Baseball Alters Weekend, Hosts Northern Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of seven consecutive games, the Kentucky baseball team will return to action with its final non-conference weekend, playing host to Northern Kentucky in a three-game series, with first pitch in the series opener slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Sunday with a doubleheader set for a 12 p.m. first pitch.
UK was scheduled to host Massachusetts in a three-game series but winter storm Thor has kept the Minutemen in the northeast and unable to travel. For the second consecutive week, UK’s coaches and staff scrambled to find new opponents due to travel and will welcome the Norse to Cliff Hagan Stadium for an impromptu three-game set.
Kentucky (9-3) has won seven consecutive games, dating back to an 11-7 win at No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, its longest winning streak since claiming nine straight in 2014. The Wildcats posted a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday in their home opener after opening up on the road for the first three weeks of the season, which marked UK’s longest stretch on the road since 2001. UK swept its four-game stretch in Port Charlotte, Fla., picking up two wins over Nebraska-Omaha, and a win over each Northeastern and Mount St. Mary’s.
The three-game series with UMass will be televised live on SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Doug Flynn calling the action. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on Fox Sports 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats will turn to the weekend rotation of sophomore right-hander Zack Brown (0-1, 3.09 ERA) on Saturday in the opener, junior right-hander Dustin Beggs (1-1, 2.08 ERA) in the second game of the series, and junior righty Kyle Cody (1-1, 4.50 ERA) in the finale.
Beggs has worked 17.1 innings in 2015, allowing 17 hits and two walks, striking out 12. In his last start on Friday vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Beggs worked in 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits and one unearned run, striking out five.
A 6-foot-7, 245-pounder, Cody has worked 14 innings, allowing only 10 hits and three walks, striking out 18. In his three-year career, Cody has appeared in 36 games with 19 starts, with an 8-4 record and a 4.10 ERA, saving five games in 109.2 innings, striking out 85. In his last start on Saturday vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Cody earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors after handcuffing the Mavericks through seven no-hit innings, with Cody fanning a career-high nine and issuing just one walk.
A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown has worked in 1.2 innings, allowing 12 hits and five walks, striking out 12. In his two-year career, Brown has worked in 22 games with seven starts, with a 1-2 record and a 4.91 ERA, tossing 40.1 innings. On Saturday vs. Northeastern, Brown worked a career-high six innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run, walking two and striking out five.
UK posted a 6-5 win over Nebraska-Omaha in the series-opener of its trip to Port Charlotte, Fla., on Friday, a 14-inning marathon that ended with a Thomas Bernal walk-off single with the bases loaded. UK then posted a 5-1 win over UNO in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, with Kyle Cody firing seven no-hit innings as UK narrowly missed its first combined no-hitter since 1974. UK then fought through a rain delay that left the facility without electricity in the nightcap, rallying from behind to post a 5-4 win over Northeastern. UK wrapped up the weekend with an 8-2 win over Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday, as Robert Zeigler made his first career start and picked up his first career win. UK’s pitching staff posted a 1.76 ERA over the four-game week last week, holding two different teams to only two hits in UK wins.
UK opened its home schedule with a two-game Tuesday starting with a 4-1 win over Murray State in the first game and a 4-3 win in the finale. In the first game, freshman lefty Zach Logue worked 6.2 innings and allowed one run in his first career start to post the win. UK then turned to another freshman southpaw, Brad Schaenzer for his first career start in the nightcap. Schaenzer worked five innings and allowed one run, walking one and striking out three.
Arnold, a native of Frankfort, Ky., stepped to the plate as the pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning and pulled a double down the line, scoring Connor Heady as the go-ahead run. The Wildcats then went on to score three runs to take a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning.
The Wildcats have hit .313 as a team through 12 games, with 19 doubles, two triples, six homers and 65 RBI, slugging .407 and reaching base at a .385 clip. UK has a 3.60 team ERA with three saves in 110 innings, walking 42 and striking out 104. Defensively, UK has fielded .967 with 13 double plays turned, allowing 11 steals.
Individually, UK has been led offensively by junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett, who has hit .431 with four doubles, seven RBI and three steals. Catcher Zach Arnold has a .429 average with three doubles and two RBI, with outfielder Ka’ai Tom batting .422 with four doubles, 10 RBI and two steals. Third baseman Thomas Bernal owns a .347 average with four doubles and 12 RBI, with first baseman Evan White batting .326 with a homer and eight RBI. Shortstop Riley Mahan has a .321 average with a double, triple and two RBI, while sophomore shortstop Connor Heady hitting .308 with a homer and three RBI. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has hit .267 with two doubles, one triple, two homers and nine RBI, stealing four bases. Rightfielder Storm Wilson has a .239 average with three RBI and five steals. Catcher Greg Fettes has launched two homers and driven in eight runs.
In the bullpen, UK has used senior Andrew Nelson (2-0, 3.24 ERA) a team-leading six times, with Nelson owning a save in 8.1 innings. Logan Salow (1-0, 5.62 ERA) has a save in five games, with senior Spencer Jack (0-0, 11.57 ERA) also saving a game in 2.1 innings. Dylan Dwyer (1-0, 0.00 ERA), Brad Schaenzer (0-0, 0.82 ERA), Zach Logue (1-0, 1.80 ERA), Zach Strecker (1-0, 3.18 ERA) and Robert Zeigler (1-0, 7.36 ERA) each appearing in at least three games.
Northern Kentucky: 2-8
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Saturday, March 7 * vs. Northern Kentucky * 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 8 * vs. Northern Kentucky * 12 p.m. [doubleheader]
Television (SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Doug Flynn)
SEC Network+ and WatchESPN
Radio (UK Radio Network with Dick Gabriel)
Saturday: Fox Sports 1580-AM in Lexington
Sunday: Fox Sports 630-AM in Lexington
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Saturday vs. NKU
So., RHP Zack Brown (0-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. R-Sr., LHP Matt Jefferson (0-3, 13.14 ERA)
Sunday vs. NKU
Jr., RHP Dustin Beggs (1-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Justin Watts (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday vs. NKU
Jr., RHP Kyle Cody (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. TBA
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
Free gameday parking is available in the C-8 lot beyond rightfield 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