in college baseball in the preseason, recorded two doubles with his two hits, with one coming off the wall in centerfield and the second coming high off the 30-foot wall in rightfield.
Braden Kapteyn and Luke Maile joined Black with two hits each in the game, with Kapteyn going 2-for-4 with a run scored and Maile adding a 2-for-4 outing with an RBI and his third double in five games. Mike Kaczmarek added a hit and an RBI and freshman second baseman Paul McConkey - making his first career start - added an RBI single. Freshman Lexington native Lucas Witt added his first career double, also drawing a walk. Third sacker Thomas McCarthy added to his team-high double total, painting his fourth double of the year down the leftfield line.
Kentucky (2-3) returns to action for its first home weekend series of the 2011 season, hosting Illinois-Chicago, beginning Friday at 4 p.m. ET. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Littrell, the Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year in 2010, picked up the win for the Wildcats but UK also got a strong outing from freshman Trevor Gott. A graduate of Tates Creek in Lexington, Gott - who was named the Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year in 2010 - went 1.2 innings, allowing one hit and two walks, striking out four to pick up the hold. UK used sophomore righty Jordan Cooper in his first career save chance in the ninth, as Cooper started the season opener on Friday at No. 20 College of Charleston and is not slated to start until Sunday's game with Illinois-Chicago. Cooper picked up the save, the first of his career, needing only six pitches to retire EMU in the ninth.
Eastern Michigan (1-3) entered the game coming off a weekend at No. 4 Clemson, where the Eagles posted an impressive win over the Tigers. EMU starter Joe Battistelli (0-1) took the loss, going 3.2 innings and allowing five hits and three runs.
UK got on the board with a run in the second inning, as McCarthy doubled down the line with one out, scoring after McConkey singled with two outs up the middle.
In the fourth frame, Witt drew a walk with two outs and Black pelted a double off the wall in centerfield, scoring the speedy Witt from first base. Kaczmarek then scored Witt with his first career RBI, a single drilled up the middle.
In the top of the seventh, EMU got its two runs, as Tucker Rubino broke up Littrell's quest for the no-hitter with a single pulled to leftfield. The next hitter broke up the shutout with a first-pitch, two-run homer over the short porch in rightfield.
UK added to its lead with two runs on three hits in the seventh, as Black led off the inning with a double pelted off the 30-foot high wall in rightfield. After Kaczmarek's successful bunt, Wright scored Black with a sacrifice fly, hung to rightfield. Kapteyn then followed and singled up the middle for his second hit of the game and Maile scored Kapteyn with a double down the leftfield line.