Baseball Travels to No. 1 LSU for Three-Game Set

March 26, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Kentucky baseball team faces its third consecutive top-20 foe to open Southeastern Conference play, traveling to square off with No. 1 LSU in a three-game series, starting on Friday at 8 p.m. ET at Alex Box Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET at Alex Box Stadium.

Kentucky (16-9, 2-4 SEC) is coming off a two-game midweek stretch during the week, posting a win over Morehead State and suffering a loss at Western Kentucky. UK opened up the week on Tuesday with a 12-3 loss at Bowling Green Ballpark, before rebounding with a 9-4 win over Morehead on Wednesday, getting the first homer of the year from Storm Wilson and the first career win from junior righty Taylor Martin, who fired 2.2 shutout innings.

The three-game series will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN, in addition to coverage on the UK Radio Network with Neil Price. The three games can be heard locally on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

The Wildcats will send the weekend rotation of sophomore right-hander Zack Brown (2-2, 2.43 ERA) on Friday, junior righty Dustin Beggs (3-2, 3.44 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-hander Kyle Cody (2-2, 4.88 ERA) on Sunday. LSU will counter in the opener with sophomore southpaw Jared Poche' (5-1, 3.37 ERA), freshman righty Alex Lange (5-0, 1.42 ERA) on Saturday and freshman right-hander Jake Godfrey (5-0, 2.25 ERA).

A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown will be making his third consecutive SEC Friday night start to open the 2015 season. Brown has appeared in six games with five starts, working 33.1 innings, allowing only 22 hits and 15 walks, striking out a team-leading 31. In his career, Brown has a 3-3 record and a 3.92 ERA in 25 games and 10 starts, working 62 innings, allowing 26 walks, and striking out 49. Poche' has made six starts, working 34.2 innings, allowing 35 hits and 13 walks, striking out 23. Poche' suffered his first loss of the year last Thursday night at Arkansas, allowing 10 hits and five runs in 3.2 innings, surrendering two walks and striking out one on 79 pitches. As a freshman in 2014, Poche' had a 9-3 record and a 2.45 ERA in 91.2 innings, walking 26, allowing only 72 hits and striking out 52.

Beggs, a native of Roswell, Ga., has made six consecutive weekend starts to open his UK career. Beggs, a 17th round selection in the 2014 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, has worked 36.2 innings in 2015, allowing 30 hits and 10 walks, striking out 28. In his last start, Beggs picked up his third win of the year, working six innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking two and striking out two on Saturday vs. No. 20 Mississippi State. Beggs allowed single runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings, throwing 96 pitches. Lange has made six starts, working a team-high 38 innings, allowing only 24 hits and 10 walks, striking out 45. On Friday at Arkansas, Lange improved to 5-0 with seven one-run innings, allowing just four hits and two walks with six strikeouts on 99 pitches.

A native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Cody has made six starts in 2015, tossing 31.1 innings, allowing 27 hits and seven walks, striking out 30. In his three-year career, Cody has appeared in 39 games and started 22, owning a 9-5 record and a 4.25 ERA, with five saves in 127 innings, walking 40 and striking out 97. In his last start, Cody suffered a loss vs. No. 20 Mississippi State on Sunday. He worked four innings, allowing seven hits and nine runs - six earned - walking three without a strikeout, throwing 79 pitches. Cody worked into the third inning of a scoreless game, before allowing nine runs over the next three innings to end his outing. Godfrey has tossed 32 innings, allowing 30 hits and 18 walks, striking out 18. In his last start on Saturday at Arkansas, Godfrey improved to 5-0 with five innings, allowing one run on three walks and five strikeouts.

The Wildcats have hit .299 as a club in 2015, with a .394 slugging and a .388 on-base percentage, belting 10 homers and stealing 30 bases. Defensively, UK has fielded .965 with 25 double plays turned, catching five runners attempting to steal. On the mound, UK has a 4.29 team ERA in 224.2 innings, walking 81 and striking out 188.

UK has been led at the plate by junior leftfielder Ka'ai Tom, who has a .402 average with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 25 RBI in 25 games, stealing six bases. Kyle Barrett has hit .391 with five doubles, one homer and 13 RBI, stealing six bases. Catcher Zach Arnold has a .333 average with five doubles, with second baseman JaVon Shelby sporting a .322 average with four doubles, one triple, two homers and 19 RBI. First baseman Evan White has hit .307 with three doubles, one homer and 13 RBI. Shortstop Riley Mahan owns a .273 average with four doubles, one triple and seven RBI. Third baseman Thomas Bernal has hit .268 with five doubles and 18 RBI, with shortstop Connor Heady hitting .250 with a double, homer and six RBI. Rightfielder Storm Wilson has a .244 average with two doubles, two triples and a homer, driving in 10 runs and stealing six bases. Catcher Greg Fettes has added two doubles, two homers and 11 RBI.

In the bullpen, UK has seen a team-leading 10 appearances from senior right-hander Spencer Jack (0-0, 5.68 ERA) and Andrew Nelson (2-0, 3.55 ERA), with Jack notching three saves. Sophomore righty Zach Strecker (1-0, 3.38 ERA), along with freshman lefty Zach Logue (1-1, 5.49 ERA) have also appeared in 10 games. Logan Salow (1-1, 5.73 ERA), Brad Schaenzer (0-0, 2.12 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 2.19 ERA), Taylor Martin (1-0, 2.35 ERA), Bo Wilson (0-0, 2.45 ERA), Zach Pop (0-0, 6.75 ERA), Robert Zeigler (1-1, 9.00 ERA) and Matt Snyder (0-0, 16.88 ERA) have each appeared in at least four games.

Last week, the Wildcats posted their first series win over a ranked foe in 2015, setting a program record by winning five consecutive games over Mississippi State, eclipsing the previous record of four straight from the 1987-88 teams. UK rode a 10-2 win in the series opener, getting 7.1 innings from starter Zack Brown, who allowed just one earned run, a solo shot from Wes Rea. In the middle game, Kyle Barrett went 4-for-5 and Ka'ai Tom belted his second homer of the year, leading UK to a 9-7 win, with Spencer Jack earning his third save of the year with the final out after a four-run MSU ninth. In the finale, MSU plated 11 runs in the middle innings to post a 12-5 win, with Barrett collecting three hits.

LSU (22-3, 4-2 SEC) enters the series riding a three-game winning streak after posting a 13-7 win at Tulane on Tuesday. LSU rallied to win the series at Arkansas after dropping the first game, posting a 16-3 and a 7-4 win to clinch the series.

The Tigers have hit .332 as a team in 25 games, belting 20 homers, slugging .491 and reaching base at a .396 clip, stealing 39 bases. Defensively, the Tigers have fielded .972, turning 14 double plays and catching 11 runners stealing. On the mound, LSU has a 2.62 team ERA in 230 innings, walking 93 and striking out 219.

Individually, LSU has been led at the plate by All-America shortstop Alex Bregman, who has hit .327 with nine doubles, one triple, six homers and 24 RBI, stealing 13 bases. Kade Scivicque has hit .423 with seven doubles, three homers and 16 RBI. Outfielder Andrew Stevenson has a .407 average with two doubles, five triples and 10 RBI. Mark Laird owns a .392 average with a homer, 10 RBI and eight steals. Conner Hale has hit .350 with three homers and 24 RBI, with Jared Foster batting .348 with five homers and 20 RBI.

In relief for the Tigers, Jesse Stallings (0-0, 0.77 ERA) has 10 saves in 13 games, working 11.2 innings, allowing five hits and seven walks, striking out 14. Zac Person (0-0, 2.31 ERA) leads the team in appearances, with Alden Cartwright (0-0, 4.15 ERA) and Collin Strall (2-0, 1.46 ERA) each working in double-digit games in relief.

LSU leads the all-time series, 46-25-1, including a 26-7-1 all-time record in Baton Rouge. UK will be looking for its first series win over LSU since 2012, its first series win at LSU since 2007, UK's only series win at LSU in program history. UK went 2-0-1 in the series at LSU in 2007, with the teams tying 9-9 in the finale in a game that was called due to SEC travel policy. In the last meeting between the two teams in 2013, LSU swept the Wildcats with an 11-1 win in the opener, a 9-1 win in the second game and an 11-4 win in the finale.

UK will be facing a No. 1 ranked team for a SEC weekend series for the fifth consecutive season. UK has a 6-9 record vs. top-ranked foes since 2007, with UK's meeting at LSU marking its first at a No. 1 ranked team in that time. UK's last series win over a No. 1 came in 2013, when UK won two vs. South Carolina. UK also bested No. 1 LSU in 2012, claiming the final two games of the series.

Records
Kentucky - 16-9, 2-4 SEC
LSU - 22-3, 4-2 SEC

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
at No. 1 LSU * Friday, March 27 * 8 p.m.
at No. 1 LSU * Saturday, March 28 * 7:30 p.m.
at No. 1 LSU * Sunday, March 29 * 12 p.m.

Radio and Television
Friday, March 27

  • WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
  • SEC Network+ and WatchESPN

Saturday, March 28

  • WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
  • SEC Network+ and WatchESPN

Sunday, March 29

  • WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
  • SEC Network+ and WatchESPN

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday at No. 1 LSU
So., RHP Zack Brown (2-2, 2.43 ERA) vs. So., LHP Jared Poche' (5-1, 3.37 ERA)
Saturday at No. 1 LSU
Jr., RHP Dustin Beggs (3-2, 3.44 ERA) vs. Fr., RHP Alex Lange (5-0, 1.42 ERA)
Sunday at No. 1 LSU
Jr., RHP Kyle Cody (2-2, 4.88 ERA) vs. Fr., RHP Jake Godfrey (5-0, 2.25 ERA)