Baseball Returns to Action Against Toledo
LEXINGTON – The Kentucky baseball team returns to action on Friday at 3 p.m. when it hosts Toledo in the first game of a three-game series.
Friday’s contest was originally slated to start at 4 p.m., but was moved up to accommodate projected weather conditions. The series continues on Saturday and Sunday with 1 p.m. start times. Fans in attendance on Friday and Saturday will receive free UK Baseball schedule magnets.
Kentucky (6-1) has been off since wrapping up a three-game sweep of Buffalo on Sunday which ran the teams win streak to five. The Wildcats will be looking to extend their best start to a season since 2000.
“We’ve been doing a lot of things well,” said Kentucky coach John Cohen. “We’re still a very young team and are trying to find our way a little bit. The more games we’re able to play, the more it’s going to help us down the road.”
Toledo (1-2) opened the year a week ago by dropping its first two games to Louisville before taking the series finale.
For the third straight weekend, Kentucky is expected to send a true freshman to the mound on both Friday and Saturday. Andrew Albers, who has two quality starts in as many appearances, gets the nod on Friday while Louisville native Scott Green goes Saturday. Junior Kalen Gibson of Slaughters, Ky., takes the hill Sunday.
Kentucky’s starters have combined for a 3-0 record this year with a 2.35 earned-run average.
“Our pitching staff has been tremendous so far keeping us in games,” Cohen said. “We still have a lot of new players in our bullpen that we need to get out there more and this weekend will give us a chance to see what they can do a little bit more.”
Offensively, the Wildcats are starting to find their groove. The team has scored 10 or more runs in four of its past five games. However, Kentucky is averaging nearly 12 runners left on base in that span.
Brian Hastings leads a group of seven players with a .340 average or better, with his .500 average and five-game hit streak. Also on a tear has been junior Justin Scutchfield, who has a team-high five extra-base hits in just 11 at bats. Last time out, he homered and doubled in Kentucky’s 11-9 win over the Bulls.
“We have a number of players who are seeing the ball well right now,” Cohen said. “There are some times where I think we’re trying to do too much with people on base. But I think as the season wears on and we get more comfortable, we’ll settle down.”
The weekend series is the last series for the Wildcats at Cliff Hagan Stadium until April. Kentucky hosts SEC foe Georgia from March 25-27, but that series will be played at Applebee’s Park.