BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The baseball game between Kentucky and Western Kentucky University scheduled for April 20 at 7 p.m. ET, has been moved to the Bowling Green Ballpark in downtown Bowling Green, home of the minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, it was announced by WKU.
The game will be played at the Bowling Green Ballpark, the home field of the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the low Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-year old stadium opened before the 2009 minor league season and has a capacity of 4,569. First pitch will remain at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 20.
In the last meeting between the two teams in Bowling Green in 2008, the atmosphere was record breaking, as a WKU school-record 3,057 fans packed the 1,500 capacity stadium on the WKU campus, witnessing a drama-filled 2-1 UK win. The game was one of four road rivalry non-conference games for the Wildcats in 2008 where the host school set a new school-record for single-game attendance (at Cincinnati: 1,094; at Louisville: 3,652; at Murray State: 1,651).
“We are excited to get to compete against WKU twice this season, once in Lexington and also in Bowling Green at the new ballpark,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “This will give our players another opportunity to compete in an exciting atmosphere at a minor league facility. Our game with WKU in 2008 was a great setting for college baseball and we look forward to a similar atmosphere this spring. Since the 2006 season, college baseball in the state of Kentucky has grown in unprecedented fashion, and Coach Finwood and his staff have done a great job elevating the WKU program.”
Last year, WKU posted a win over the Wildcats in Lexington, with the meeting in Bowling Green cancelled due to weather concerns. Overall, UK owns a 30-21 all-time record against WKU, including a 12-9 mark in games played in Bowling Green. Despite the loss last year, UK has won three of the last four meetings between the two schools.
“It's going to be a phenomenal thing for college baseball in growing the interest in baseball in general,” WKU head coach Chris Finwood said. “With the Hot Rods here, we've seen the interest grow, with us being able to have success we've seen the interest grow. This game is another great step in that direction. Our vision is to have four-, five-, or 6,000 people here. It gives the fans a chance to have a first-class experience. We just got to the point where we outgrew our ballpark for this game against Kentucky for both our fans and their fans. It's great that we're going to be able to have it here.”
In the 2008 meeting, UK won an exciting pitching duel in front of the packed crowd. UK started then freshman lefty Mike Kaczmarek in the game and Kaczmarek lasted one inning with a walk and three hits allowed before then-senior Tommy Warner came on in relief for the Wildcats. Warner tossed five innings with one run allowed and five strikeouts, before turning the ball over for a perfect bullpen outing, with Brock Baber getting two outs without a hit allowed, Andrew Albers pitching two perfect innings with three strikeouts and Scott Green throwing one slider to get a strikeout, notch a save and close out the game. Offensively first-team All-American outfielder Collin Cowgill and first-team All-Southeastern Conference second baseman Ryan Wilkes each blasted solo home runs in the game with the Hilltoppers, lifting UK to the 2-1 win. Cowgill’s homer was a no-doubt jack that sailed over the batters eye, deep behind the center-field fence at Nick Denes Field.
Tickets for the April 20 game can only be purchased by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 270.745.5222 and are also available online at wkusports.com, starting Feb. 8.
Kentucky opens the 2010 season with the Caravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by No. 12 Coastal Carolina. UK will open with Virginia Tech Feb. 19 at noon ET, facing West Virginia Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. ET, before wrapping up the tournament with Coastal Carolina Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. ET. UK will open its home portion of the schedule against Murray State Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.