LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After fanning 11 hitters in five innings and allowing only two hits, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has named Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Matt Little one of its three National Players of the Week, it was announced Monday.
Little, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., had a dynamic week as UK's lockdown reliever, totaling a save and a win in five innings of work and two relief appearances. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder came on in relief against Morehead State in the ninth inning and tossed a perfect ninth inning for his team-high third save of the season, striking out two MSU hitters. With UK trailing by six runs in the sixth inning of the win at Monmouth, Little came on in relief and kept UK in the ballgame for a dramatic comeback win, handcuffing the Hawks with four shutdown innings of relief, allowing only two hits, walking none and striking out a career-high nine. He struck out the first six hitters he faced and fanned seven of his first eight outs to give UK an emotional lift during its seven-run rally over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
On the year, Little has totaled a 0.82 ERA and a 1-0 record, appearing in five games with three saves. Little has totaled 11 innings, allowing four hits and only one run, walking just three and striking out 14. Opponents have hit a measly .121 off Little, which ranks second in the SEC among qualifying pitchers (1.0 IP per team game). Little also ranks second in the league in ERA, saves and games finished (five) and seventh in games in relief (five), first in hits allowed (four), first in runs allowed (one) and fifth in walks allowed (three). Also on the year, Little has not allowed an extra-base hit, tops in the league.
"Matt Little's performance out of the bullpen was outstanding," UK head coach Gary Henderson said following the game Saturday. "It gave us a chance to get back into the game. It gave our club a shot of adrenaline and it brought some energy to our dugout. To go four innings with only two hits, nine punch-outs and no walks is a pretty special performance."
Little is one of only four players honored by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and is the only pitcher. Mississippi State first baseman Connor Powers, Baylor infielder Raynor Campbell and Florida Atlantic shortstop Nick Delguidice were also honored.
KENTUCKY MOVES UP IN POLLS
After posting three wins on the week, including a road shutout of West Coast power San Diego on Friday, the Kentucky baseball team has moved up in the weekly polls, it was announced Monday.
The Wildcats have advanced to No. 22 in the weekly Baseball America top 25, up from No. 23 last week. Also, UK moved to No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper weekly poll, up from No. 25 last Monday, and advanced in the Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports top 25, up from No. 22 to No. 19. In addition, for the first time this season, Kentucky cracked the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, moving to No. 22.
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday and Wednesday, hosting Evansville at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Both games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
COACHES CLINIC SET FOR SATURDAY
The 2010 Kentucky Baseball Coaches Clinic is set for Saturday, March 13 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET, it was announced by head coach Gary Henderson.
Join Henderson and the rest of the UK coaching staff as they engage coaches in an interactive session geared towards helping youth coaches in preparation for their 2010 team.
Admission is free. Please RSVP to Nathan Schwake at (859) 257-5526 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include name, email address, age group, team name and league.
Each coach will also receive complimentary admission for themselves and a guest to Saturday's game with IPFW at 1 p.m. ET.