No. 22 Baseball Hosts Murray State Monday
Live blog from Cliff Hagan Stadium
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off a series sweep in its final non-conference weekend tune-up of the season, the No. 22 Kentucky baseball team will host in-state foe Murray State Monday, with first-pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium slated for 4 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (13-2) has two remaining non-conference games before No. 17 Ole Miss comes to Lexington for Southeastern Conference opening weekend. UK will face the defending Horizon League champions Wright State Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.
UK's game with Murray State Monday will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), 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.
The Wildcats posted a three-game sweep of IPFW during the weekend, outscoring the Mastadons 30-6. UK notched a 10-2 season-opening win Friday night, after an over three-hour rain delay, behind junior southpaw Logan Darnell. A native of Joelton, Tenn., Darnell tossed eight innings and allowed just one run for his third win of the season. In an 11-2 win Saturday, freshman Taylor Rogers hurled seven shutout innings in his fourth career start, striking out a career-high eight and allowing only four harmless singles. Sophomore Chad Wright went 3-for-5 with three RBI and sophomore Cory Farris launched his second homer of the year. Sunday, UK completed the sweep with a 9-3 result, with Alex Meyer picked up his third win of the year with five innings on the bump. Wright went 4-for-4 and Farris belted his third home run of the season.
Kentucky owns a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series with Murray State, including an 8-3 mark in games played in Lexington. UK has won eight consecutive meetings in the series, dating back to a 1997 loss at Murray State. UK lost the first ever meeting, the lone UK home loss in the series, 9-8 in 1946.
In the last meeting between the two schools, UK sprang a 4-3 win over Murray in an electric atmosphere in Paducah, Ky., at Brooks Stadium. UK trailed late in the game, before mounting a last-effort rally behind Keenan Wiley and then-shortstop Chris Wade. UK scored two runs in the ninth inning to force a bottom of the ninth and scored a game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning. UK right-hander Scott Green put on a show by closing out the game with strikeouts to all six of the hitters he faced in the final two innings for his sixth win of the season.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by Wiley, who leads the team with a .385 (20-for-52) average, adding three doubles, two homers and 11 RBI, drawing five walks and striking out just twice. Gunner Glad has hit .340 (17-for-50) on the year, with a homer, four doubles and 12 RBI. Wright has added a .323 (20-for-62) average with a double, triple, homer and a team-high 15 RBI, while Andy Burns leads the team with four homers, adding four doubles and nine RBI. Burns is currently riding a career-high 11-game hitting streak, while Wiley owns a nine-game hitting streak and Braden Kapteyn has charted an eight-game streak. UK has been without preseason All-American second baseman Chris Bisson, who has been sidelined due to injury the past five games. In his stead, Neiko Johnson has filled in, quickly emerging as a prime base-stealing threat, leading the league with 15 steals in 15 attempts, reaching base at a .389 clip.
In the bullpen, Matt Little leads the team with four saves, a 0.59 ERA and a 1-0 record in a club-best seven games. Little has tossed 15.1 innings and allowed only five hits and five walks, striking out 21 and holding opponents to a .109 average. Kapteyn, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way standout, has added a 0.00 ERA, a 1-0 record and a save in his three relief appearances, while junior submarine right-hander Nick Kennedy has a save and three strikeouts in his lone appearance on the year while recovering from injury last season.
Murray State (6-8) is coming off a series win over Saint Louis in Murray, Ky., highlighted by a rubber-match win Sunday, 12-2, behind a three-RBI day from shortstop Kyle Tiernan and a four-hit game from Colton Moore. Murray has hit for a .297 team average, with 14 homers in 14 games and has totaled a 6.51 team ERA. Wes Cunningham has led the way offensively, batting .406 (26-for-64) with five doubles, two triples, five homers and 17 RBI. Zach Noonon has added a .358 (19-for-53) average with three doubles and six RBI, while Bryan Popost has added Cunningham in power production, batting .340 (17-for-50) with three doubles, five homers and 11 RBI. Lexington Henry Clay High School product Jonathan Craycraft has hit .283 (13-for-46) with a double and a homer in 13 starts.
Murray is turning to right-hander Dan Huff (0-2, 5.60 ERA) in the game for his third start of the year. Huff has appeared in five games and owns a team-high three saves, tossing 17.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and eight walks. UK has yet to determine a starting pitcher.
Kentucky - 13-2, 0-0 SEC
Murray State - 6-8, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference
• No. 22 (Baseball America)
• No. 24 (Collegiate Baseball)
• No. 29 (NCBWA: 3/1/10)
• No. 19 (Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports)
• No. 22 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll)
• No. 21 (Ping! Baseball)
• Not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Monday, March 15 * vs. Murray State * 4 p.m.
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Monday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com;
Live blog from Cliff Hagan Stadium press box on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Monday vs. Murray State
TBA vs. RHP Dan Huff (0-2, 5.60 ERA)
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is free.
UK will utilize three lots during UK's spring break: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, the "R" lot, adjacent to the dorms or on the south side of the Nutter Training Facility, and the brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. All three 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.