No. 17 Baseball Concludes Homestand with Xavier

March 25, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 17 Kentucky baseball team will wrap up its five-game homestand with a Wednesday matchup vs. Xavier, with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WWTF 1580-AM.

Kentucky (17-7) has moved back to a consensus top-25 team after claiming three wins last week, including a series win over No. 1 South Carolina. UK is ranked No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game, and No. 19 by Baseball America and in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll, also checking in No. 21 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top 30.

Xavier will start freshman left-hander Trent Astle (1-1, 3.38 ERA), who has worked in six games and in three starts, working 21.1 innings, allowing 15 hits and seven walks, striking out nine. Kentucky has not yet announced a starting pitcher.

Last week, the Wildcats faced off with the high-octane Gamecocks in a three-game series that matched up UK, the NCAA leader in runs scored, and South Carolina, the nation’s leader with a 1.36 team ERA. UK exploded for 13 runs in the series opener, before getting a tight 2-1 win over the Gamecocks in the series decider on Saturday. Sunday, Kentucky got down in a 2-0 hole after five innings, with USC getting three-run frames in the sixth and ninth innings to secure the win. In midweek action, UK posted a 10-3 win over Western Kentucky on Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Wildcats notched their second and third wins over Baseball America No. 1 ranked teams in the first 24 games, also besting top-ranked Virginia in the season opener on Feb. 14. Kentucky now has six wins over No. 1 ranked foes in the last four years of the Gary Henderson era, with UK’s series win over the top-ranked Gamecocks marking the third series win over a No. 1 foe in program history (1991 vs. LSU; 2012 vs. LSU; 2014 vs. South Carolina). UK posted 18 runs during the three-game series with the Gamecocks, which is 58 percent of the total amount of runs USC had allowed in its first 19 games of 2014 entering the weekend. In addition, UK stole six bases in the series with USC – including five on Friday night – with the Gamecocks entering the weekend having allowed just four steals in eight attempts.

Kentucky – which leads the NCAA in runs scored (222) for the third straight week – has hit an SEC-leading .315 to open 2014, slugging 53 doubles, five triples and 21 homers, adding 46 steals and a .422 on-base percentage. Defensively, UK has fielded .963 with 22 double plays turned and just 10 steals allowed. On the mound, UK has a 2.82 team ERA, in 214 innings, walking 65 and striking out 156.

Individually, senior catcher Micheal Thomas – the SEC Player of the Week – leads the SEC in average as the only regular batting over .400 with a .416 mark. Thomas has seven doubles, five homers and 28 RBI in 2014, with a .500 on-base percentage. Junior A.J. Reed lost his NCAA lead in homers for the first time in four weeks over the weekend but still leads the SEC with nine homers and 32 RBI, batting .378 with five doubles, one triple and a .527 on-base percentage. Junior centerfielder Austin Cousino – the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner – has hit .371 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and 16 RBI, stealing 11-of-11 bases. Leftfielder Ka’ai Tom has hit .328 with four doubles, 10 RBI and seven steals. Third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .323 with eight doubles, two homers and 20 RBI, while rightfielder Kyle Barrett owns a .305 mark with 10 steals.

UK has used the weekend rotation of Reed (4-1, 2.20 ERA), Chandler Shepherd (5-0, 2.20 ERA) and Andrew Nelson (1-1, 2.89 ERA) over the last two weeks. In relief, junior Spencer Jack (1-0, 0.66 ERA) has appeared in 13.2 innings and a team-high 11 games, striking out 10 and holding opponents to a .204 average. Freshman lefty Logan Salow (1-1, 1.04 ERA) has a save in eight relief appearances, striking out 12 in 8.2 innings, allowing just five singles. Sophomore Kyle Cody (2-0, 1.26 ERA) has appeared in four games with three starts, working 14.1 innings with seven strikeouts. Sophomore Zach Strecker (0-1, 3.60 ERA) has appeared in seven games with 10 strikeouts and one walk in five innings. Freshman Zack Brown (0-0, 1.69 ERA), sophomore Ryne Combs (1-1, 2.25 ERA) and sophomore Sam Mahar (1-0, 6.43) have each appeared in six games.

Xavier (12-10) is coming off a four-game series at Illinois, claiming the opening game of the series, before suffering three consecutive setbacks. The Musketeers have hit .274 as a team in 2014, with 125 runs scored in 22 games. XU has 31 doubles, two triples, 14 homers and a .359 on-base percentage, stealing 34-of-37 bases. Defensively, XU has fielded .967, turning 19 double plays and allowing 29-of-39 steal attempts. On the mound, XU has a 3.40 ERA, with six saves in 203.2 innings, walking 81 and striking out 104.

Individually, Xavier has been led at the plate by Derek Hansenbeck, who has hit .340 with two doubles, three homers and 14 RBI. Tres Eberhard has hit .304 with five doubles and one triple, stealing a team-high nine bags. Patrick Jones has hit .298 with six RBI, with Joe Forney driving in 13 RBI and owning a .293 average. Vinney Nittoli has two doubles, two homers and eight RBI, with Andre Jernigan owning a team-high 15 RBI and a .247 average.

In relief for Xavier, Brad Kirschner (1-0, 2.41 ERA) has appeared in 11 games with two saves, with Daniel Przenicny (0-2, 6.75 ERA), appearing in 11 games with three saves. Eric Stiene (1-0, 0.00 ERA), a Loveland, Ohio, native, has worked 19.2 shutout innings, allowing only a .152 opponent average.

The Wildcats lead the overall series with Xavier, 29-8 and have won 11 consecutive meetings in the series. UK has a 21-6 lead in games played in Lexington, with UK’s last meeting in the series coming in Lexington in 1998.

In the last meeting in Lexington in 2013, UK posted a 6-3 win on March 6, getting the first career win from Cody, who worked five innings, allowing four hits and two runs, striking out three. Trevor Gott picked up his second save of the year with a shutout ninth inning. UK got a run in the first inning, before XU took a lead with two in the fourth. UK then scored two in the fifth and single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth for the 6-3 win. UK got two hits from A.J. Reed, Max Kuhn and Micheal Thomas, with Reed belting his fifth homer of the year and Kuhn’s two knocks going as doubles. XU started Scott Klever, who worked five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking four and striking out two.  

UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, checking in as the league leader in average (.315), slugging (.464), on-base percentage (.422), runs (222), RBI (192), homers (21), total bases (392) and hit batters (45). UK also ranks second in steals (46), hits (266) and doubles (53), ranking third in walks (97).

Kentucky – 17-7, 3-3 SEC
Xavier – 12-10, 0-0 Big East

Kentucky – No. 17 (Collegiate Baseball/Perfect Game), No. 19 (Baseball America, USA Today/ESPN)
Xavier – not ranked

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. Xavier * March 26 * 4 p.m.

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
WWTF 1580-AM in Lexington

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Wednesday vs. Xavier
TBD vs. Fr., LHP Trent Astle (1-1, 3.38 ERA)

Internet Coverage
Live video, audio and stats on

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 the 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 is available in the C8 and PS7 lots.

$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors

$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating