Baseball Opens Home Season with Bowling Green
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After posting a three-game sweep at the 2010 Caravelle Resort Invitational, the 29th-ranked Kentucky baseball team opens its home portion of the schedule, hosting the two-time defending Mid-American Conference Champion Bowling Green State University Falcons in a three-game set, beginning Friday at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The two teams will also play Saturday and Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. ET.
The games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price calling the action for the home opener Friday. Saturday and Sunday, Dick Gabriel will call the action, with Price traveling with the nationally ranked UK Hoops team. All games can be heard live in Lexington on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKatheltics.com. Fans can also watch the games live and tune in to a comprehensive live blog on UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (3-0) is coming off an excellent opening weekend, sweeping the Caravelle Resort Invitational with wins over Virginia Tech, West Virginia and No. 12 Coastal Carolina. UK opened the season Friday with a 15-6 dominating win over the Hokies, using an eight strikeout performance from sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer and homers from senior Keenan Wiley and sophomore Andy Burns.
Saturday, UK got a gem on the mound from freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers, who carried a perfect game into the fourth inning of his first collegiate start, lasting 7.2 shutout innings, with only six hits and one walk allowed, striking out two. Behind Rogers and fellow freshman hurler Jordan Cooper, UK posted a 6-0 win over the Mountaineers.
Sunday, UK got a dramatic 3-2 win over the No. 12 Chants, plating the game-winning run in the top of the ninth. Behind the arms of Braden Kapteyn and Logan Darnell, UK claimed the pitching duel, with Kapteyn picking up the win with three shutout innings, including a perfect bottom of the ninth after the Wildcats claimed the lead. Darnell made his first career start in his 44th career appearance, going six innings, allowing just two runs with six strikeouts.
Following the weekend, the Wildcats cracked the rankings for the first time, climbing to No. 29 in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30 poll. UK is also receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll. UK is ranked as high as No. 16 in the Ping! Baseball weekly top 25.
Bowling Green presents a formidable task for the Wildcats, as the Falcons are the two-time defending MAC Champions and finished 2009 ranking eighth in the NCAA in batting average (.345). Entering the season, BGSU is picked by Baseball America as a potential sleeper in college baseball this year, as the magazine tabbed the Falcons as a potential NCAA Regional winner in 2010. Last season, BGSU posted an 18-8 record in the MAC behind MAC Pitcher of the Year Brennan Smith. Smith, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander, possesses a high-velocity fastball that can reach 94 mph and an above-average split-finger. Offensively, BGSU is led by powerful third baseman Derek Spencer (.385 avg. 15 HR, 59 RBI in 2009), who paces an excellent infield that includes shortstop Jon Berti (.368 avg., 5 HR, 34 RBI, .596 SLG% in 2009), above-average defensive second baseman Logan Meisler (.361 avg., 4 HR, 45 RBI in 2009) and left-handed swinging senior first baseman Dennis Vaughn (.336 avg., 3 HR, 14 RBI in 2009).
The Falcons (0-3) started out the season with tests at No. 12 Louisville. The Cardinals swept the series, with a 13-1 win Friday, a 5-2 win in game one Saturday and an 8-7 result in the finale Saturday.
UK will keep the same weekend pitching rotation as it debuted last weekend with great success, with Meyer (1-0, 3.60 ERA) opening up the home opener Friday. Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound right-hander will face off with Smith (0-1, 13.50 ERA) Friday night. Last year, Smith totaled an 8-4 record and a 4.41 ERA, fanning 80 in 81.2 innings.
Saturday, UK will turn to the reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, Rogers (1-0, 0.00 ERA) for his second career starting nod, facing off with freshman right-hander Michael Frank (0-0, 0.00 ERA), a 6-foot-3 184-pounder out of Maumee, Ohio. Frank tossed four innings in his collegiate debut Saturday against Louisville, allowing only two hits and one unearned run, walking two and fanning one.
Sunday, UK will turn to Darnell (0-0, 3.00 ERA) for his second career starting assignment, facing off with BGSU junior right-hander Kevin Leady (0-0, 8.10 ERA). In his last start, Leady lasted 3.1 innings, allowing six hits, three runs, two walks, striking out three.
The Wildcats own a win in the other meeting in the series between the two schools, posting a 5-1 win in Lexington in 1992.