Baseball Hosts Defending NCAA Champion, No. 20 LSU
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A weekend removed from a series victory over No. 4 South Carolina, the Kentucky baseball team returns to action, hosting the defending NCAA champion LSU Tigers in a pivotal three-game series, with first pitch of game one Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
All games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM, in addition to complete coverage on UKathletics.com. Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports South, with Dave Neal (play-by-play) and Larry Conley (color) calling the action. Fans in Lexington can see the game live on Insight-Lexington channel 52.
Kentucky (26-23, 9-15 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a tough two-game midweek stretch, losing a 18-17 game Tuesday in 10 innings at Indiana, where the Wildcats blew an eight-run lead over the final two innings, and a 10-8 loss to Lipscomb on Wednesday night. Last weekend, UK lost 13-9 in the series opener Friday, but won game two 2-1 and posted a series-clinching win over South Carolina Sunday, 9-3, handing the league-leading Gamecocks their first series loss of 2010 and their first in 10 SEC weekends.
UK will turn to the same weekend rotation it used to secure the series win over South Carolina last weekend. UK will start freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers (4-7, 5.59 ERA) on Friday, facing off with LSU All-American right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (2-2, 8.26 ERA). Saturday, UK will turn to freshman Jordan Cooper (3-4, 5.11 ERA), with LSU yet to announce a starting pitcher. Sunday, the Wildcats will turn to sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer (5-2, 6.23 ERA) for the starting assignment, facing LSU right-hander Austin Ross (3-4, 3.43 ERA).
The game will mark yet another ranked opponent for the Wildcats in 2010, as UK is slated to face a total of 30 ranked opponents in its 56-game regular-season schedule. UK owns wins over nine ranked opponents (ranked at the time of the contest) and a total of 11 wins over teams currently ranked. UK entered the week with at No. 22 in the NCAA RPI but after dropping two games in the midweek, the Wildcats have dropped to No. 29 in the projections released Thursday on BoydsWorld.com. In addition to the wins over ranked teams, UK has suffered four walk-off losses to ranked opponents on the road in the SEC, losing a total of six walk-off losses on the road in 2010.
Friday, Rogers will get the call, making his team-best 13th start of the season and his second consecutive Friday-night start. A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has pitched in a team-best 75.2 innings, walking just 11 and striking out 35. In his last start, Rogers went 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and eight runs – only three earned – not issuing a walk and striking out two. Rogers was victimized by a UK defense that committed five errors in the game. Ranaudo will make his ninth start of the season, tossing 28.1 innings, walking 16 and striking out 27. A hero of LSU’s College World Series run in 2009, Ranaudo entered the season rated as the top pitcher in college baseball, a candidate for a top-five overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Ranuado has been limited by injury in 2010, missing four starts and playing with inning limitations. In his last start against Vandy, Ranaudo tossed 2.2 innings, allowing five hits and six runs, walking four and striking out one.
A native of Shelbyville, Tenn., Cooper will make his fourth career SEC start Saturday against the Tigers. In 18 games and six starts this season, Cooper has tossed 49.1 innings, allowing 24 walks and striking out 30. In his last start, Cooper turned in the best outing of his career, earning SEC Freshman of the Week accolades, picking up the win over South Carolina on Saturday. Cooper tossed a career-long 6.2 innings, allowing four hits, striking out a career-high five and allowing only one run in a UK 2-1 win. Cooper outdueled South Carolina standout Sam Dyson in the game, allowing only a solo home run in the contest.
A 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, Meyer has made 10 appearances and started nine games, hurling 47.2 innings, allowing 50 hits and 28 walks, striking out a team-high 58. Meyer missed three weeks in conference play with mononucleosis, before returning to pitch a gem Sunday against South Carolina, picking up the win in the series rubber match. In his first inning in three weeks Sunday, Meyer got the first two hitters out to start the top of the first inning, before a fielding error on a routine ground ball allowed three unearned runs to score, with the final run scoring on a passed ball. Meyer then settled down and shutdown the Gamecocks over the next six innings, finishing the game with seven innings pitched, allowing four hits and three unearned runs, walking three and striking out six. In his last start against LSU, Meyer tossed five innings in his first career SEC start in Baton Rouge. In that outing, Meyer allowed two hits, walking five and striking out six, allowing three runs, getting outdueled by LSU All-American Louis Coleman, who went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, striking out seven.
LSU leads the all-time series, 39-20-1, including a 16-10 mark in games played in Lexington. LSU has won two consecutive series between the two teams, posting a series win in 2009 and 2008 in Lexington. UK’s last series win over the Tigers came in 2007, when UK won the first two games of the series on Friday and Saturday and the two teams tied in the finale due to SEC travel policy.
Last time out against LSU the Tigers picked up the series win over the Wildcats in the first conference games ever played at the new Alex Box Stadium, opened in 2009. In the SEC opener for both teams Friday night, James Paxton and Ranaudo combined to strikeout 27 hitters in their 12 combined innings, putting on a pitching showcase in front of a packed house. Paxton struck out a career-high 14 in six innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking three. UK used Clint Tilford in relief, who took the loss after allowing four hits and two runs in his two inning of work. Ranaudo tossed six innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking three and striking out 13. Coleman picked up the win after going the final 2.2 innings, allowing only one hit. Keenan Wiley, Braden Kapteyn and Marcus Nidiffer led UK with two hits each, with Chris Bisson and Andy Burns adding hits. LSU was led in game one by Tyler Hanover, who hit an opposite-field, two-run homer off Paxton, part of a 2-for-4, three-RBI game at third base. In game two in 2009, after the Saturday game was rained out, forcing the Sunday games to be played as two seven-inning contests. UK evened the series with a 5-3 win over the Tigers in the first game of the doubleheader Saturday. UK senior Chris Rusin twirled a gem, going the complete seven innings, allowing only six hits and two runs, walking three and striking out six. Nidiffer led UK, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a home run, giving UK the lead with a monster jack off the giant video board in leftfield. Ross took the loss for LSU, allowing eight hits and four runs in six innings, striking out seven Wildcats. In the series finale, LSU rode Coleman to a series win, besting UK 3-1. Meyer tossed five strong innings for UK, allowing only two hits, walking five and striking out six. Coleman was brilliant, tossing the complete seven innings, allowing only four hits and one run, striking out seven. Spencer Korus led UK with two hits and an RBI, gathering two of UK’s four total hits.
LSU (35-14, 12-12 SEC) has lost nine of its last 11 games, falling in series sweeps on the road at the hands of No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 6 Florida. Last weekend, LSU lost the series to No. 18 Vanderbilt in Baton Rouge, winning the series opener, 16-15 in 10 innings, with Vandy responding with wins in game two and three. Entering the series with Ole Miss, LSU owned a 32-6 record, only losing games to No. 13 Arkansas, Kansas, Georgia and at Auburn.
Individually, All-American catcher Micah Gibbs has led LSU with a .424 average (78-for-184) with 12 doubles, three triples, six homers and 48 RBI. Rightfielder Mikie Mahtook has batted .344 (63-for-183) with 18 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 40 RBI, stealing 22-of-29 bases. Centerfielder Leon Landry has hit .342 (67-for-207) with nine doubles, six triples, four homers and 40 RBI, stealing 15-of-17 bases. All-American Blake Dean has hit .324 (67-for-207) with 15 doubles, nine homers and a team-best 59 RBI, while Hanover has batted .321 (61-for-190) with 12 doubles, one homer and 26 RBI. Shortstop Austin Nolas has totaled a .315 average (63-for-200) with 11 doubles, four homers and 39 RBI. Slugger Matt Gaudet leads the team with 14 homers, adding a .286 average (50-for-175) with 52 RBI.
In the bullpen for the Tigers All-American closer Matty Ott (2-3, 4.78 ERA) leads the team with 23 relief appearances and 11 saves. Ott has tossed 37.2 innings, allowing only 30 hits and 17 walks, striking out 35. Paul Bertuccini (1-0, 2.21 ERA) has appeared in 23 games out of the pen, tossing 20.1 innings and allowing only 14 hits, seven walks and striking out 21. Daniel Bradshaw (5-0, 4.79 ERA) has appeared in 18 games and tossed 35.2 innings, striking out 23.
UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, with the team’s .300 average ranking ninth in the SEC, with UK ranking second in homers (74), first in hit by pitches (100) and first in stolen bases (108). Defensively, UK leads the SEC in chances (1955) and assists (590), ranking fifth in double plays (46). Individually, Bisson leads the SEC in stolen bases (28), with Neiko Johnson ranking third with 23 stolen bases. Rogers ranks fourth in the SEC in innings pitched (75.2), the only freshman hurler to rank in the top 12 in the SEC. Matt Little ranks fourth in the league with seven saves and 18 games finished. Defensively, Black leads the SEC with 161 assists, with Glad ranking fourth in chances (417), seventh in putouts (360) and fourth in double plays (38).
The Wildcats have been led offensively by junior Lance Ray, who leads the team with a .370 average (34-for-92) with 11 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 26 RBI, drawing 17 walks and striking out just 13 times in his 22 games started after recovering from offseason wrist surgery early in the year. Glad has batted .353 (66-for-187) with 10 doubles, one triple, 11 homers and 41 RBI, drawing 23 walks. Bisson has batted .339 (60-for-177) with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 31 RBI, leading the team with 27 walks and stealing an SEC-leading 28 bases. Chad Wright has batted .323 (64-for-198) with 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 35 RBI, stealing 11-of-14 bags. Wiley has batted .322 (59-for-183) with six doubles, four homers and 33 RBI, stealing 13-of-18 bases, while Nidiffer has gotten hot in his last six games, batting .317 (39-for-123) with five doubles, nine homers and 28 RBI. Kapteyn has hit .284 (40-for-141) with eight doubles, six homers and 28 RBI, while shortstop Taylor Black has added a .275 (42-for-153) average with five doubles, nine homers and 30 RBI, stealing 11-of-11 bases. Cory Farris has launched seven homers and added 24 RBI, complementing a .259 (28-for-108) average, while Andy Burns is tied with Glad for the team lead with 11 homers, with Burns hitting .257 (43-for-167) with nine doubles, two triples, 28 RBI and six stolen bases. Johnson has hit .167 (12-for-72) with two doubles, one homer and six RBI, stealing 23-of-24 bases.
Kentucky – 26-23, 9-15 SEC
• Last time out: lost to Lipscomb, 8-10
LSU – 34-15, 12-12 SEC
• Last time out: lost to No. 18 Vanderbilt, 3-4
• Gary Henderson (San Diego State, 1984)
• 54-48 (.529) - 2nd year
• Paul Mainieri (FIU, 1980)
• 1032-568-6 (.644) - 28th year
• Not ranked
• No. 20 (NCBWA)
• No. 20 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll)
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Friday, May 14 * vs. No. 20 LSU * 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 15 * vs. No. 20 LSU * 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 16 * vs. No. 20 LSU * 1:00 p.m.
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
• WLAP 630-AM in Lexington
• WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
• WLAP 630-AM in Lexington
• WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
• WLAP 630-AM in Lexington
• WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Television (FSS with Larry Conley and Dave Neal)
• Insight-Lexington channel 52
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com.
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. LSU
LHP Taylor Rogers (4-7, 5.59 ERA) vs. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-2, 8.26 ERA)
Saturday vs. LSU
RHP Jordan Cooper (3-4, 5.11 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday vs. LSU
RHP Alex Meyer (5-2, 6.23 ERA) vs. RHP Austin Ross (3-4, 5.43 ERA)
Check in at the promotions gazebo and register yourself to be an Official Cliff Dweller. Fans that attend any four SEC home games will receive a white Cliff Dweller t-shirt, while eight SEC games will get you a blue Cliff Dweller t-shirt and 12 SEC games will get you a black Cliff Dweller t-shirt. UK marketing will keep track of the attendance and as you hit each mark we’ll give you your t-shirt.
Each individual fan will have their own entry so be sure to make it to as many SEC games this season as possible to get the best rewards.
Check in at the promotions gazebo starting on Friday and at every SEC game you attend to take part.
Kentucky Department of Highway Safety
Fireworks: following UK home runs
Senior day: UK honors seniors Gunner Glad, Marcus Nidiffer and Keenan Wiley
Junior Wildcat Club Day
Baseball Ice Cream Sundaes: in collectable UK mini batting helmet
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 or on the south side of the Nutter Training Facility, and the brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. All three 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.