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Darnell Twirls Complete-Game Shutout Gem in Win at San Diego

Logan Darnell threw just 90 pitches in a complete-game shutout of San Diego.

Logan Darnell threw just 90 pitches in a complete-game shutout of San Diego.

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SAN DIEGO -- Junior southpaw Logan Darnell tossed a complete-game shutout and the Kentucky defense turned four double plays, as the 23rd-ranked Wildcats posted a 6-0 win at San Diego, Friday afternoon at Cunningham Stadium.

A 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, Darnell (2-0) needed just 90 pitches in his third career start to irritate the Toreros, handcuffing San Diego - a team ranked No. 19 in the Baseball America preseason poll - to just seven hits and only facing five hitters over the minimum. The Joelton, Tenn., native allowed just one walk and fanned three USD hitters, tossing first-pitch strikes to 22-of-32 hitters faced and throwing a total of 70 strikes in his efficient 90 pitches.

"Well, he was tremendous," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "When you throw 70 strikes in 90 pitches that is getting it done at a high level. No question about that. Not only did he throw a whole lot of strikes, but he did it with three pitches. It is pretty rare that you see a complete-game, 90-pitch effort in college baseball. I have to say if he doesn't win some national and conference awards for this performance, something is seriously wrong."

The performance set a new career-high in innings pitched for Darnell, who set career highs in his first two starts of the year with six innings pitched. Entering the 2010 season, Darnell has appeared in 43 games out of the bullpen, and three starts into the season he has totaled a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings, striking out 17.  

"It was a good day today," Darnell said. "We had a great defense out there. It really gave us the momentum the whole game. They would get a base runner on and then the next pitch would be a groundball double play. Seemed like that happened three or four times. I really think it helped our bats too with the momentum coming in each inning."

"Oh man, he was great today," UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer said. "He was working both sides of the plate. He had his curveball anytime he wanted too, he had his changeup and he made the hitters uncomfortable in the box. He was confident and he just came right at them. It was really fun to catch."

Defensively, Kentucky (8-1) played excellent behind Darnell, turning a season-high four ground-ball double plays in the contest, with three coming to end an inning.

"It has been a long time since I have been involved in four double plays," Henderson said. "It has been nine years, since I have been involved in four double plays. That was obviously an outstanding effort by our infield, all of them, all four of them did a great job today. Obviously, Logan did a great job of getting the ball to the bottom of the strike zone and doing a good job of getting us in situations where we had base runners. It was just an outstanding overall performance today."

"I kept it down, I had good movement today, they really just gave me the ground balls that we needed and our defense was just awesome," Darnell said. "(Andy) Burns at third made a really good double play ball backhanded and the play with (Chris) Bisson. Even (Taylor) Black at shortstop, he made two really good double plays that helped us get through the innings."

Darnell outpitched San Diego (4-6) ace southpaw Sammy Solis in the contest, with Solis (2-1) suffering the loss, his first of the season. Solis, a 6-foot-4, 228-pounder, entered the game owning a 0.82 ERA. Solis lasted 4.1 innings, allowing six hits and five runs, walking one and striking out five.

UK did most of its damage in the third inning, plating five runs, all coming with two outs. Offensively, senior Gunner Glad led the way for the Wildcats, totaling a 4-for-5 game at the plate, setting a new career high for hits in a game. Senior Keenan Wiley added a 2-for-5 game, while Nidiffer, Chris Bisson, Andy Burns and Braden Kapteyn each contributed a hit.  

The complete-game shutout for UK was the first since James Paxton tossed a complete-game shutout against Ole Miss in Lexington, Ky., in 2008, coming on the final weekend of the regular season.

Kentucky will return to action Saturday, facing Monmouth at USD at 2 p.m. ET. The game can be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

The Wildcats took a 5-0 lead in the top of the third, doing all of their damage with two outs. Neiko Johnson got hit by a one-out pitch and swiped second base for his fourth steal of the year. Bisson followed and lofted a single into centerfield. After Burns laced a line drive right at the USD shortstop for the second out, Nidiffer drilled an opposite-field double deep into the gap in right-centerfield, scoring Johnson and Bisson. With Nidiffer at second base, Wiley turned on a pitch and pulled an RBI single through the right side, scoring Nidiffer and allowing Wiley to scamper to scoring position on the throw. Glad followed and got his second hit of the game, a single ripped through the left side with the speedy Wiley hustling from second base and just sliding under the tag at home plate. After Black got plunked by a pitch, Chad Wright hit a grounder at the USD shortstop, who bobbled the ball and allowed Glad to score, with Wright just beating the throw to first base.

UK added another run in the top of the ninth, as Burns led off with a hard-hit single into rightfield, advancing to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Nidiffer. Glad continued his hot hitting, ripping an RBI single through the left side, scoring Burns, who slide under the tag at the plate.

UK Head Coach Gary Henderson Postgame Quotes

On the pitching performance from Logan Darnell ...
"Logan Darnell had an outstanding game for us today. He showed up in a big way. He got better as the game went along. He kind of gave us the boost that we needed after yesterdays overall performance. What we needed was someone to show up, take control of the situation and he did that today."

On the UK defense turning four double plays ...
"It has been a long time since I have been involved in four double plays. It has been nine years, since I have been involved in four double plays. That was obviously an outstanding effort by our infield, all of them, all four of them did a great job today. Obviously, Logan did a great job of getting the ball to the bottom of the strike zone and doing a good job of getting us in situations where we had base runners. It was just an outstanding overall performance today."

On the efficiency of Darnell on the mound ...

"Well, he was tremendous. When you throw 70 strikes in 90 pitches, that is getting it done at a high level. No question about that. Not only did he throw a whole lot of strikes, but he did it with three pitches. It is pretty rare that you see a complete-game, 90-pitch effort in college baseball. I have to say if he doesn't win some national and conference awards for this performance, something is seriously wrong."

UK Junior Pitcher Logan Darnell Postgame Quotes

On his pitching performance ...
"It was a good day today. We had a great defense out there. It really gave us the momentum the whole game. They would get a base runner on and then the next pitch would be a groundball double play. Seemed like that happened three or four times. I really think it helped our bats too with the momentum coming in each inning."

On when he felt like he knew he had lockdown stuff ...
"Around the third or fourth inning, there was a play where Bisson kind of got tackled, middle linebacker style while trying to turn a double play. It really gave me an edge from then on out. Bisson got pumped up, I got pumped up and really the whole team just kind of rallied around that and the next pitch was a double play. Really from then on, I felt like we were rolling."

On using just 90 pitches in his complete-game performance ...
"The whole thing coach Henderson says is first-pitch strikes. I feel like I did a good job with that today. After the first pitch, I kept it down, I had good movement today, they really just gave me the ground balls that we needed and our defense was just awesome. Burns at third made a really good double play ball backhanded and the play with Bisson. Even Black at shortstop, he made two really good double plays that helped us get through the innings."

On getting the five-run lead early ...
"It is always a big boost when your hitters go out there and give you a big lead. It helps everybody relax and you go out and have a five-run lead. You just got out and let them hit it and they kept hitting it into the ground and it really just helped the team keep moving."

UK Senior Catcher Marcus Nidiffer Postgame Quotes

On catching Logan Darnell today ...
"Oh man, he was great today. He was working both sides of the plate. He had his curveball anytime he wanted too, he had his changeup and he made the hitters uncomfortable in the box. He was confident and he just came right at them. It was really fun to catch."

On if this is the best he has seen Darnell pitch in his three years ...
"It is actually. I have seen him throw those kinds of bullpens and it absolutely showed up in a game today, which is good for us. I think we will have some more starts like that out of Logan. We are all looking forward to that."

On if the performance from Darnell is the best outing he remembers in his five years at UK ...
"That is up there. Just hitting against Logan during the fall, it is really hard to pick up his ball. When he can do that kind of stuff, where he wants to put it, when he wants to put it, it makes it really tough to hit. If he can keep doing that, we are going to be in really good shape."


On his two-RBI double into the right-centerfield gap early in the game ...
"That helped me out a lot. I had kind of been fighting it a little bit in the box. I haven't felt as comfortable as usual in the box but I finally got a fastball up that I could drive and I hit it right there and it got us rolling for the runs and made me feel good."

 


 

 

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