Baseball Hosts Buffalo in Home-Opening Series

Feb. 23, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After posting three wins during a five-day road trip to open the 2012 season, the Kentucky baseball team returns to Lexington for the home opener, hosting Buffalo in a three-game series, set to begin on Friday at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume with 1 p.m. ET on both Saturday at Sunday.

Kentucky (3-0) posted three impressive wins to open the season, using a balanced effort with strong starting pitching, an explosive offense and a spotless defensive effort. UK posted a 2.00 team ERA on opening weekend, hitting .330 as a team with a 10-4 win over Wofford in the opener, a 10-2 win vs. EMU on Saturday and a 6-0 win at USC Upstate on Monday.

The Wildcats went three consecutive errorless games for the first time since going five errorless games during a stretch in 2008, UK’s school-record 44-win season. UK is the only team in the Southeastern Conference to go without a fielding error on opening weekend.

UK will send its weekend rotation trio of Taylor Rogers (1-0, 1.50 ERA), Jerad Grundy (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Corey Littrell (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against the Bulls. Buffalo will counter with senior right-hander Cameron Copping (1-8, 7.03 ERA in 2011) on Friday, senior right-hander Kevin Hughes (2-4, 6.33 ERA in 2011) on Saturday, with their starter on Sunday to be announced.

A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers turned in a quality start in the season opener at Wofford on Friday. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior allowed only five hits and one run, walking one and striking out a career-high nine. A three-year weekend starter, Rogers tossed his 12th career quality start in the win at Wofford.

Grundy, a junior southpaw transfer from Miami (Fla.) and Heartland CC, turned in a strong outing in his UK debut on Saturday vs. 2011 37-win club Eastern Michigan. Grundy, rated as the No. 67 prospect available in the 2011 MLB Draft by Baseball America in the preseason, went 5.2 shutout innings, allowing three hits and three walks, striking out four. After walking two in the first inning while battling first-inning jitters, Grundy settled down to retire 12 consecutive hitters in the middle innings.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Littrell’s start on Monday was the best of his career in a 6-0 win at USC Upstate. The 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year, Littrell went a career-long seven shutout innings, walking one and striking out a career-best eight. A 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, Littrell allowed only two singles and faced only one hitter over the minimum in his season debut.

The Wildcats have been led offensively by sophomore outfielder Lucas Witt, who owns a .462 average (6-for-13) through the first three games, with three RBI. Freshman outfielder Austin Cousino owns a .400 average (6-for-15), with four doubles and a triple at the top of the order. Freshman A.J. Reed owns a .375 average (3-for-8), with two doubles and four RBI, while J.T. Riddle has hit .357 (5-for-14) with four RBI. Catching duo Michael Williams and Luke Maile have helped anchor the middle of the order, with Williams batting .333 (4-for-12) with a double and an RBI, while Maile owns a .250 mark (3-for-12) with a homer and three RBI. Returning All-SEC third baseman Thomas McCarthy has batted .273 (3-for-12) with a homer and three RBI, with sophomore shortstop Matt Reida batting .308 (4-for-13) with a double and a team-high four RBI, with all four RBI coming with two outs.

In the bullpen, UK used eight relievers on opening weekend, including Reed (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Alex Phillips (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Trevor Gott (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Sam Mahar (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Chris Garrison (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Tim Peterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) putting up scoreless slates. Walter Wijas (0-0, 13.50 ERA) and Chandler Shepherd (0-0, 18.00 ERA) also made their season debuts.

Buffalo (0-0, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) is making its season debut in the trip to Lexington. As a team, Buffalo owned a .279 average in 2011, with a 6.51 ERA and a .951 fielding percentage. The Bulls are anchored by one of the top college players in the nation, catcher Tom Murphy, the defending MAC Player of the Year and a member of the 2011 Team USA Collegiate National Team. Murphy led UB with a .384 average in 2011, owning 16 doubles, 10 homers and 44 RBI. Alex Baldock hit .320 in 2011 with 18 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBI. Matt Pollock hit .298 in 2011, with 11 doubles, two triples, six homers and 22 RBI. Daniel Scahill hit .273 in 2011 with 11 doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.

UB’s weekend rotation are the returning headline pitchers, with Copping – who led the team with four quality starts – posting a 1-8 record and a 7.03 ERA, striking out 43 and walking 23 in 64 innings. Hughes went 2-4 with a 6.33 ERA in 2011, making two starts in 22 games, striking out 43 in 42.2 innings, walking 12. Sunday’s starter could be right-hander Jeff Thompson (1-2, 9.00 ERA in 2011), who made one start in nine games, striking out 22 in 21 innings.

UK leads the all-time series with the Bulls, 3-0, owning a series sweep at Cliff Hagan Stadium in 2005. In that series, UK won the opener, 4-3, before posting a 10-7 win in the second game of the series and a 11-9 win in the finale for the sweep.

Records
Kentucky – 3-0, 0-0 SEC
Buffalo – 0-0, 0-0 MAC

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Friday, Feb. 24 * vs. Buffalo * 4 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25 * vs. Buffalo * 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 26 * vs. Buffalo * 1 p.m.

Radio (BBSN with Neil Price and Dick Gabriel)
Friday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington
Saturday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington
Sunday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington

Internet Coverage
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Buffalo
Jr., LHP Taylor Rogers (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Sr., RHP Cameron Copping (1-8, 7.03 ERA)
Saturday vs. Buffalo
Jr., LHP Jerad Grundy (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Sr., RHP Kevin Hughes (2-4, 6.33 ERA)
Sunday vs. Buffalo
So., LHP Corey Littrell (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBA

Stadium
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Parking
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is FREE.

UK will utilize two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, and brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. Both parking lots are only steps away from Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Fans who park in the PS7 lot will be given a parking value card to exit the structure free of charge. Value cards should be picked up at the baseball ticket booth prior to the fifth inning.

Fans should not use the university “R” lots adjacent to the dorms or on the south side of Nutter Training Facility. These lots are patrolled by the university 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fans that park in these lots may be ticketed or towed. Plenty of parking will be available in the C8 and PS7 lots.

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