No. 22 Baseball Opens Tony Gwynn Classic with UC Santa Barbara

UK Game Notes (PDF)

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 22nd ranked Kentucky baseball team will return to action with the inaugural, eight-team, Tony Gwynn Classic, opening the tournament with a 4 p.m. ET matchup with UC Santa Barbara on Friday at San Diego State’s Gwynn Stadium. The tournament, hosted by SDSU and San Diego, also includes Arizona, Bryant, Nebraska and Tulane.

The Tony Gwynn Classic takes on special meaning for Kentucky eighth-year head coach Gary Henderson, who was a teammate with Gwynn at San Diego State. Henderson was also teammates with San Diego Coach Rich Hill at SDSU, with the pair serving on the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team coaching staff.

The Wildcats will turn to junior righty Zack Brown (0-1, 9.82 ERA) to open the tournament vs. UC Santa Barbara, which will counter with junior right-hander Shane Bieber (1-0, 2.57 ERA). Kentucky will start senior right-hander Dustin Beggs (1-0, 1.50 ERA) in the second game of the tournament, with senior righty Kyle Cody (1-0, 0.00 ERA) slated to start a finale.

A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown suffered the setback as UK’s season-opening starter vs. Wofford on Friday. Brown, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, worked 3.2 innings and allowed nine hits in his debut, fanning three without issuing a walk. In his career, Brown has appeared in 35 games with 20 starts, owning a 7-8 record and a 4.16 ERA over 125.1 innings, striking out 92. Last season, Brown faced UCSB in Santa Barbara, Calif., striking out six over 4.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs, walking three. Bieber faced the Wildcats in a series opener in 2015, working eight strong innings in a 10-3 win, allowing just one run on a walk and nine hits, striking out five.

Beggs, a native of Roswell, Ga., won his 2016 debut on Saturday vs. George Mason. He worked six innings, allowing just one run, issuing a walk and striking out five. Over his career, Beggs sports one of the top ERAs in program history, a 3.52, with an 8-4 record over 15 starts and 99.2 innings, striking out 80.

A native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Cody owns a 12-7 record and a 4.22 ERA over his 48-game, 29-start career. Cody, who had five saves in 2014, has 138 strikeouts in 168.2 innings, allowing 159 hits in his career. Last Sunday, Cody dazzled in his season debut, working seven shutout, three-hit innings, striking out eight with just a strikeout.

Kentucky (2-1, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) opened its 2016 season last weekend with a pair of wins to conclude the weekend, suffering a season-lidlifting loss at Wofford on Friday, 5-4. The Terriers rallied from behind to take a four-run lead, with UK fighting back on the strength of a two-run homer from Storm Wilson. UK got 3.1 innings of one-run relief from senior Zach Strecker in the setback.

The Wildcats then bounced back with an 8-6 win over George Mason on Saturday, with Gunner McNeill and Tristan Pompey each belting homers and freshman Justin Lewis becoming the first player to earn a save in their UK debut since 2002. Beggs earned his eighth career win with six innings on Saturday, allowing just a run.

UK then routed Dayton with a 15-2 win on Sunday, getting seven innings of three-hit shutout pitching from Cody. JaVon Shelby belted two homers and Pompey belted a pair, with Marcus Carson, Kole Cottam and Dorian Hairston joining in on a seven-homer, 20-hit attack.

Early in the year, UK is sporting the highest slugging percentage (.728) and most home runs (10) to start a season in UK history. UK had never hit more than six homers in its first three games. UK has its highest team average through three games since 2012 (.360) and its highest fielding percentage early on since 2009 (.965). UK leads SEC in average, slugging, total bases and homers.

Shelby leads UK and the SEC with a .667 (8-for-12) start to the year, with six of his eight hits going for extra bases, adding six runs, two homers and three RBI, drawing two walks. He reached base safely in 10-of-14 trips to the plate on the weekend, tying his career high with three hits twice. Pompey, a 6-foot-4 switch hitter, belted homers from both sides of the plate in his three-homer opening attack, driving in six runs and finishing a single shy of the cycle on Sunday. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week after his performance.

Junior outfielder Zach Reks has hit .444 (4-for-9), with sophomore second baseman Luke Becker and sophomore shortstop Riley Mahan each sporting a .417 (5-for-12) mark. McNeill has hit .385 (5-for-13) with a homer and four RBI, with first baseman Evan White hitting 3-for-15 to open the year, with Marcus Carson, Cottam Hairston and Wilson each belting homers.

UC Santa Barbara (4-0, 0-0 Big West) opened the year with four consecutive wins and have hit .353 as a team with nine doubles, one triple, four homers and 34 runs scored. UCSB has a 3.50 team ERA in 36 innings, allowing only 33 hits and 13 walks, striking out 37. JJ Muno leads the club with seven hits in 17 at-bats, with Ryan Clark adding five and Andrew Calica charting six hits.

