Baseball Hosts Auburn in Home Finale
May 8, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky baseball team will wrap up its home schedule this weekend, playing host to Auburn in a three-game series, with first pitch in the series opener on Friday slated for 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Saturday and Sunday games will be televised live by the UK IMG Network, on Fox Sports South and CWKYT-TV, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Brian Milam on the call. All 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.
Kentucky (28-19, 10-14 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a series loss at Tennessee last weekend. UK posted a 15-1 win in the opener on Thursday, before the Vols evened the series with an 8-2 win on Friday and claimed the rubber match 5-1 on Saturday. UT got heroic pitching performances from its starters on Friday and Saturday, as Nick Williams threw 128 pitches on Friday and Andy Cox fired 125 pitches on Saturday. UK’s win on Thursday saw homers from A.J. Reed, Ka’ai Tom, Matt Reida and Storm Wilson, with Reed also working eight one-run innings on the mound.
The Wildcats will turn to the weekend rotation of junior left-hander/first baseman A.J. Reed (8-, 2.20 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd (5-2, 3.55 ERA) on Saturday, with its Sunday starter to be announced. Auburn will counter with senior right-hander Dillon Ortman (8-3, 2.07 ERA) on Friday, freshman two-way star Keegan Thompson (5-3, 1.91 ERA) on Saturday and senior southpaw Michael O’Neal (3-5, 3.66 ERA) on Sunday.
A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed has made 26 consecutive weekend-opening starts for the Wildcats. A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, Reed has made 12 starts in 2014, working 82 innings, allowing 73 hits and 23 walks, striking out 58 and holding opponents to a .236 average. On Thursday, Reed tossed eight strong innings for a win at Tennessee, allowing just three hits and one run, walking four and striking out nine on 113 pitches. He allowed just one run in the first inning, before settling in to fire seven consecutive shutout innings to end the outing and pick up his SEC-leading eighth win of the year. In his three-year career, Reed ranks fourth with a 2.97 ERA in 42 games and 31 starts, owning a 15-13 record in 218 innings, allowing 47 walks and striking out 161. Ortman and Reed enter the start on Friday tied for the SEC lead with eight wins. Ortman has worked 87 innings in 2014, allowing 74 hits and 11 walks, striking out 53 and holding opponents to a .194 average. In his last start, Ortman worked 7.1 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking one and striking out three on 89 pitches. He allowed single runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings in a 3-0 loss.
Shepherd, a native of Louisa, Ky., has worked in 10 games with eight starts in 2014. He has worked 58.1 innings, allowing 63 hits and 18 walks, striking out 41. Shepherd is coming off his best outing since March 22 vs. No. 1 South Carolina, with his five innings allowing him to get stretched back out after a 21-day layoff due to a forearm laceration. He came on with two runners on and no outs in the fourth inning on Friday at Tennessee. Shepherd slipped when fielding a bunt attempt to load the bases with no outs, before getting a key strikeout for the first out, before walking in a run with a walk to Christin Stewart. Shepherd allowed an RBI fielder’s choice, before getting a strikeout to escape the fourth. Shepherd allowed a leadoff double and an RBI double in the fifth inning, working around a walk, surrendering an RBI single with UK getting the out at third to end the frame. He went on to work shutout sixth, seventh and eighth innings, allowing just a walk and single in the last three innings. In his three-year career, Shepherd is the UK record holder for career winning percentage with a 13-3 mark and a 3.39 ERA. Shepherd has appeared in 54 games and started 18, saving one in 170 career innings, allowing 173 hits and 51 walks, striking out 113.
Andrew Nelson, a native of Omaha, Neb., has appeared in 13 games with 10 starts, making the last eight SEC series finale starts. Nelson has worked 57.1 innings, allowing 63 hits and 15 walks, striking out 26. Nelson pitched well enough for UK to win on Saturday in the rubber match at Tennessee. He allowed only two hits and two runs in 4.2 innings, with the damaging coming in the first inning as Will Maddox led off the inning with a single, stole second and took third on a sac bunt, scoring on a sac fly. UK trailed 1-0 when Nelson walked the leadoff hitter to open the fifth inning, allowing a single and a sac bunt, getting a line out for the second out.
The Wildcats have been paced by their explosive offensive attack, batting .305 as a team, slugging .456 and reaching base at a .403 clip. UK has allowed 86 doubles, nine triples, 49 homers and scoring 381 runs, stealing 58 bases. On the mound, UK has a 4.15 ERA in 47 games and 416 innings, walking 138 and striking out 292. Defensively, UK has fielded .967, turning 45 double plays and allowing just 28-of-40 steals.
UK has been led at the plate by A.J. Reed, who leads the NCAA in homers (20), slugging (.786) and OPS (1.272). Reed has hit .358 with 12 doubles, one triple and 62 RBI, owning a .486 on-base percentage. First baseman Thomas Bernal has hit .336 with seven doubles, one homer and 25 RBI, stealing five bases. Leftfielder Ka’ai Tom has a .319 average with eight doubles, one homer and 26 RBI, stealing 12 bases. Centerfielder Austin Cousino owns a .317 average with 11 doubles, three triples, three homers and 28 RBI, stealing 15-of-15 bases. Third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .316 with 13 doubles, five homers and 39 RBI, leading the SEC with 36 walks. Rightfielder Storm Wilson has hit .315 with three doubles, four homers and 18 RBI, owning a .447 on-base percentage. Catcher Micheal Thomas has a .307 average with seven doubles, seven homers and 41 RBI. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has hit .265 with six doubles, two triples, four homers and 19 RBI. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .262 with five doubles, one homer and 18 RBI, stealing 10 bases. Shortstop Matt Reida has hit a career-best .246 with five doubles, three homers and 26 RBI, stealing five bags.
In relief, junior Spencer Jack (2-1, 1.57 ERA) has two saves in a team-high 21 games, working 28.2 innings, allowing 21 hits and six walks, striking out 24. Kyle Cody (3-0, 2.92 ERA) leads the team with five saves, with freshman Logan Salow (2-2, 4.84 ERA) saving one game in 18 outings. Sophomore Zach Strecker (0-1, 4.30 ERA) has appeared in 14 games, striking out 18 in 14.2 innings. Freshman Zack Brown (0-0, 6.08 ERA) has appeared in 14 games, with Ryne Combs (1-2, 6.59 ERA) also appearing in double-digit games.
Auburn (26-23, 9-15 SEC) is coming off a series sweep at the hands of Mississippi State at Plainsman Park. The Tigers have hit .272 as a team in 2014, owning a .341 slugging and a .363 on-base percentage. Auburn has 53 doubles, eight triples, 14 homers and 209 runs, stealing 73-of-108 bases. On the mound, AU has a 3.01 team ERA in 49 games, saving eight and working 439 innings, walking 133 and striking out 295. Defensively, Auburn has fielded .970, turning 46 double plays and allowing 30-of-49 steals.
The Tigers have been led at the plate by Jordan Ebert, who has a .363 average with four doubles, one triple and 26 RBI, stealing seven bases. Damek Tomscha has hit .336 with eight doubles, five homers and 26 RBI. Ryan Tella has a .325 average with five doubles, one triple, three homers and 15 RBI, stealing 13 bases. Catcher Blake Austin has hit .274 with nine doubles, three homers and 30 RBI. Daniel Robert has hit .263 with a homer and 10 RBI, with Damon Haecker hitting .241 with 17 RBI and 10 steals.
In relief, Auburn has been led by Jay Wade (4-2, 3.51 ERA), who has appeared in a 19 games with one save in 33.1 innings, walking only four. Trey Cochran-Gill (0-2, 3.99 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 24 games, working 29.1 innings, with Terrance Dedrick (1-2, 4.56 ERA) appearing in 20 games with four saves in 23.2 innings.
Auburn leads the all-time series, 73-40, including a 33-20 all-time record in games played in Lexington. Auburn swept the last meeting, a series in 2011 in Lexington. UK won the 2009 series in Lexington, with its last sweep over Auburn coming in 1992 on the road. UK has swept Auburn in a three-game series in Lexington only once, in 1968.
Weekend sponsor – UK Healthcare, trading card set 4 distributed all weekend long
Friday night – Heroes Night (show military or service ID for free admission for you and a guest while supplies last)
Saturday – Senior Day
Sunday – Mother’s Day (flowers for Moms while supplies last), Fan Appreciation Day
PREVIEWING AUBURN IN THE PRESEASON
Head coach: Sunny Golloway (First year)
2013 record/SEC finish: 33-23, 13-17 SEC/10th
Final RPI: No. 47
Final ranking: not ranked
Key returning position players: IF Jordan Ebert (.303/.359/.403, 4 HR, 22 RBI), IF Patrick Savage (.290/.357/.355, 19 RBI), C Blake Austin (.290/.332/.415, 3 HR, 23 RBI), IF Damek Tomscha (.274/.384/.452, 7 HR, 26 RBI), OF Ryan Tella (.259/.324/.361, 3 HR, 37 RBI, 14-16 SB), OF Hunter Kelley (.246/.341/.395, 2 HR, 9 RBI), SS Dan Glevenyak (.230/.347/.323, 2 HR, 21 RBI), OF Jackson Burgreen (.225/.323/.306, HR, 8 RBI)
Key returning pitchers: RHP Justin Camp (5-1, 2.44 ERA, 18 APP, 2 GS, 2 SV, 44.1 IP, 28 SO), LHP Michael O’Neal (8-4, 2.73 ERA, 14 GS, 89 IP, 36 SO), RHP Trey Cochran-Gill (1-1, 3.02 ERA, 20 APP, 3 GS, 2 SV, 41.2 IP, 23 SO), RHP Terrance Dedrick (4-2, 3.63 ERA, 23 APP, 10 SV, 39.2 IP, 35 SO), LHP Daniel Koger (0-3, 5.01 ERA, 14 APP, 8 GS, 46.2 IP, 20 SO), RHP Reid Carter (1-2, 2.78 ERA, 15 APP, 1 SV, 22.2 IP, 17 SO)
Key position player losses: 1B Garrett Cooper (.354/.481/.540, 7 HR, 37 RBI), OF Cullen Wacker (.320/.383/.420, 2 HR, 34 RBI)
Key pitcher losses: LHP Conner Kendrick (5-2, 2.13 ERA, 19 APP, 9 GS, 2 SV, 80.1 IP, 75 SO)
Series record: Auburn leads series 73-40, including 33-20 in Lexington
Last meeting: Auburn swept UK in Lexington in 2011
Kentucky – 28-19, 10-14 SEC
Auburn – 26-23, 9-15 SEC
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. Auburn * Friday, May 9 * 6:30 p.m.
vs. Auburn * Saturday, May 10 * 7 p.m. [FSS/CWKYT]
vs. Auburn * Sunday, May 11 * 1 p.m. [FSS/CWKYT]
Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
Friday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Saturday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Sunday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Auburn
Jr., LHP/1B A.J. Reed (8-2, 2.20 ERA) vs. Sr., RHP Dillon Ortman (8-3, 2.07 ERA)
Saturday vs. Auburn
Jr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (5-2, 3.55 ERA) vs. Fr., RHP Keegan Thompson (5-3, 1.91 ERA)
Sunday vs. Auburn
TBA vs. Sr., LHP Michael O’Neal (3-5, 3.66 ERA)
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is FREE.
UK will utilize three lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, the R-lot adjacent to the dorms and the first base line, 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.
SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors