Baseball Faces SEC leader, No. 5 Florida, in 3-Game Set
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of four consecutive games, Kentucky baseball will face a new test in a three-game series at No. 5 Florida, with first pitch of the series opener slated for 7 p.m. on Friday at McKethan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 7 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The three games will be broadcast live on SEC Network+, available via WatchESPN. The three games will also be on the UK Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (23-16, 8-9 Southeastern Conference) enters the battle against the co-SEC leader winners of four consecutive games, including a series sweep over Tennessee last weekend. UK also picked up a midweek win over Xavier on Tuesday, 6-1, with junior Kyle Cody making his ninth start of the season with four shutout frames.
The Wildcats will send sophomore righty Zack Brown (3-4, 3.13 ERA) to the mound in the series opener on Friday and junior right-hander Dustin Beggs (5-2, 2.78 ERA) will get the call on Saturday, with Sunday's starter to be announced. The Gators will counter with 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year, sophomore righty Logan Shore (6-2, 2.29 ERA) on Friday. Sophomore right-hander Dane Dunning (4-1, 3.02 ERA) will start on Saturday, with Sunday's starter to be announced.
Last week, Kentucky posted a historic sweep over rival Tennessee over the weekend, marking the first three-game sweep in Lexington in program history and UK's first sweep of UT since 2008. UK had last swept an SEC series during its 2012 school-record season. UK had a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings during the weekend, allowing only three earned runs and a .204 opponent average.
Kentucky has hit .301 as a team in 2015, ranking fourth in the SEC, owning a .407 slugging and a .388 on-base percentage. UK has fielded .964 as a team with 40 double plays, catching 11 runners stealing. On the mound, UK has a 4.25 ERA in 349.2 innings, walking 120 and striking out 278, with opponents hitting .360.
At the plate, junior leftfielder Ka'ai Tom leads the club with a .386 average, owning 13 doubles, one triple, three homers and 43 RBI -- second in the SEC. Tom has a .443 on-base percentage with 14 steals and a .538 slugging percentage. Centerfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .373 with 10 doubles, two triples, one homer and 21 RBI. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has a .352 average with eight doubles, one triple, five homers and 31 RBI, owning a .489 on-base percentage. First baseman Evan White has hit .329 with nine doubles, one triple, one homer and 19 RBI. Outfielder Dorian Hairston has hit .323 with two homers and 12 RBI, with catcher Zach Arnold sporting a .287 clip with nine RBI and six doubles. Third baseman Thomas Bernal has a .275 mark with a homer and 22 RBI, with Riley Mahan hitting .244 with a homer and eight driven in. Shortstop Connor Heady has hit .235 with a homer and nine RBI, with outfielder Marcus Carson hitting .239 with five RBI and five steals. Catcher Greg Fettes has launched two homers and driven in 13 runs.
In relief, UK has been led by a team-best 17 appearances from junior righty Zach Strecker (2-0, 3.15 ERA). Logan Salow (1-1, 8.04 ERA), Spencer Jack (1-1, 4.61 ERA), Zach Logue (2-1, 4.50 ERA), Brad Schaenzer (0-0, 3.38 ERA), Andrew Nelson (2-2, 3.32 ERA) and Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 2.14 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games. Jack has five saves, with Nelson, Logue and Salow each charting one.
Florida (32-10, 12-6 SEC) enters the game winning four consecutive games, including a 2-1 win over Bethune Cookman in midweek action on Tuesday. The Gators are in a three-way tie for first place with Missouri and Vanderbilt entering the weekend, winning eight of their last 10 games.
The Gators have hit .304 with 44 homers and a .474 slugging percentage, reaching base at a .384 clip, stealing 59 bases. Defensively, UF has fielded .985 with 33 double plays, throwing out 16 runners trying to steal. On the mound, UF has a 3.26 ERA in 375 innings, allowing only 319 hits and 107 walks, striking out 322, with opponents hitting .230.
Third baseman Josh Tobias leads the Gators with a .367 average, owning eight doubles, five triples, four homers and 30 RBI. Shortstop Richie Martin has hit .329 with three homers and 26 RBI, stealing 16 bases. Outfielder Harrison Bader has a .326 mark with 11 homers and 43 RBI, with Dalton Guthrie sporting a .315 average with two homers and 17 RBI. Centerfielder Buddy Reed has hit .310 with a homer and 31 RBI, stealing 14 bases. JJ Schwarz has belted 13 homers and 10 doubles, hitting .301 with a .647 slugging percentage. Mike Rivera has hit .281 with five doubles, two homers and 28 RBI.
In relief, UF has a team-high six saves from Taylor Lewis (2-1, 2.36 ERA) and three saves from Bobby Poyner (3-1, 1.93 ERA), who has walked only three in 42 innings. Alex Faedo (3-1, 2.65 ERA), A.J. Puk (6-3, 5.87 ERA), Danny Young (1-0, 3.20 ERA), Frank Rubio (0-1, 3.46 ERA), Aaron Rhodes (1-0, 3.66 ERA), Shaun Anderson (0-0, 4.41 ERA), Eric Hanhold (1-0, 4.58 ERA) and Kirby Snead (1-0, 4.91 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games.
Kentucky -- 22-16, 8-9 SEC
Florida -- 32-10, 12-6 SEC
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
at Florida * Friday, April 24 * 7 p.m.
at Florida * Saturday, April 25 * 7 p.m.
at Florida * Sunday, April 26 * 12:30 p.m.
- WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
- WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
- SEC Network+ and WatchESPN
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday at Florida
So., RHP Zack Brown (3-4, 3.13 ERA) vs. So., RHP Logan Shore (6-2, 2.29 ERA)
Saturday at Florida
Jr., RHP Dustin Beggs (5-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. So., RHP Dane Dunning (4-1, 3.02 ERA)
Sunday at Florida
TBA vs. TBA
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com