Arizona (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) has opened its year with a four-game swing through Texas, including a series win at Rice. The Wildcats have hit .226 as a team with three doubles and 17 runs, stealing eight bases. On the mound, Arizona has a 2.42 team ERA in 26 innings, allowing only 17 hits and seven walks, striking out 19. Arizona will be led at the plate by two-way player Bobby Dalbec, who was a slugger for Team USA this summer.

Bryant (4-0, 0-0 Northeast Conference) opened the year with four consecutive wins, hitting .252 as a team with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 25 runs scored. On the mound, Bryant opened with a sterling 2.05 team ERA, with three saves in its four wins, allowing 35 hits and 18 walks, with 36 strikeouts in 44 innings. Joe Paparelli leads Bryant offensively, off to a 6-for-13 start with a pair of doubles.

San Diego State (0-3, 0-0 West Coast) has suffered a trio of losses to open the year, hitting .250 as a team with three doubles and a homer, with 10 runs scored and two steals. On the mound, SDSU has a 5.67 team ERA in 27 innings, allowing 25 hits and 22 runs, walking 12 and striking out 22.

San Diego (0-3, 0-0 West Coast) suffered a series sweep at the hands of No. 2 Vanderbilt on the road to open the year. The Toreros are coached by Hill – a former teammate of Henderson and Gwynn at San Diego State – who joined Henderson on the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team coaching staff over the summer. Hill’s club is headline by shortstop Bryson Brigman, who was also on Team USA this summer. Brigman has hit .364 (4-for-11) with a double and three RBI early into the season. USD has hit .235 as a team with four doubles and 11 runs in its three-game stretch against the high-powered Commodores. On the mound, San Diego allowed 38 runs in 24 innings vs. Vanderbilt, walking 22 and striking out 26, allowing 38 hits.

Nebraska (1-2, 0-0 B1G) has hit .265 as a team with four doubles, one triple, two homers and 12 runs in three games, stealing four bases. On the mound, Nebraska has a 5.76 ERA with 18 walks and 18 strikeouts in 25 innings, allowing only 21 hits. Ben Miller lead the Huskers at the plate through three games, owning a 5-for-10 start with two RBI and four walks.

Tulane (2-1, 0-0 American Athletic) opened the year with a three-game series win over Illinois in New Orleans. The Green Wave have hit .255 as a team with two doubles, one triple, three homers and 11 runs scored. Tulane has a 3.21 team ERA in 28 innings, allowing 25 hits and 14 walks, striking out 34. Jeremy Montalbano leads the club with five hits, a homer and three RBI at the dish.

UK trails the all-time series with Arizona, 1-2, suffering a pair of losses in the last two meetings, including the 2008 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional Championship Game. UK has not faced Bryant or Tulane in program history and in the lone meeting with Nebraska, UK lost, 6-5 in 1994. UK lost a 2010 matchup at San Diego State, 12-4, which was Alex Meyer vs. Addison Reed, before Logan Darnell threw a complete-game shutout at San Diego later in that 2010 weekend.

Last year, UC Santa Barbara won the series in Santa Barbara, claiming the first two games of the set, before UK bounced back with a 12-7 win in the finale. In the opener, Shane Bieber worked eight strong innings and UCSB scored seven runs in the first three innings for a large margin. In the second game, Dillon Tate pitched UCSB to an 11-0 win, with UCSB owning three innings of at least three runs. UK won the finale, behind a three-run homer from JaVon Shelby off starter Justin Jacome in the first inning.

Records
Kentucky – 2-1, 0-0 SEC
UC Santa Barbara – 4-0, 0-0 Big West
Arizona – 0-0, 0-0 Pac-12
Bryant – 4-0, 0-0 NEC
San Diego State – 0-3, 0-0 Mountain West
San Diego – 0-3, 0-0 West Coast
Nebraska – 1-2, 0-0 B1G
Tulane – 2-1, 0-0 American Athletic

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
Friday, February 26
at Fowler Park (San Diego)
4:00 p.m.: Arizona vs. Tulane
10:00 p.m.: Nebraska vs. USD
at Tony Gwynn Stadium (SDSU)
4:00 p.m.: Kentucky vs. UC Santa Barbara
10:00 p.m.: Bryant vs. SDSU

Saturday, February 27
at Fowler Park
4:00 p.m.: TBD vs. Nebraska
8:30 p.m.: TBD vs. USD
at Tony Gwynn Stadium                                    
4:00 p.m.: TBD vs. Bryant
10:00 p.m.: TBD vs. SDSU

Sunday, February 28
at Fowler Park
1:30 p.m.: Teams TBD
5:00 p.m.: Teams TBD
at Tony Gwynn Stadium
1:00 p.m.: Championship Game, Teams TBD         
5:00 p.m.: Teams TBD

Radio (UK Radio Network with Dick Gabriel)
Friday, February 25

  • Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington

Saturday, February 27

  • Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington

Sunday, February 28

  • Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. UC Santa Barbara
Jr., RHP Zack Brown (0-1, 9.82 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
Saturday vs. Bryan or San Diego State
Sr., RHP Dustin Beggs (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. TBD
Sunday vs. TBD
Sr., RHP Kyle Cody (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD