Baseball Hosts No. 28 South Carolina in Weekend SEC Tilt

March 26, 2009

Kentucky Series Notes Get Acrobat Reader | South Carolina Series Notes Get Acrobat Reader

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coming off a series win over Vanderbilt last weekend, the Kentucky baseball team looks to continue its conference momentum, hosting No. 28 South Carolina in a three-game set, beginning Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (15-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) posted a series win over Vanderbilt last weekend, notching wins on Friday and Saturday, behind pitching from James Paxton and Chris Rusin. UK recently dropped back-to-back non-conference games in the mid-week at West Virginia and against Cincinnati, the first back-to-back non-conference losses for UK since the 2007 season.

The Wildcats trail the all-time series with USC, 26-35, dropping the series in 2008 in Columbia, the final season of USC's historic Sarge Frye Field. UK has lost back-to-back series with South Carolina, also suffering a defeat in Columbia in 2007. UK swept the Gamecocks in a thrilling series in 2006, as the two teams combined to score 67 runs in three games in Lexington, including a 10-9 Friday night win that saw John Shelby belt a walk-off homer off reliever Wynn Pelzer.

UK will send its starting weekend trio of Paxton, Rusin and freshman righty Alex Meyer to the bump for the weekend. Paxton, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound southpaw, has put up eye-popping numbers in his junior season, totaling a 4-0 record, a 3.30 ERA, striking out 47 and walking only six in 30 innings. Rusin, a Canton, Mich., native, has posted a 4-1 record and a 2.97 ERA, striking out 46 in 33.1 innings. In his last two starts, Rusin has worked complete-game wins, including a win at No. 3 LSU on SEC-opening weekend. During a three-start span, Rusin has gone 24 innings with five earned runs, posting a 1.50 ERA, a 3-0 record with 26 strikeouts. Sunday, Meyer, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound freshman, gets the starting assignment. Meyer, a native of Greensburg, Ind., has totaled a 1-1 record and a 4.81 ERA, tossing 24.1 innings with 24 strikeouts.

The Gamecocks will send ace right-hander Sam Dyson to the mound Friday to face off with Paxton. Dyson has totaled a 2.73 ERA and a 3-1 record in 29.2 innings, striking out 28 in five starts. Saturday's USC starter is to be announced, with senior right-hander Blake Cooper (3-2, 4.74 ERA) making the start Sunday.

South Carolina (16-6, 2-4 SEC) has been led offensively by outfielder DeAngelo Mack (.373 avg., 8 HR, 25 RBI), Nick Ebert (.386, 8 HR, 20 RBI), Andrew Crisp (.318, 6 HR, 20 RBI) and freshman Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.310, 4 HR, 12 RBI). Parker Bangs (.278, HR, 8 RBI), Whit Merrifield (.277, 4 HR, 16 RBI) and Justin Dalles (.274, 4 HR, 12 RBI) have helped anchor the Gamecock lineup.

UK has been led offensively by its catcher, Marcus Nidiffer, who leads the club with a .413 average, belting four homers and adding 17 RBI. Second baseman Chris Bisson (.376, 8 2B, HR, 22 RBI, 4-4 SB) and shortstop Chris Wade (.312, 3 2B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 5-6 SB) have helped provide a veteran presence, with freshmen Chad Wright (.361, 2 2B, HR, 9 RBI, 4-4 SB), Braden Kapteyn (.319, 3 2B, HR, 13 RBI), Andy Burns (.250, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI) and Cory Farris (.286, 8 RBI, 2-2 SB) having an immediate impact in their first collegiate seasons. Out of the bullpen, Tyler Henry (0-2, 4.88 ERA), Clint Tilford (1-2, 3.48 ERA) and Logan Darnell (2-0, 3.48 ERA) have ate up the most innings for the Wildcats.

Kentucky - 15-7, 3-3 SEC
South Carolina - 16-6, 2-4 SEC

Kentucky - receiving votes (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, NCBWA)
South Carolina - No. 28 (Collegiate Baseball)

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) - Lexington, Ky.
Friday, March 27 * 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 28 * 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 29 * 1 p.m.

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. South Carolina
LHP James Paxton (Jr., 4-0, 3.30 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Dyson (So., 3-1, 2.73 ERA)
Saturday vs. South Carolina
LHP Chris Rusin (Sr., 4-1, 2.97 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday vs. South Carolina
RHP Alex Meyer (Fr., 1-1, 4.81 ERA) vs. RHP Blake Cooper (Sr.,3-2, 4.74 ERA)

Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Baseball Sunday's
Fans can purchase Ice Cream Sundaes on Sunday at the ball park, served in a collectable mini-batting helmet, for $2.

$1 Hot Dogs and Hamburgers for UK Students Friday
UK students will be able to purchase $1 hot dogs and hamburgers Friday night, in a special area set up down the left-field line. Students must have valid UK ID.

Sunday Autographs
Postgame autograph session following each home SEC Sunday contest.

Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is free.

UK will utilize two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, and the 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.

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

$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating