No. 13 Baseball Hosts Alabama in Three-Game Weekend
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners on three consecutive series to open Southeastern Conference play, No. 13 Kentucky will host Alabama in a three-game series, with first pitch in the opener slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The series will be broadcast live on SEC Network +, with Dick Gabriel and Doug Flynn voicing the action. Fans can also hear the games live on the UK Sports Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats will turn to the weekend rotation of junior righty Zack Brown (1-5, 7.12 ERA) on Friday, senior right-hander Dustin Beggs (7-0, 2.74 ERA) on Saturday and senior righty Kyle Cody (3-1, 5.66 ERA) on Sunday. Alabama will counter with junior righty Geoffrey Bramblett (3-0, 2.14 ERA) on Friday, sophomore right-hander Jake Walters (2-3, 2.54 ERA) on Saturday and junior righty Nick Eicholtz (1-1, 3.00 ERA) on Sunday.
Last weekend, Kentucky (20-8, 6-3 SEC) won its third consecutive series to open league play with the final two games at Tennessee. It marks the first time UK has won its first three SEC weekends since 2013 and has been a display of UK’s resilience, bouncing back from series-opening losses to claim the final two games of the set.
UK opened the week with a 5-4 loss to Northern Kentucky, before rebounding with a 6-2 win over Xavier on Wednesday to conclude midweek action. UK then ventured to Tennessee, suffering a 14-5 loss to the Vols. The Wildcats bounced back behind senior Dustin Beggs on Saturday, who won his school-record seventh straight game to open the season, taking sole possession of the NCAA lead, with Sean Hjelle earning his fourth save in pitching the ninth. Kyle Cody then pitched UK to a 10-2 win on Sunday in the rubber match at UT, with UK getting three hits from Zach Reks in a 13-hit attack.
UK has hit .298/.385/.460 as a team, with 192 runs scored through 28 games, stealing 29 bases, belting 55 doubles, seven triples and 29 homers. Defensively, UK has fielded .969, turning 19 double plays and nabbing seven of 19 runners stealing. On the mound, UK has a 4.10 team ERA in 250 innings, allowing 231 hits and 96 walks, striking out 225 with foes hitting .241.
At the plate, junior outfielder Zach Reks leads the team with a .393 average., adding three doubles, one homer and eight RBI. Junior DH Gunnar McNeill has a school-record 23 game hitting streak and has batted .384 with six doubles, five homers and 33 RBI on the year. Sophomore 1B Evan White has hit .369 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and 27 RBI, stealing 9-of-10 bases. Sophomore SS Riley Mahan hits .323 with six doubles, two triples, thre homers and 18 RBI, swiping five bases. Sophomore 2B Luke Becker has hit .298 with six doubles, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing three bases. Junior 3B JaVon Shelby leads the team with six homers, adding a .270 average with seven doubles, two triples and 17 RBI. Freshman OF Tristan Pompey has hit .256 with five doubles, one triple, four homers and 22 RBI. Freshman C Kole Cottam has hit .240 with three doubles, one homer and 11 RBI. Junior CF Storm Wilson has been an on-base force at the top of the lineup with a .373 on-base percentage, adding eight doubles, one homer and four steals. Junior OF Marcus Carson has two homers and seven RBI.
UK has used the weekend rotation of junior righty Zack Brown (1-5, 7.12 ERA), senior right-hander Dustin Beggs (7-0, 2.74 ERA) and senior righty Kyle Cody (3-1, 5.66 ERA). In relief for the Wildcats, senior righty Zach Strecker (2-0, 0.47 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 11 games, with Sean Hjelle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Justin Lewis (2-0, 0.45 ERA) each owning four saves in nine outings. Lefties Logan Salow (1-0, 1.98 ERA), Zach Logue (1-0, 4.02 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 4.61 ERA), Daniel Tillo (0-0, 6.00 ERA), Brad Schaenzer (0-1, 7.50 ERA) and Josh Smith (0-0, 7.71 ERA) have each appeared in at least four games in relief.
Following the weekend at Tennessee, Kentucky moved up to No. 19, from 24, in the latest Baseball America top 25, dropping from No. 12 to 13 in the latest Collegiate Baseball top-30 poll. UK stayed at No. 28 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll and is receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll. UK is also ranked No. 21 in the latest D1baseball top 25.
Alabama (18-11, 5-4 SEC) is coming off a doubleheader sweep over Alcorn State on Tuesday night, after suffering a series setback at Georgia last weekend. In the opener, Alabama posted a 10-7 win at UGA in 13 innings, getting three in the 13th. Bama evened the series with a 7-1 loss to UGA as Robert Tyler threw a one-hitter through nine innings. UGA then won the series with a 12-4 result in the finale, getting a seven-run fourth inning for the difference.
The Crimson Tide have hit .259/.344/.357 as a team through 29 games, scoring 137 runs, belting 49 doubles, four triples and 12 homers, stealing 24-of-32 bases. Defensively, Bama has fielded .968, turning 25 double plays and throwing out 13 of 30 would-be basestealers. On the mound, Alabama has a 3.26 ERA as a team in 257 innings, earning nine saves, allowing 242 hits and 90 walks, striking out 229 and holding opponents to a .250 average.
At the plate for UA, senior 1B/3B Chance Vincent leads the club with a .333 average, with three doubles, one triple and 20 RBI. Sophomore 3B Connor Short has hit .306 with seven doubles, one homer and 10 RBI. 2B Colbie Vance has hit .280 with five doubles, one homer and 13 RBI and SS Chandler Avant has hit .261 with eight doubles and 14 RBI. RF Chandler Taylor leads the team with four homers, hitting .255 with two doubles, two triples and 12 RBI. 1B Cody Henry sports a .241 average with eight doubles and 13 RBI and C Will Haynie has hit .234 with four doubles, three homers and nine RBI. CF Georgia Salem has a .234 average with four doubles and two homers.
In relief for Bama, lefty Thomas Burrows (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is one of the top relievers in the nation, owning six saves in eight outings, fanning 19 in 10 innings and allowing only two hits. Dylan Duarte (2-1, 2.20 ERA) has appeared in 11 games and Matt Foster (3-2, 4.02 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 12 games.
Alabama leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 59-38, including a 23-18 all-time mark in games played in Lexington.
Kentucky: 20-8, 6-3 SEC
Alabama: 18-11, 5-4 SEC
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Friday, April 8 * vs. Alabama * 6 p.m. [SEC Network +]
Saturday, April 9 * vs. Alabama * 2 p.m. [SEC Network +]
Sunday, April 10 * vs. Alabama * 1 p.m. [SEC Network +]
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Alabama
Jr., RHP Zack Brown (1-5, 7.12 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (3-0, 2.14 ERA)
Saturday vs. Alabama
Sr., RHP Dustin Beggs (7-0, 2.74 ERA) vs. So., RHP Jake Walters (2-3, 2.54 ERA)
Sunday vs. Alabama
Sr., RHP Kyle Cody (3-1, 5.66 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Nick Eicholtz (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
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.
SINGLE-GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors
SEASON TICKET PRICES
$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating [SOLD OUT]