Baseball Hosts Western Kentucky in Tuesday Tilt

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of nine consecutive games, the Kentucky baseball team will conclude a 10-game homestand with a Tuesday matchup vs. Western Kentucky, with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network +, available on the ESPN app. The contest will also air on the UK Sports Radio Network, available on Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington and online at UKathletics.com.

The midweek tilt with WKU will mark an end to a 10-game homestand for UK to open the season, with UK winning its previous nine games after opening 2016 with a two-week road swing. UK opens Southeastern Conference play on Friday at Georgia.

Kentucky will start sophomore righty Zach Pop (0-0, 1.08 ERA) on Tuesday vs. Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have not yet declared a starting pitcher. Pop has appeared in three games with two starts, tossing 8.1 innings, allowing nine hits and three walks, striking out seven. In his career, Pop has a 3.33 ERA in 14 games and 24.1 innings, allowing 29 hits and 12 walks, striking out 14. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound product of the Canadian Junior National Team, Pop entered 2016 as the 69th best college prospect available for the 2017 MLB Draft, as rated by D1baseball.

Last week, Kentucky (12-3) extended its winning streak to nine games with a 5-0 week at Cliff Hagan Stadium, including a pair of comeback wins. UK posted a series sweep over USC Upstate over the weekend and won midweek tilts vs. Cincinnati and Murray State.

The Wildcats opened the week with a comeback win over Cincinnati on Tuesday, rallying from a three-run hole in the bottom of the seventh inning to post an 8-4 win. UK then posted an 11-1 win over Murray State to conclude midweek action, with senior Dylan Dwyer winning his ninth career game with two shutout innings in relief. UK then opened the weekend with a 5-3 comeback win over USC Upstate on Friday night, before sweeping a series-concluding twinbill on Saturday, holding the Spartans without an earned run on the day.

Kentucky has hit .305/.392/.494 through 15 games to open the season, with 102 runs, 30 doubles, four triples, 19 homers and 22 steals. UK has fielded .973, turning 13 double plays and nabbing five of nine runners trying to steal. The Wildcats have turned in a 3.02 team ERA through 134 innings, allowing 110 hits and a .221 opponent average, walking 52 and striking out 136.

At the plate, sophomore first baseman Evan White has led the team with a .397 average, owning four doubles, one triple, one homer and 20 RBI, stealing six bases. Junior DH Gunnar McNeill has hit .375 with two doubles, three homers and 17 RBI and junior third baseman JaVon Shelby has batted .341 with five doubles, four homers and seven RBI, stealing two bases. Sophomore second baseman Luke Becker has hit .333 with four doubles, four RBI and two steals, sporting a .481 on-base percentage. Sophomore shortstop Riley Mahan has hit .322 with four doubles, two triples, two homers and nine RBI, stealing three bases. Junior centerfielder Storm Wilson owns a .311 average with seven doubles, one homer, three RBI and four steals, sporting a .466 on-base percentage. Junior outfielder Zach Reks has hit .310 with a double and three RBI, freshman outfielder Tristan Pompey has batted .217 with two doubles, one triple, four homers and 15 RBI and junior outfielder Marcus Carson has batted .194 with a homer and five RBI.

UK has used the weekend rotation of junior righty Zack Browns (1-2, 4.95 ERA) on Friday, senior right-hander Dustin Beggs (4-0, 0.94 ERA) on Saturday and senior righty Kyle Cody (2-1, 5.40 ERA) on Sunday. Beggs is just the third pitcher in UK history to win their first four starts to a season and the first since 2012, with his ERA the best through four starts in Kentucky annals.

In relief, righties Sean Hjelle (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Justin Lewis (2-0, 0.84 ERA), Zach Strecker (2-0, 0.87 ERA), Zach Pop (0-0, 1.08 ERA) and Bo Wilson (0-0, 15.00 ERA), and lefties Daniel Tillo (0-0, 2.08 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (1-0, 2.25 ERA), Logan Salow (0-0, 3.68 ERA), Zach Logue (0-0, 4.00 ERA), Josh Smith (0-0, 4.50 ERA) and Brad Schaenzer (0-0, 9.00 ERA) give the bullpen depth.

Western Kentucky (10-5) is off to a strong start to the season under first-year head coach John Pawlowski, a veteran of College of Charleston and Auburn. The Hilltoppers have hit .310/.405/.423 through 15 games, with 108 runs, 33 doubles, four triples, seven homers, stealing 10 bases. Defensively, WKU fielded .967, turning eight double plays and nabbing six of 13 runners trying to steal. On the mound, WKU has a 3.51 team ERA, with five saves in 136 innings, walking 62 and striking out 121, holding opponents to a .251 average.

Records
Kentucky: 12-3
Western Kentucky: 10-5

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, March 15 * vs. Western Kentucky * 4 p.m. [SEC Network +]

Radio (UK Radio Network)
Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington

Internet Coverage
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Tentative Pitching Matchup
Tuesday vs. Western Kentucky
So., RHP Zach Pop (0-0, 1.08 ERA) vs. TBD

Stadium
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Parking
Free gameday parking is available in the C-8 lot beyond rightfield and behind homeplate, or in the E lot adjacent to Cliff Hagan Stadium. The C-8 lot will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Once C-8 is filled, vehicles will be directed to park in the E lot next to Cliff Hagan Stadium. After the E lot is full, a limited amount of parking will be available in Parking Structure No. 7 on the ground floor. If you’re parking in PS#7, please exchange your ticket for a pink payment voucher at the ticket booth, prior to the end of the fourth inning. Additionally, overflow parking will be available in the smaller E lots close to Cooper Dr., as well as the C-6 lot at Commonwealth Stadium. All fans are asked to please follow the signage provided to the nearest parking location.

Tickets
SINGLE-GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors

SEASON TICKET PRICES
$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating