Baseball Hosts Morehead in Home Finale
May 11, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off a series win over Auburn during the weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats host Morehead State in the final home game of the 2009 season, with Tuesday’s first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium slated for 7 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (26-24, 11-16 Southeastern Conference) sits 1.5 games out of the SEC Tournament, just behind eighth-place Vanderbilt. The Wildcats travel to Florida for its final three-game series of the season, and entering the final weekend UK remains a game and a half back of the Commodores (12-14 SEC). UK has to win at least two games at Florida to get in and even with at least two wins, Vandy would have to drop all three against Tennessee. If Vanderbilt wins one of the games vs. the Volunteers, UK would have to sweep SEC East Division leader Florida in Gainesville, Fla. The SEC takes the top eight teams – based on winning percentage – to the tournament in Hoover, Ala., held May 20-24 at Regions Park.
UK has won three of its last four games and four of its last six, including back-to-back series wins in de-facto elimination series, winning two of three from both Tennessee and Auburn on consecutive weekends. The Wildcats got a doubleheader sweep of Auburn Saturday to clinch its first series win in Lexington over Auburn since the 1989 season. Sunday, Auburn jumped out to an early lead as the UK pitching staff walked 11, holding off a late UK rally for a 7-5 series-salvaging win. Two weekends ago, UK hosted Tennessee and won two of three games, claiming a slugfest win in the rubber match, 17-11.
The Wildcats will send junior right-hander Clint Tilford (1-4, 6.39 ERA) to the mound Tuesday to make his eighth start of the year. Tilford, a West Paducah, Ky., native, has hurled 49.1 innings, allowing 66 hits and 41 runs, walking 20 and striking out 33. Sunday, Tilford was summoned to get the last two outs in the ninth, retiring both Tigers and getting one strikeout. In non-conference games this season, Tilford has totaled a 1-1 record and a 3.37 ERA, logging 34.1 innings, allowing only 10 walks while striking out 26. In his three-year career, Tilford has hurled 109.1 innings, striking out 75 and issuing 54 walks, earning a 5-4 record and a 5.52 ERA.
Morehead State (16-29, 9-10 Ohio Valley Conference) will be playing its second game at Cliff Hagan Stadium this season, as Western Michigan and Morehead State played a game in Lexington in early March. UK leads the all-time series with Morehead State, 40-25, including a 27-13 mark in Lexington. UK has won two of the last three games, with Morehead State posting wins in 2005 and 2007. UK won in 2008, a 6-5 win in Lexington on April 16.
Last year, UK scored a 6-5 win over Morehead State in the lone meeting on April 16. UK got homers from first-team All-American outfielders Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill and a pitching effort from seven different Wildcats. Lefty Mike Kaczmarek got the start for UK in 2008, going three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Andrew Albers picked up the win and Scott Green notched his first save of the year. Carroll led all hitters with a 3-for-4 game, scoring two runs and driving in one. Cowgill finished 2-for-5, with Ryan Wilkes and Marcus Nidiffer each charting two-hit games. In the 2007 meeting, Morehead State sprang a 9-6 upset at Cliff Hagan Stadium, getting three runs in the top of the seventh inning, after an extensive rain delay, and holding on for the win in a game that ended just before midnight ET.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by sophomore second baseman Chris Bisson, who leads UK in average (.367), runs (44), hits (76), doubles (9), triples (3) and RBI (51), stealing 13-of-15 bases. Veterans Marcus Nidiffer (.299, 5 2B, 7 HR, 27 RBI), Chris Wade (.299, 9 2B, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 14-16 SB) and Keenan Wiley (.257, 3 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 11-12 SB) have helped round out a lineup that relies heavily on freshmen and first or second-year starters. Freshmen Chad Wright (.321, 6 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 9-11 SB), Braden Kapteyn (.301, 8 2B, 3 HR, 21 RBI), Andy Burns (.296, 8 2B, 3B, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 3-3 SB) and Cory Farris (.271, 2B, 9 RBI, 2-2 SB) have had an immediate impact in their first collegiate seasons.
On the mound, UK’s weekend rotation has been a strength, headlined by Chris Rusin (6-4, 3.96 ERA), Alex Meyer (1-4, 5.27 ERA) and junior James Paxton (5-2, 5.30 ERA). In the bullpen, Kapteyn has notched a club-best four saves, earning a 4-0 record and a 6.23 ERA, striking out 39 in 30.1 innings. Southpaw Logan Darnell (5-5, 4.40 ERA) has appeared in a staff-best 26 games, totaling two saves in 43 innings, striking out 43. UK’s bullpen has totaled a 12-12 record and a 6.04 ERA this season, allowing 47 of 102 inherited runners to score.
Morehead State has been paced by a .328 team batting average, highlighted by All-American candidate Drew Lee at shortstop. Lee leads the team with a .436 average, adding 16 doubles, two triples, 17 homers and 59 RBI, slugging .829 and reaching base at a .502 clip. Andrew Deeds (.384, 7 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 14-17 SB), J.D. Ashbrook (.371, 14 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 29 RBI, 9-13 SB), Michael Bottoms (.359, 13 2B, 7 HR, 54 RBI), Eric Bainer (.319, 2 2B, 9 RBI, 2-3 SB), Taylor Davis (.315, 11 2B, 11 HR, 36 RBI), Luke Bainer (.311, 5 2B, 7 HR, 19 RBI), Michael Fear (.291, 4 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI) and Travis Redmon (.256, 8 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI) have all appeared in 30 or more games. On the mound, the Eagles have totaled a 8.26 team ERA, with Bottoms (1-5, 4.71 ERA), Tyler Hieneman (1-0, 5.96 ERA), Michael Fahs (1-1, 7.80 ERA), Trey Smith (1-5, 10.04 ERA) and Matthew Nichols (0-1, 15.63) appearing in at least 10 games out of the bullpen.
Kentucky – 26-24, 11-16 SEC
Morehead State – 16-29, 9-10 OVC
Kentucky – not ranked
Morehead State – not ranked
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday vs. Morehead State
Jr., RHP Clint Tilford (1-4, 6.39 ERA) vs. TBA
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) – Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, May 11 * 7 p.m.
Live Television (BBSN with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond)
Tuesday: BBSN (Insight-Lexington channel 52; channel 5)
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Tuesday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
Buy any single game ticket and get another single game admission free.
Ceremonial First Pitch
UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is free.
UK will utilize three lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, the R-Lot along the first base line and the brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way.
SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors