No. 19 Baseball Hosts SEC-leading No. 12 Florida in Three-Game Set

April 3, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coming off its fifth win over a top-10 opponent to open the 2014 season, No. 19 Kentucky will return to action with a three-game series against the Southeastern Conference leader No. 12 Florida, starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Saturday game will be televised live on FSN, with Tom Werme and former UK great Larry Conley voicing the action. All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the game. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM. All three games will be live in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at

Kentucky (20-9, 4-5 SEC) is coming off a midweek 8-3 win over No. 9 Louisville on Tuesday, getting a 5.2 inning start from Dylan Dwyer for the win and a 2.2 inning save from Spencer Jack. UK also got the first career homer from Thomas Bernal and the third homer of the year from freshman JaVon Shelby. Last weekend, UK traveled to No. 5 Vanderbilt, where the Wildcats won the opener, 4-2, before falling in the final two games of the series, 9-3 and 6-2. On Friday, UK got a strong start from A.J. Reed for the win, with UK rallying from behind to beat 2013 SEC Pitcher of the Year Tyler Beede. On Saturday, Vanderbilt got five runs off Chandler Shepherd, handing the UK junior his first career SEC loss and his first loss of 2014. In the rubber match, Tyler Ferguson pitched Vanderbilt to an early lead, before the Wildcats rallied to cut the Dores lead to 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth. Vandy plated three runs to stretch the lead, getting the eighth save of the year from Carson Fulmer.

Kentucky will be facing off with its third consecutive top-15 opponent to open the first four weeks of SEC play. Last week, UK faced off with top-five opponents on the weekend for the first time in program history, with records dating back to 2003, as UK hosted No. 1 South Carolina, then traveled to No. 5 Vanderbilt. With UK hosting No. 12 Florida in a three-game series, it marks the first time since 2012 that UK has faced three consecutive teams on the weekend ranked in the top 15. UK faced three straight top-10 weekend opponents in 2012, with No. 18 Georgia, No. 10 Ole Miss and No. 9 Arkansas. UK also faced three consecutive top-15 weekend opponents in 2006, with No. 19 Florida, No. 12 Arkansas and No. 7 South Carolina. In 2004, UK also faced three straight weekend top-15 teams, with No. 7 Auburn, No. 14 Florida and No. 13 Tennessee.

The Wildcats will turn to the weekend rotation of junior lefty A.J. Reed (5-1, 2.20 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd (5-1, 3.26 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-hander Andrew Nelson (1-2, 3.21 ERA) on Sunday. Florida will counter with sophomore righty Eric Handhold (3-2, 2.70 ERA) on Friday and freshman right-hander Logan Shore (2-1, 1.35 ERA) on Saturday. UF has not determined a starting pitcher for Sunday.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed will be making his eight start of the year and his 22nd consecutive series-opening start. The midseason national player of the year by Perfect Game USA, Reed has worked 49 innings, allowing 40 hits and 14 walks, striking out 29, while also leading the SEC in homers (nine), RBI (33), slugging (.676) and total bases (69) at the plate. In his three-year career, Reed has a 12-12 record and a 3.11 ERA in 37 games and 26 starts, working 185 innings, allowing 38 walks and striking out 132. On Friday at No. 5 Vanderbilt, Reed picked up his third win over a top-five opponent to open the year. Reed worked eight strong innings, allowing nine hits and two runs, walking one and striking out seven. Reed allowed a run in the first inning after a walk and a one-out hit batter, before settling in to just allow a run on three hits in the fourth inning. He worked shutout frames through the eighth inning, retiring 10 of 12 hitters he faced from the fifth to the eighth. It marked Reed’s sixth consecutive quality start, after working just five innings in a season-opening win over No. 1 Virginia. In his last start vs. Florida in 2013, Reed suffered a hard-luck loss to open the series, working 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and one earned run, walking one and striking out five. UK third baseman Paul McConkey committed three errors in the seventh inning to allow three unearned runs to score and break open a 1-1 game. Reed allowed just a solo homer to Josh Tobias in the third inning, before UK rallied to tie the game in the top of the sixth, with Reed pitching around a leadoff triple in the bottom of the sixth. Handhold will be appearing in his 14th game of the year with three starts. Handhold has worked 30 innings with a save, allowing 25 hits and nine walks, striking out 20. In his last start, a walk-off series-opening win over No. 4 LSU, Handhold, worked 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits and one run, walking one and striking out three. In a rubber-match start vs. Kentucky in 2013, Handhold worked 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and five runs, walking one and striking out three.

Shepherd, a native of Louisa, Ky., has made seven middle-of-the-weekend starts in 2014. A 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, Shepherd has worked 47 innings, allowing 45 hits and 12 walks, striking out 35. In his three-year career, Shepherd has appeared in 51 games with 17 starts, owning a 13-2 record and a 3.29 ERA in 158.2 innings, walking 45 and striking out 107.  In his last start at No. 5 Vanderbilt on Saturday, Shepherd was saddled with his first career SEC loss. He allowed career highs in hits (11) and runs (seven) in six innings, walking two and striking out three vs. Vanderbilt. Shepherd allowed three runs in the bottom of the first inning, including two on a wind-blown homer from Dansby Swanson on a ball that looked like it would be drastically foul before hooking inside the line. Last year, Shepherd worked 1.2 innings in relief of Jerad Grundy for a series-evening win at Florida. Shepherd allowed three hits and one run, walking one in his 34 pitches, with UK holding a 7-3 lead when he entered in the seventh inning. Shore had appeared in seven games with six starts in 2014, working a team-high 40 innings, allowing 35 hits and seven walks, striking out 28. In his last start, a series-clinching win over No. 4 LSU on Saturday, Shore worked 8.2 innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out five. Shore was an out shy of a complete-game victory, before lefty Bobby Poyner came on to get the final out for the save.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Nelson will be making his fifth consecutive series-finale start for the Wildcats. Nelson has worked in eight games with five starts, tossing 33.2 innings, allowing 30 hits and seven walks, striking out 21. In his last start at No. 5 Vanderbilt, Nelson finished an out shy of his third career quality start, working 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and three walks, striking out two. Nelson owned a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning, allowing just one hit, before John Norwood gave Vandy the lead for good with a two-run homer, with the Dores getting a run in the sixth inning after a leadoff double and one-out single. Florida has not announced a starting pitcher for Sunday, but the Gators started Justin Shafer on Sunday vs. No. 4 LSU, with Shafer working two innings, allowing six hits and four runs, not issuing a walk and not striking anyone out.

Florida (19-10, 6-3 SEC) enters the weekend having won four of its last five games, including a four-game sweep over top-five opponents last week. UF posted a 4-1 win over No. 1 Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., in midweek action, before sweeping No. 4 LSU in Gainesville with a 2-1 walk-off win in the opener, a 6-2 result in the middle game and an 11-7 win in the finale. On Tuesday, the Gators suffered a 5-4 loss to Florida Atlantic in 11 innings.

The Gators have been led by a pitching staff that owns a 2.94 team ERA in 29 games, saving 12 games in 266.2 innings, walking 74 and striking out 217. At the plate, UF has hit .261 with 40 doubles, four triples, 10 homers and 124 runs scored, stealing 21 bases. Defensively, UF has fielded .977 with 21 double plays turned, allowing 26-of-37 steals.

Individually, UF has been led at the plate by Braden Mattson, who has hit .333 with four doubles, one homer and 17 RBI. Catcher Taylor Gushue has hit .324 with 10 doubles, three homers and a team-high 23 RBI. Richie Martin has a .283 average with eight doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in 29 games, stealing seven bases. Casey Turgeon has a .275 average with six doubles, two homers and 15 RBI, stealing three bases. Peter Alonso has a .237 average with a double, triple, homer and nine RBI, with Justin Shafer hitting .222 with a homer and eight RBI. Buddy Reed has hit .202 with three doubles and two RBI.

In relief for the Gators, Ryan Harris (1-0, 0.93 ERA) has appeared in 14 games, with four saves in 19.1 innings. Danny Young (3-0, 1.96 ERA) has a save in a team-best 16 games, striking out 21 in 23 innings. Aaron Rhodes (3-2, 2.01 ERA) has appeared in 14 games with three saves and 34 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. Lefty Bobby Poyner (3-2, 2.35 ERA) has two saves in 30.2 innings and 13 relief outings. Lefty Kriby Snead (1-0, 1.80 ERA) has appeared in 13 games and worked 10 innings.

Florida leads the all-time series, 132-59-1, including a 56-32-1 all-time record in Lexington. UK has won three of the last four meetings, with UK winning the series in 2013 and UF winning the series in 2012. Florida won the series from 2009-11, with UK winning its last home series vs. Florida in 2008.

In the 2013 meeting in Gainesville, the Wildcats and the Gators opened SEC play with a 4-1 UF win on a Friday night. The two teams were locked in a 1-1 game before UK third baseman Paul McConkey made three errors in the bottom of the seventh inning to allow three runs to score for the 4-1 UF win, handing UK starter A.J. Reed a hard-luck loss. Reed worked 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and just one earned run, walking one and striking out five. UF started Jay Carmichael, who worked 5.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run, walking two and striking out two, with Johnny Magliozzi getting the save in the ninth inning. UK got its only two hits from Reed and Cousino, with UF’s Josh Tobias launching a homer to start the scoring in the third. UK evened up the series on Saturday, as Jerad Grundy improved to 4-1 with six innings, allowing three runs. UK got three hits and four RBI, including his fifth homer of the year, from Austin Cousino, with Florida led by a three-hit game from centerfielder Harrison Bader. Jonathan Crawford suffered the loss for UF, allowing five runs on three hits and four walks in six innings. UK used Trevor Gott for the save, with Gott allowing an unearned run in the ninth of UK’s 11-5 win. UK won the series in the rubber match on Sunday with a 6-2 result, as Corey Littrell worked eight one-run innings and Gott notched the save. Eric Handhold started for Florida, working 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and five runs. UK got a three-run homer from Micheal Thomas in the second inning, with the Wildcats also getting two hits each from Cousino, Reed, Matt Reida and J.T. Riddle.

Florida won the 2012 series meeting in Lexington, with the Gators opening with a 5-3 win in the Thursday Night SEC ESPN Game of the Week. UK started Taylor Rogers, who worked six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, walking two and striking out five. Hudson Randall worked for UF, improving to 5-1 with 6.2 innings, allowing three runs and striking out four. UK got a homer from Michael Williams, with UF’s Preston Tucker launching his 12th homer of the year. Paco Rodriguez got the save for UF, working 2.1 shutout innings. UF claimed the series in the second game with a 5-1 win, getting the decisive run in the top of the eighth, before adding three runs in the ninth. UK started Jerad Grundy, who worked 7.1 innings, allowing six hits and one run. Karsten Whitson started for UK, allowing one run in 4.2 innings, with UF using Bobby Poyner, Greg Larson and Rodriguez in relief, with Rodriguez getting the save. UK got a two-hit game from Luke Maile, with Florida paced by a three-hit outing from Casey Turgeon. UK salvaged the series in the finale, getting a near complete-game from Corey Littrell for a 2-1 win. Littrell allowed nine hits and one run in eight innings, striking out five, before Trevor Gott picked up his single-season record-tying ninth save of the year. UK got two hits from Cousino and Williams, with Florida getting a three-hit game from Justin Shafer. Brian Johnson suffered the loss for UF, allowing a run in five innings. Jonathan Crawford worked three innings in relief for UF, allowing an unearned run.

UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, leading the conference in average (.307), slugging (.445), on-base percentage (.411), runs (248), RBI (213), homers (23) and total bases (445). UK also ranks second in hits (307), doubles (57) and hit batters (48), also ranking third in walks (130) and steals (48). Individually, A.J. Reed leads the SEC in homers (nine), slugging (.676), RBI (33) and total bases (69), also ranking fourth in runs (29), third in walks (21), third in innings pitched (49) and third in wins (five). Max Kuhn leads the SEC in runs (34) and walks (23), ranking sixth in on-base percentage (.444), ninth in hits (38), 12th in RBI (22) and 10th in doubles (nine). Austin Cousino ranks ninth in average (.358), 12th in slugging (.512), second in runs (31), first in hits (44), 10th in doubles (nine), fourth in triples (two), fourth in total bases (63), sixth in HBP (eight) and first in steals (12). Micheal Thomas ranks eighth in average (.358), third in slugging (.589), eighth in on-base percentage (.442), seventh in runs (25), fourth in RBI (29), third in homers (five) and ninth in total bases (56). Kyle Barrett ranks seventh in runs scored (25) and fourth in steals (10).

Kentucky – 20-9, 4-5 SEC
Florida – 19-10, 6-3 SEC

Kentucky – No. 19 (USA Today/ESPN), No. 21 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 22 (Baseball America, NCBWA)
Florida – No. 12 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 13 (Baseball America), No. 19 (NCBWA), No. 20 (USA Today/ESPN)

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. No. 12 Florida * Friday, April 4 * 6:30 p.m.
vs. No. 12 Florida * Saturday, April 5 * 1 p.m.
vs. No. 12 Florida * Sunday, April 6 * 12 p.m.

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
Friday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Saturday: WWTF 1580-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Sunday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville

Saturday: FSN (with Tom Werme and Larry Conley)

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Florida
Jr., LHP/1B A.J. Reed (5-2, 2.20 ERA) vs. So., RHP Eric Handhold (3-2, 2.70 ERA)
Saturday vs. Florida
Jr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (5-1, 3.26 ERA) vs. Fr., RHP Logan Shore (2-1, 1.35 ERA)
Sunday vs. Florida
Jr., RHP Andrew Nelson (1-2, 3.21 ERA) vs. TBA

Internet Coverage
Live video (Friday and Sunday only), 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