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Kentucky baseball: Weekend update (April 28)

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Overall Record: 26-17, 9-12 SEC
Record Last Week: 2-2, 2-1 SEC

Recent Results
Tuesday, April 23 * lost at Western Kentucky, 5-4 (18 innings)
Thursday, April 25 - won at No. 16 Ole Miss, 3-2
Friday, April 26 - lost at No. 16 Ole Miss, 11-5
Saturday, April 27 - won at No. 16 Ole Miss, 5-4

Upcoming Schedule (times Eastern)
Friday, May 3 - vs. No. 14 Arkansas - 6:30 p.m. (Fox Sports South)
Saturday, May 4 - vs. No. 14 Arkansas - 7 p.m. (Fox Sports South)
Sunday, May 5 - vs. No. 14 Arkansas - 1 p.m. (Cox Sports Television)

Team notes
The No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats completed a season-long seven-game road trip with a four-game week, including an 18-inning game at Western Kentucky on Tuesday and a historic series win at No. 16 Ole Miss during the weekend. UK will break for finals during the week and return to action on Friday in hosting preseason top-ranked Arkansas, currently tabbed as high as No. 14, in a three-game series.

Kentucky (26-17, 9-12 Southeastern Conference) continued its grueling road swing with what turned into an exhausting week, starting with the 18-inning loss at Western Kentucky. In a nearly six-hour game that marked the longest contest played in the NCAA in 2013, the Wildcats fell 4-3 at Bowling Green Ballpark, before arriving back in Lexington at 4 a.m. ET and attending classes Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, UK then traveled to Oxford for the ESPN Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week, facing the blistering hot Rebels, who entered the series owning six consecutive league wins. UK took an early lead on the strength of a first-inning Austin Cousino honor in the nationally televised tilt against Rebs ace Bobby Wahl, an All-America righty who had a sub 1.00 ERA in SEC games entering the start. After allowing unearned runs to score to give Ole Miss a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, UK mounted an eighth inning rally to take a 3-2 lead. With the UK bullpen taxed from the 18-inning game on Tuesday, UK turned to Chandler Shepherd to pitch extended innings in relief, tossing two shutout frames for the win.

After an 11-5 loss on Friday, the Wildcats posted a comeback 5-4 win on Saturday to claim the series against the Rebels, behind Corey Littrell's 20th career win. It marked UK's third all-time series win in Oxford and its first since 2007, also winning in 2001.

The Wildcats have been led offensively in average by freshman rightfielder Kyle Barrett, who has hit .347 with four doubles, one triple, 11 RBI and four steals in 2013. All-America two-way start A.J. Reed leads all NCAA sophomores in homers and RBI, batting .310 with eight doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 40 RBI. J.T. Riddle has hit .276 with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 19 RBI, stealing six bases. All-America centerfielder Austin Cousino has batted .256 with 10 doubles, one triple, six homers and 25 RBI, stealing 12 bags. Max Kuhn owns a .253 average with eight doubles, one triple, three homers and 26 RBI, stealing six bags. Outfielder Zac Zellers has a .247 average with three doubles, two homers and 22 RBI, swiping six bases, while catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .245 with two homers and 18 RBI.

UK's pitching staff has used the all lefthanded weekend rotation of Reed (2-5, 2.88 ERA), Jerad Grundy (5-5, 5.27 ERA) and Littrell (5-3. 3.22 ERA). In relief, senior Walter Wijas (2-0, 0.78 ERA) has appeared in a staff-high 21 games, while junior Trevor Gott (4-1, 1.33 ERA) has 10 saves in 20 outings, fanning 32 in 27 innings. Sophomore Chandler Shepherd (3-0, 3.43 ERA) has appeared in 18 games with 42 innings pitched. Freshmen Ryne Combs (0-0, 1.40 ERA), Zach Strecker (1-1, 2.40 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (1-0, 4.38 ERA) and Kyle Cody (3-2, 5.49 ERA) have been used in at least 10 games in relief.

UK is currently in a stretch of facing 14 of 16 ranked opponents. Eight of UK's 10 weekends against SEC foes have come against ranked teams. Kentucky, currently owning a No. 27 NCAA RPI in the projections on Sunday, has three series wins over top-20 NCAA RPI teams (at Florida, at Ole Miss, vs. Miss. State), and has four games against top-12 teams remaining in 2013.

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