No. 1 Baseball Travels to No. 9 Arkansas
April 12, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Leading the Southeastern Conference standings through four weekends, No. 1 Kentucky travels to No. 9 Arkansas for one of its toughest tests of the year in a three-game series, starting Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET at Baum Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Kentucky - 30-4, 9-3 SEC
|Friday at Arkansas, 7:35 pm|
Jr., LHP Taylor Rogers (4-1, 4.53 ERA) vs. So., RHP Ryne Stanek (6-1, 1.65 ERA)
|Saturday at Arkansas, 3:05 pm|
Jr., LHP Jerad Grundy (3-1, 4.32 ERA) vs. So., RHP Barrett Astin (2-2, 0.84 ERA)Radio: UK IMG (WLAP 630 AM in Lexington, WKJK in Lou.)
|Sunday at Arkansas, 1:05 pm|
So., LHP Corey Littrell (5-0, 2.02 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP DJ Baxendale (6-1, 4.20 ERA)Radio: UK IMG (WLAP 630 AM in Lexington, WKJK in Lou.)
Kentucky (30-4, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) has opened up its four conference weekends with series victories over No. 18 Georgia and No. 10 Ole Miss, at Tennessee and a three-game sweep over No. 2 South Carolina. UK's road series is its third through the first five conference weekends. In its lone midweek game of the week, the Wildcats snapped their 21-game non-conference winning streak with a 12-0 loss to No. 19 Louisville.
The three games 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 games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
UK enters the series leading the SEC by one game and sitting two games ahead of Florida in the SEC Eastern Division. UK is off to the best start to a season in program history, off to its best start through four conference weekends in school annals and leads the NCAA in wins.
UK will send its regular weekend starting pitching rotation of junior southpaw Taylor Rogers (4-1, 4.53 ERA) to the mound on Friday, with junior lefty Jerad Grundy (3-1, 4.32 ERA) starting on Saturday and sophomore left-hander Corey Littrell (5-0, 2.02 ERA) on Sunday. Arkansas will counter with one of the top pitchers in college baseball on Friday night, sophomore right-hander Ryne Stanek (6-1, 1.65 ERA), with another star right-hander, Barrett Astin (2-2, 0.84 ERA) on Saturday. On Sunday, All-SEC hurler DJ. Baxendale (6-1, 4.20 ERA), facing off with Littrell.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has made eight series-opening starts in 2012 as UK's veteran Friday-night starter. Rogers has worked 45.2 innings, allowing 52 hits and eight walks, striking out 52. In his three-year career, Rogers - the 2011 winning pitched in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game - has started 35 career games, with an 11-15 mark and a 5.51 ERA, striking out 140 in 205.2 innings. In his last start, Rogers battled through five innings, allowing 10 hits and two runs, striking out five as UK rallied to win the game vs. No. 10 Ole Miss in the bottom of the eighth inning. Stanek, regarded as one of the top pitchers in college baseball, has started eight games in 2012, tossing 49 innings, allowing 37 hits and 16 walks, striking out 49.
Grundy, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) and Heartland CC, will be making his ninth weekend start on Saturday. On the year, Grundy has made eight starts, tossing 41.2 innings, allowing 39 hits and 15 walks, striking out 32 and holding opponents to a .247 average. In his last start, Grundy worked 4.2 innings, allowing five hits and six runs, walking three and striking out three in his first career loss. Grundy was working a gem in the fifth inning of a 0-0 tie, before Ole Miss mounted an eight-run frame to blow open the game and end his start. Astin has appeared in 14 games with two starts, working 32 innings and allowing 20 hits and 12 walks, saving six games and striking out 34.
A native of Louisville, Ky., and the 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year, Littrell will be making his eighth consecutive weekend series finale start. On the year, Littrell has tossed 49 innings, allowing 47 hits and 13 walks, striking out 45. In his two-year career, Littrell has appeared in 24 games with 21 starts, posting a 11-6 record and a 4.90 ERA, working 117.2 innings, walking 412 and striking out 96. In his last start at No. 10 Ole Miss, with the series on the line, Littrell worked six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs, walking two and striking out four in the winning effort, his third consecutive Sunday rubber-match win. Baxendale has made nine starts in 2012, working 40.2 innings, allowing 46 hits, 10 walks and striking out 34.
The Wildcats have hit .323 as a club through 34 games, posting 40 homers and 261 runs scored. UK has stole 32 bases and fielded .973 as a club, with the UK pitching staff walking 85 and striking out 300 in 302 innings pitched, with nine saves.
Individually, UK has been led by outfielders Lucas Witt and Austin Cousino, with Witt pacing the club with a .364 average. Cousino has batted .355 with 13 doubles, one triple, five homers and 27 RBI, stealing seven bases and totaling seven outfield assists from centerfield. Freshman A.J. Reed has hit .339 with seven doubles, three homers and 33 RBI, while catcher Luke Maile owns a .336 average with nine doubles, nine homers and 36 RBI, stealing seven bases. Outfielder Cameron Flynn has launched eight homers, batting .330 with six doubles and 26 RBI. Outfielder Zac Zellers owns a .311 average with seven doubles, four homers and 16 RBI. Second baseman J.T. Riddle has hit .311 with eight doubles, three homers and 23 RBI, while third baseman Thomas McCarthy owns a .305 average with nine doubles, five homers and 20 RBI. Catcher Michael Williams has hit .287 with four doubles and 22 RBI, while shortstop Matt Reida owns a .267 mark with five doubles, one homer and 14 RBI.
In the bullpen, UK has been paced by a team-leading 16 appearances from junior right-hander Tim Peterson (2-0, 2.81 ERA), who has struck out 22 in 16 innings. Trevor Gott (1-0, 1.50 ERA) has seven saves in eight chances, striking out 19 in 12 innings. Senior Alex Phillips (5-0, 2.01 ERA) has also appeared in 14 games, with two saves and 26 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. Reed (4-1, 3.77 ERA) has appeared in 10 games with 31 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, while Walter Wijas (3-0, 7.47 ERA) has also appeared in 13 games with 15 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.
Arkansas (24-8, 7-5 SEC) has hit .278 as a team through 32 games, with 23 homers and 194 runs scored, stealing 43 bases and fielding .968. On the mound, Arkansas owns a sparkling 2.67 ERA with 10 saves, striking out 269 and walking 95 in 290 innings.
Offensively the Razorbacks have been led by third baseman Matt Reynolds, who has hit .346 with 11 doubles, three homers and 23 RBI, stealing 10 bases. First baseman Dominic Ficociello owns a .333 average with nine doubles, four homers and 21 RBI, while shortstop Tim Carver has hit .317 with eight doubles, 17 RBI and 12 steals. Sam Bates leads the club with five homers, hitting .259.
In the bullpen, UA has been paced by Astin's six saves, with the multi-use righty appearing in 14 games with two weekend starts. Brandon Moore (3-0, 1.09 ERA) has appeared in 12 games with two starts, saving two games and walking only one in 33 innings. Cade Lynch (0-1, 2.22 Era) has appeared in 11 games with two saves in 28.1 innings, striking out 29. The closer from 2011, flame-thrower Nolan Sanburn (2-1, 2.75 ERA) has appeared in 11 games, striking out 24 in 19.2 innings.
Arkansas leads the overall series 31-20, including a 17-7 mark in games played in Fayetteville. The Wildcats have won only one series at Arkansas in the history of the series, coming with two wins in the three-game set in 2002.
In the last meeting between the two teams UK won the series in 2011 in Lexington, as the Wildcats walked off with a 3-2 win on Friday night. In the second game, UK posted a 3-1 win, before Arkansas rallied to salvage the series with a 5-1 win on Sunday. In the opener, UK used a complete-game outing from Alex Meyer, striking out 10 and allowing only one earned run. Randall Fant worked for Arkansas, tossing seven innings, allowing one run and striking out five. Astin worked a shutout innings with three strikeouts, before Sanburn took the loss, allowing four hits and two runs in the ninth inning as UK rallied with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Williams led UK with three hits, with Chad Wright adding a two-hit game. In the second game, UK got a splendid start from Littrell, who worked 5.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run, walking two and striking out four. UK got two runs in the fourth inning and plated an insurance run in the eighth inning for the win, with Phillips and Gott locking down the final outs in the bullpen. Baxendale worked only two innings as he battled minor injury, before Lynch took over to toss 4.1 innings allowing two hits and two runs. Astin worked 1.1 innings with three this and one run, before Trent Daniel got one out. Offensively, McCarthy led the way with two hits, with Maile belting a two-run homer in the fourth. In the finale, Rogers started for UK allowing nine hits and five runs in the seven-inning game, with Arkansas breaking open the 1-1 tie with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Moore started for Arkansas, going 1.2 innings, allowing four hits and one run. Trent Daniel (0-0, 8.64 ERA) worked four shutout innings in relief to seal the win. In the series in Fayetteville in 2010, UK suffered a hard series defeat, as the Razorbacks hit a walk-off grand slam with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the rubber match, with UK nursing a three-run lead. UK won the first game, 12-8 behind a strong relief outings from Nick Kennedy and a four-hit game from Braden Kapteyn, with Wright adding three hits and Gunner Glad a three-hit game. Arkansas evened the game 10-1 behind Drew Smyly - now a member of the Detroit Tigers five-man rotation - who worked seven innings and allowing only one run. Rogers suffered the loss as a freshman, allowing eight runs and 11 hits in four innings. The Sunday game was one of the wildest games in UK baseball history, as UK opened up with five runs in the second inning, before UA plated eight runs in the bottom of the inning to chase Meyer in the worst start of his career. Arkansas took a 13-5 lead into the fifth inning, before UK rallied with 11 unanswered runs to take a 16-13 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. Down to its last strike, No. 10 Arkansas got the walk-off grand slam from Collin Kuhn for the win, setting off a wild scene in Fayetteville.