If we look at a Super Regional like a heavyweight bout in boxing, Oklahoma State took their punches yesterday, and lost the first round to Louisville in a big-time way. But just like in boxing, Round One doesn't matter that much if you come out and win Round Two. The Cowboys will be looking to do just that when they face Louisville at noon trying to keep their season alive.
I failed to mention how many players overall were taken in the MLB Draft on each team, so let's get that out of the way right now before we go into the supposed pitching matchup. Both teams had a record number of guys taken in the 50 rounds, with OSU having 11 chosen, while Louisville had ten plucked away. It doesn't mean that much at this point, as the guys reiterated after the game that this is what means the most to them at this point. And you can't blame them. They're going to have plenty of time to mull over being drafted and heading to pro ball once either of these team's magical runs come to an end either this weekend or next week in Omaha, or of course, the week after either hoisting the title or going home after the championship series.
It would be easy to just hand Louisville this game today. They have the pitching edge against whoever the Cowboys decide to throw out there. The lineup all of a sudden looks as if perhaps the Louisville Bats (AAA Cincinnati) have taken over the last couple of weeks. But that's the great thing about baseball. One day you can look like that, and the next well, you could look like about as lackluster and uncaring as the Cowboys did yesterday. In their defense, Zach Pitts was extremely nasty for the Cards.
Since we know who the starter will be for Louisville at this point, let's get that one out of the way first. Heading to the mound and looking to send the Cardinals to their first College World Series will be a freshman lefty Justin Marks. The 6-foot-2 Owensboro, Kentucky native and former 37th round pick of the Boston Red Sox a year ago has been outstanding in his first season in Louisville. Marks was named the Big East Rookie of the year and named a second team All-Big East selection as well.
Here's his season line:
8-2, 2.61 ERA, 16 Starts, 17 Appearances, 93 Innings, 66 Hits, 27 ER, 29 BB, 77 K, Opp. BA .195
Not too shabby at all. Marks pitched twice last weekend, with the first coming in a start against Missouri where he got a no-decision in what would be the Cardinals only loss of the Regional. In the game he pitched well, going five innings allowing three runs on five hits while walking three and striking out three. The only disturbing trend was the fact he gave up two homeruns (he had only given up two all season coming into the start.) Two days later Marks came back in his first relief appearance of his career, going three innings giving up two hits and one earned run while striking out two and walking none in what would be the Cardinals clinching 16-6 victory over Mizzou. Again though, he gave up a homerun. So that's three homers in the last eight innings pitched after allowing just two all year before that in his previous 85 innings. That will be an interesting trend to watch.
Marks' best performance of the year came in a game against South Florida in which he went eight innings while giving up just two hits, no runs, walking none and striking out seven for his fifth win of the year back on April 28.
For Oklahoma State the talk yesterday was that it would be sophomore lefty Joe Kent, a native of Billings, Montana. Oklahoma State is a tough team to try and read when it comes to starting pitching. Coach Anderson has thrown 11 guys as starters this season. Here's the line on Kent, as we'll assume he's the starter, especially because Anderson threw the two guys with the same or more starts this year yesterday in Odle and Oliver.
4-2, 3.42 ERA, 11 Starts, 12 Appearances, 50 Innings, 43 Hits, 47 K, 17 BB, Opp. BA .226
One thing's for sure with Kent, he's not going to go deep into a game. His longest appearance of the year came against Baylor on May 23 at the Big 12 Tournament when he went 6.1 and was handed his second loss of the year, but it was actually one of his better outings. He gave up three hits, three runs, but struckout eight and walked only one.
His last outing came last weekend against Arkansas when he lasted just four innings, giving up three hits, three runs (2 Earned), whiling walking two and striking out one in what was OSU's 14-3 victory over the Razorbacks, but Kent couldn't hang around to pick up the win.
So if there's one thing that reading the stats would tell you is that Anderson has a pretty quick hook with him. He's never given up more than three earned runs in a start this year, but out of his 11 starts, five have been less than five innings. After using seven pitchers yesterday, Anderson has got to hope to get a season long out of Kent today.
If we look at the bullpen's, like I just mentioned, OSU used six arms out of the 'pen in yesterday's loss, while Louisville used only one. Meaning that the 56th pick in the draft is looming out there and if L'Ville has the lead late, you'd have to think we'll see Trystan Magnuson for an extended period of time to try and get the Cards to the CWS. In case you aren't familiar with the senior 6-foot-7 Louisville native, take a look at these numbers.
3-1, 9 Saves, 1.02 ERA, 53 Innings, 52 K's, 9 BB
His longest outing of the year was four innings back on May 17 against Cincinnati when he didn't allow a baserunner while striking out four. He pitched three times last weekend, twice against Miami, once against Missouri, pitching a total of four innings in the process. He didn't give up a run until his first 13 appearances, totaling 18.1 innings.
Magnuson has thrown more than one inning 14 times. I'd bet the house that if Louisville has the lead in the 7th, McDonnell will go to his best arm. You have to. You don't get in this position every day. You go with your best arm.
Alright well, the weather is on our side today. No severe thunderstorms rolling through an hour before gametime like yesterday. But even if they did, that field acts as if it has never been rained on! Even only a few minutes after the storm ended yesterday, it was nearly bone dry. Amazing. It'll be in the mid-70's at gametime, going up to 83 here in Louisville today, and I have a feeling we may break yesterday's Jim Patterson Stadium record of 4,023. A Saturday will do that, especially because it's early in the day before the Belmont (they love their horse racing down here, so they'll watch even t hough there's no Triple Crown threat.)
Enjoy the game everybody, and remember, I'll be back after the game thanks to the NCAA's new rules about in-game blogging. Touching the Bases will return at the end of the game with complete analysis and a wrapup of today's game. To follow the action with live pitch-by-pitch information, head to Gametracker.