No. 23 Baseball Hosts TTU, Marshall in Midweek Tilts
March 5, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Off to the nation's best record, No. 23 Kentucky returns to action with a pair of midweek tilts, hosting Tennessee Tech at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Marshall at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (11-0) owns the best record in the nation and is one of only two undefeated teams in college baseball, joining 10-0 Gonzaga. The Wildcats are off to the fourth-best start to a season in school annals and the best since opening up a school-record 19-0 in 2007 and 2008 and a 15-0 start in 2000.
UK posted five wins during the week, with midweek wins over Morehead State (3-2) and Xavier (9-2), before posting a series sweep over Illinois-Chicago. After Friday's game was postponed due to tornadic activities, UK swept a twinbill on Saturday, using a 4-3 result over UIC in game one and an 8-2 win over UIC in the finale. On Sunday, UK's offense exploded and the pitching staff dominated in its second shutout of 2012, posting a 20-0 win to sweep the series.
The Wildcats have been paced by a balanced approach throughout the year, with an explosive offense that owns a .334 average with 13 homers in 11 games, a 2.64 team ERA with 113 strikeouts in 99 innings and a .983 fielding percentage. UK ranks as the league leader in average, on-base percentage (.442) and fielding percentage.
The Wildcats will send freshman right-hander Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound Tuesday to face Tennessee Tech, with freshman southpaw A.J. Reed (1-0, 1.35 ERA) getting the start on Wednesday vs. Marshall. Both opponents have yet to announce a starting pitcher. The freshmen duo both made their first career starts last week, with Shepherd picking up a win over Xavier and Reed a win over Morehead State. Through two appearances and his one start, Shepherd has hurled six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking two and striking out five. Reed has also appeared in two games with one start, tossing 6.2 innings with four hits and one run allowed, striking out three.
The two games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
UK has been led offensively by freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino, who owns a .447 average (21-for-47) with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 10 RBI. Catcher Luke Maile has hit .405 (17-for-42) with four doubles, three homers and 13 RBI, stealing six bases. Freshman A.J. Reed has led UK with 17 RBI through his first 11 collegiate games, while Zac Zellers joins Maile in leading the team with three homers. Thomas McCarthy and Cameron Flynn have each launched two homers, with Reed and Micheal Thomas each belting a homer.
UK's weekend rotation of Taylor Rogers (3-0, 3.18 ERA), Jerad Grundy (2-0, 3.24 ERA) and Corey Littrell (2-0, 1.89 ERA) has been dominating through the first three weekends. In the pen, Tim Peterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has allowed only one hit and no walks in his first five career innings with nine strikeouts. Lefties Sam Mahar (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Alex Phillips (0-0, 1.23 ERA) have each appeared in four games in relief, with Trevor Gott (1-0, 5.40 ERA) leading the team with two saves and seven strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
Tennessee Tech (4-7) enters the game Tuesday coming off a series win over Dayton, winning the first and final game of the series. TTU also owns wins vs. Missouri State and Lipscomb, falling vs. Texas Tech, Illinois State, Dayton and Missouri State. As a team, TTU has hit .260, with 12 homers in 11 games, fielding .956 and owning an 8.36 ERA. Offensively, Austin Wulf leads the team with a .442 average (19-for-43) with three homers and seven RBI. Zach Stevens has hit .400 (16-for-40) with two doubles, four homers and 10 RBI. In the bullpen, Nick Price (1-0, 7.20 ERA) has appeared in a tea-best five games, along with Cullen Park (0-1, 5.00 ERA), who owns two saves and 14 strikeouts in nine innings.
TTU head coach Matt Bragga played for the Wildcats from 1991-94 for Madison, ranking as one of the top players in UK program history. Bragga ranks seventh in UK single-season at bats (240; 1993), 12th in single-season hits (83, 1994) and 12th in single-season runs scored (64; 1994). In UK's career record book, Bragga ranks 10th in UK career average (.338).
