The wall will win: Dwyer learns through adversity

NOTE: The 13th of a 16-part series of individual feature stories, leading up for No. 25 Kentucky’s 2016 season opener at Wofford on Feb. 19. On Wednesday, learn about senior southpaw Dylan Dwyer.

Dustin Beggs | Storm Wilson | Zach Arnold  | Zach Logue | Marcus Carson | Zack Brown

Connor Heady | Dorian Hairston | Riley Mahan | JaVon Shelby  | Bo Wilson | Evan White

Dylan Dwyer was having a solid sophomore season.

The Kentucky left-handed pitcher had made several spot starts in Southeastern Conference play, posting wins over Missouri and at Texas A&M, in addition to a complete-game shutout of Cincinnati in midweek action.

“I would say Cincinnati, Texas A&M, and Missouri, were big for me,” Dwyer said. “My first (SEC) start, Missouri, I got the win and that was pretty awesome. I will also always remember (Austin) Cousino throwing the guy out at the plate to end the inning. I felt that changed the momentum and I remember how pumped up I was. ”

It was the regular-season finale at Georgia, with Kentucky competing to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, when Dwyer’s sophomore season ended.

He came off the mound after allowing a pair of earned runs in an inning vs. the Bulldogs and did what many a player has done over the years, punched a clubhouse wall. His hand was broken, ending his promising 2014 season before he could pitch in the postseason.

“It was immature. I let emotions get the best of me,” Dwyer reflected. “Now I give myself a little breather and think about the consequences of what I am about to do.”

With UK needing to take a full 27-man roster to the SEC Tournament immediately following the game, Dwyer and Kentucky’s legendary academic advisor, Michael Stone, hopped in a rental car and drove back to Lexington from Atlanta.

An infectious personality to all he encounters, Stone knew how Dwyer was feeling. He knew the lefty wanted to take back an emotional reaction.

“Michael Stone and I are extremely close,” Dwyer remembered. “The first hour there was not much said. He let me have my time to think and then talked a little. He of course has his jokes and they cheered me up. We were close before that and now we are very close. He took time out of his own life to help me out and it really means a lot to me.”

After rehabbing all summer, Dwyer returned to the mound as a key member of the UK relief corps as a junior. He appeared in 16 games, with a 2-0 record and a 3.03 ERA, fanning 26 in 29.2 innings.

Dwyer, a native of Murray, Ky., and a product of Calloway County High School, then appeared in 12 games in the highly competitive Northwoods League over the summer, striking out 37 in 59.1 innings.
Over his career, Dwyer has done it all for the UK pitching staff. He has appeared in 44 games with 10 starts, owning an 8-3 record and a 4.50 ERA over 102 innings. In addition to his starts, Dwyer has been used in long-relief, middle innings, to get a key lefty out, or to finish off a game in his career.

“It allows me to get in the game more, and it allows (Coach Henderson) to have someone that he can put in, in any situation,” Dwyer said. “I have been in a lot of different situations and will be ready for anything. We have guys that can be put in at any time, for any situation. The versatility and experience of this group is going to help a lot this season.”

Now a senior, Dwyer has formed a special bond with UK’s seven-man senior class, which features his close friend, Kyle Cody, who elected to return to UK for a final season in 2016, and is poised for a big year.

“I have been with Kyle since day one and so I have known him for four years now,” Dwyer said. “He has really changed his body this year. He has changed the way he has eaten and worked really hard in the weight room. You can really tell how he has grown on and off the field and it has been fun to watch.”

SEASON TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Fans can begin purchasing new season tickets and single-game tickets for the 2016 Kentucky baseball season.

For more information on UK baseball tickets, contact the Kentucky ticket office at (859) 257-1818 or visit UKathletics.com/tickets.

2016 Season Tickets:
$55 – Reserved Seating
$35 – General Admission