No. 19 Baseball Travels to Texas A&M

April 17, 2014

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Coming off a midweek win at No. 9 Louisville on Tuesday, No. 19 Kentucky will continue its four-game road swing by traveling to College Station, Texas, to face off with Texas A&M, with first pitch of the series opener on Friday slated for 7:35 p.m. ET at Blue Bell Park. The series will resume on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. ET, before concluding on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.

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

Kentucky (24-13, 7-8 Southeastern Conference) posted a 4-2 win at Louisville on Tuesday, completing the sweep of the Cardinals for the first time since the 2011 season, as UK won the first meeting in Lexington on April 1, 8-3. UK got heroic relief outings from freshmen Zack Brown and Logan Salow in the win, with the duo combining for six shutout innings in support of starter Ryne Combs.

Last weekend, the Wildcats suffered a series loss to Missouri in Lexington. UK mounted a comeback on Friday night vs. Missouri to take a two-run lead into the eighth inning, before allowing the go-ahead three-run homer in the series-opening loss. UK bounced back with a 12-0 win to even the series on Saturday, getting a homer for the second consecutive game and the record fifth straight SEC game from A.J. Reed, who struck out a career-high 10 on Friday in a no decision. In the rubber match on Sunday, UK rallied to tie the game at 4-4, before starting pitcher/DH Eric Anderson – who hit the game-winning homer on Friday – drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and the Tigers added four runs on two UK errors in the ninth for an 8-3 win. It marked UK’s first home series loss of 2014 and its first since falling to No. 1 Vanderbilt in 2013.

The Wildcats will turn to the starting rotation of junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed (6-1, 2.29 ERA) on Friday, sophomore southpaw Dylan Dwyer (4-1, 3.76 ERA) on Saturday and junior righty Andrew Nelson (1-3, 3.22 ERA) on Sunday. Texas A&M will counter with senior righty Jason Jester (2-2, 4.26 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander Daniel Mengden (2-5, 4.05 ERA) on Saturday and sophomore righty Grayson Long (4-1, 2.47 ERA) on Sunday.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed will be making his 24th consecutive series-opening start for the Wildcats and his 10th of 2014. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder has made nine starts in 2014, working 63 innings, allowing 54 hits and 17 walks, striking out 42 and holding opponents to a .230 average. In his three-year career, Reed ranks fourth in program history with a 3.08 ERA, owning a 13-12 mark in 39 games and 28 starts, tossing 199 innings, walking 41 and striking out 145. In his last start on Friday vs. Missouri, Reed took a no-decision despite striking out a career-high 10 in seven innings. Reed left with a two-run lead to start the eighth inning after allowing nine hits and five runs – four earned – in seven innings, walking one. Reed allowed a first-inning run on a leadoff double, before a homer in the third inning gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Reed then hit the cleanup hitter on a 3-2 count with two outs in the fifth, loading the bases before two runs scored on a bloop single with three UK defenders colliding in the outfield. Jester has appeared in 16 games with one start in 2014, with three saves in 19 innings, allowing 27 hits and 10 walks, striking out 19. Jester worked four innings on Friday at No. 7 Vanderbilt, allowing six hits and three runs – two earned – walking two and striking out four.

Dwyer, a native of Murray, Ky., will be making his second career SEC start after shining in his first SEC starting assignment on Saturday vs. Missouri. Dwyer has appeared in nine games and started six, working one complete-game shutout in 38.1 innings, allowing 33 hits and 11 walks, striking out 36. In his two-year career, Dwyer has appeared in 23 games with six starts, with a 5-1 record and a 3.79 ERA, tossing 54.2 innings, allowing 53 hits and 18 walks, striking out 43. Dwyer made his first career SEC start on Saturday vs. Missouri and pitched a gem to even the series. He fired 6.1 shutout innings, allowing six hits - five singles - walking one and striking out two. Was in a tight game through a 0-0 game after the top of the fourth, before UK got a three-run frame and a nine-run tally in the bottom of the fifth inning edging the lead. Dwyer worked around a double in the second and singles in the third and fourth innings. He got into a two-out jam in the sixth inning but UK centerfielder Austin Cousino fired a strike to the plate to end the inning and keep the shutout intact. Allowed a pair of one-out singles in the seventh before UK turned to Logan Salow, who got an inning-ending double play. Mengden has made nine starts in 2014, working 60 innings, allowing 54 hits and 19 walks, striking out 68. In his last start on Saturday at No. 7 Vanderbilt, Mengden worked three innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, walking two and striking out three on 87 pitches.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Nelson has appeared in 10 games with seven starts in 2014, tossing 44.2 innings, allowing 45 hits and 11 walks, striking out 24. Nelson worked six innings in a loss to Missouri on Sunday in the rubber match, scattering 10 hits - eight single - allowing four runs and three walks, striking out two. Nelson pitched well enough for UK to win, allowing a two-run frame in the third, a run in the fourth after a two-out walk, hit batter and single and a run in the sixth inning that edged the Mizzou lead to 4-2 after a lead-off double. Long has made nine starts in 2014, working 54.2 innings, allowing 56 hits and 15 walks, striking out 34. In his last start on Sunday at No. 7 Vanderbilt, Long worked 7.2 innings, allowing 11 hits and two runs, walking one and striking out four on 122 pitches.

Kentucky has hit an SEC-leading .310, pacing the conference in runs (314), homers (33), slugging (.452) and on-base percentage (.408). UK has cranked 72 doubles and stolen 53 bases. Defensively, UK has fielded .965, turning 36 double plays and allowing just 18 steals. On the mound, UK has a 3.28 team ERA with six saves in 329 innings, allowing 322 hits, 100 walks and 231 strikeouts.

The Wildcats have been led at the plate by junior two-way star A.J. Reed, the midseason national player of the year. Reed has hit .363 with 10 doubles, one triple, 14 homers and 48 RBI, sporting a .763 slugging and a .485 on-base percentage. Senior catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .344 with seven doubles, one triple, six homers and 35 RBI. First baseman Thomas Bernal has a .343 average with four doubles, one homer and 17 RBI, owning a .429 on-base percentage. Third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .336 with 11 doubles, four homers and 34 RBI, leading the SEC with 29 walks. Centerfielder Austin Cousino has hit .335 with 10 doubles, two triples, three homers and 25 RBI, stealing 13 bases. Leftfielder Ka’ai Tom has a .301 average with six doubles, 17 RBI and 11 steals. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .276 with five doubles, one homer and 18 RBI, stealing 10 bases. Freshman JaVon Shelby has a .268 average with six doubles, one triple, three homers and 16 RBI. Shortstop Matt Reida has hit .228 with three doubles and 18 RBI.

In relief for UK, junior righty Spencer Jack (1-1, 1.59 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 17 games, with two saves in 22.2 innings, allowing 15 hits and five walks, striking out 17. Freshman Logan Salow (2-1, 1.53 ERA) has appeared in 14 games with one save in 17.2 innings, allowing 14 hits – 13 singles – six walks and striking out 19. Sophomore Kyle Cody (3-0, 2.57 ERA) has three saves in 11 games and three starts, working 21 innings, allowing 20 hits and four walks, striking out 11. Freshman Zack Brown (0-0, 2.70 ERA) has worked in 11 games in relief, working 10 innings, with Ryne Combs (1-2, 4.10 ERA) and Zach Strecker (0-1, 4.15 ERA) each appearing in at least 11 games.

Texas A&M (23-15, 7-8 SEC) is coming off a midweek rout of Abilene Christian on Wednesday in College Station and a huge series win at No. 7 Vanderbilt last weekend, handing the Dores its first series loss in over at home in a year. The Aggies have hit .277 as a team in 2014, with 59 doubles, eight triples, 14 homers and 179 RBI, stealing 42 bases and owning a .370 slugging and a .356 on-base percentage. Defensively, TAMU has fielded .972, turning 21 double plays and allowing 32 steals. On the mound, Texas A&M has a 3.36 ERA in 331.2 innings, allowing 319 hits and 105 walks, striking out 307.

Individually, the Aggies have been led at the plate by Nick Banks, who has hit .323 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 12 RBI. Cole Lankford has a .315 average with eight doubles, four homers and 31 RBI, with Krey Bratsen hitting .299 with two doubles, one triple, five RBI and 10 steals. Patrick McLendon has a .296 average, Mitchell Nau has hit .295 and Blake Allemand has a .288 average. Catcher Troy Stein has hit .283, with J.B. Moss owning a .267 mark.

In relief, Andrew Vinson (1-1, 2.81 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 20 games, with one save in 25.2 innings, allowing 15 hits and five walks, striking out 27. A.J. Minter (1-0, 1.50 ERA), Ty Schlottmann (0-1, 2.45 ERA), Jason Freeman (1-0, 3.95 ERA) and Matt Kent (2-0, 4.07 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games in relief.

Kentucky will be meeting Texas A&M for the first time since 2002 and the fourth time in program history. UK played two games in 1989 in College Station, both losses, before claiming a 3-1 win in a 2002 meeting in College Station.

Head coach: Rob Childress (Eighth year)
2013 record/SEC finish: 34-29, 13-16 SEC/ninth
Final RPI: No. 32
Final ranking: not ranked
Postseason: 2-2 (NCAA Corvallis Regional)
Key returning position players: C Troy Stein (.287/.342/.435, 5 HR, 23 RBI), IF Hunter Melton (.280/.341/.483, 6 HR, 21 RBI), C/RHP Daniel Mengden (.271/.344/.393, 3 HR, 16 RBI), IF Blake Allemand (.253/.367/.313, HR, 27 RBI, 16-25 SB), OF Jace Statum (.252/.371/.277, 10 RBI), OF Jonathan Moroney (.246/.278/.358, 2 HR, 20 RBI)
Key returning pitchers: RHP Parker Ray (2-1, 1.73 ERA, 23 APP, 6 GS, 67.2 IP, 44 SO), C/RHP Daniel Mengden (8-4, 2.11 ERA, 16 GS, 110.2 IP, 94 SO), RHP Jason Jester (3-4, 2.47 ERA, 33 APP, 14 SV, 47.1 IP, 39 SO), RHP Grayson Long (4-2, 3.52 ERA, 12 APP, 10 GS, 46 IP, 38 SO), RHP Andrew Vinson (1-1, 4.05 ERA, 16 APP, 20 IP, 20 SO), LHP Matt Kent (2-3, 4.17 ERA, 26 APP, 2 GS, 36.2 IP, 21 SO)
Key position player losses: OF Cole Lankford (.352/.384/.514, 3 HR, 40 RBI), SS Mikey Reynolds (.342/.413/.431, HR, 25 RBI, 19-26 SB), OF Krey Bratsen (.279/.335/.333, HR, 23 RBI, 18-21 SB)
Key pitcher losses: RHP Rafael Pineda (6-5, 3.23 ERA, 16 APP, 14 GS, 69.2 IP, 40 SO)
Series record: Texas A&M leads 2-1, including 2-1 in College Station
Last meeting: Texas A&M won meeting (3-1) in 2002

Kentucky – 24-13, 7-8 SEC
Texas A&M – 23-15, 7-8 SEC

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
at Texas A&M * Friday, April 18 * 7:35 p.m. ET
at Texas A&M * Saturday, April 19 * 3:05 p.m. ET
at Texas A&M * Sunday, April 20 * 1:05 p.m. ET

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price
Friday, April 18
•    WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
•    WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Saturday, April 19
•    WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
•    WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Sunday, April 20
•    WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
•    WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday at Texas A&M
Jr., LHP/1B A.J. Reed (6-1, 2.29 ERA) vs. Sr., RHP Jason Jester (2-2, 4.26 ERA)
Saturday at Texas A&M
So., LHP Dylan Dwyer (4-1, 3.76 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Daniel Mengden (2-5, 4.05 ERA)
Sunday at Texas A&M
Jr., RHP Andrew Nelson (1-3, 3.22 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Grayson Long (4-1, 2.47 ERA)