Marshall (4-7) is coming off a 5-1 loss at Wake Forest, where the Thundering Herd was held hitless in no-hitter. Marshall owns wins over Bryant, Eastern Michigan and a series win over Charleston Southern in Charleston, S.C. As a team, Marshall has hit .255 with seven homers in 11 games, fielding .963 with a 4.99 ERA. Nathan Gomez leads the team with a .325 average (13-for-40) with two homers and 12 RBI. Issac Ballou has hit .318 (14-for-44) with two homers and seven RBI. Alfredo Brito has also added two homers and six RBI with a .273 (9-for-33) average.
UK leads the all-time series with Tennessee Tech, 6-1, including a 4-1 mark in Lexington. UK has won five consecutive meetings in the series, dating back to a neutral-site win over TTU in 1994. The 2012 meeting is the second consecutive meeting in the series, with UK posting an 11-8 win in 2011. UK faced TTU on March 29 in 2011, with UK pounding out 14 hits, including a homer from Maile. Littrell made the start for UK and worked three shutout innings with two hits and three strikeouts. UK also used Phillips, Gott and Wijas, along with Nick Kennedy, Jordan Cooper and Braden Kapteyn. Cooper allowed five hits and five runs in two outs and Kapteyn allowed three runs in the top of the ninth inning in his two frames pitched. Offensively, Taylor Black led UK with a 4-for-4 four-runs scored game, with UK getting three hits from Kapteyn and three RBI from Maile.
The Wildcats lead the all-time series with Marshall, 27-11, including a 21-8 mark all-time in Lexington. In the meeting last year, Marshall posted a 6-4 neutral-site win over the Wildcats in Charleston in 2011. UK suffered the loss after allowing Marshall to score two in the first inning, before fighting back to even up the game after four innings. Marshall posted the win with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after a fielding error on UK second baseman Neiko Johnson. UK rallied with two runs in the top of the ninth but fell short of the win. UK started Rogers, who went six innings and allowed two runs with seven strikeouts. Gott suffered the loss, allowing the four decisive runs to socre - all unearned - in the eighth inning.
The Wildcats rank throughout the SEC stats, checking in first in average (.334), second in slugging (.513), first in on-base percentage (.442), second in runs (99), fourth in hits (127), third in RBI (90), fifth in doubles (23), second in homers (13), third in walks (60) and third in stolen bases (16). On the mound, UK ranks fifth in ERA (2.64), third in opponent average (.202) and fourth in strikeouts (113), leading the league defensively with a .983 fielding mark. Individually, Cousino ranks third in the SEC with a .447 average, ranking second in hits (21), third in doubles (six) and second in total bases (32). Maile ranks ninth in average (.405), fifth in slugging (.714), sixth in on-base percentage (.510), third in runs scored (16), 11th in hits (17), seventh in RBI (13), second in homers (three), fifth in total bases (30), 12th in walks (eight) and fourth in stolen bases (six). Reed leads the SEC in RBI (17), while Zellers leads the conference in hit by pitches (six), ranking second in homers (three). On the mound, Littrell ranks 12th in ERA (1.89), ninth in opponent average (.177), fourth inning innings pitched (19.0) and first in runners picked off (two). Grundy ranks 12th in opponent average and Rogers leads the league in strikeouts (28), wins (three) and strikeouts looking (11).Defensively, Matt Reida ranks as the league leader in assists (45).
Coaches Clinic Announced for March 10
The Kentucky baseball team has announced its annual coaching clinic for March 10 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, set for 8-10 a.m. ET before UK's Saturday contest with Canisius.
The coaching clinic will consist of the UK coaching staff and several UK players going through a variety of drills and skills designed to help improve the skill sets of youth baseball players.
Please RSVP to Spencer Bridges (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the UK Athletics Marketing Office (859.257.8022) no later than March 8th in planning on attending.
Kentucky - 11-0, 0-0 SEC
Tennessee Tech - 4-7, 0-0 Ohio Valley
Marshall - 4-7, 0-0 Conference USA
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, March 6 * vs. Tennessee Tech * 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 7 * vs. Marshall * 4 p.m.
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Tuesday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington
Wednesday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday vs. Tennessee Tech
Fr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. TBA
Wednesday vs. Marshall
Fr., LHP A.J. Reed (1-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. TBA
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
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.
SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors
SEASON TICKET PRICES
$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating