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Baseball Opens Homestand with Western Kentucky

Micheal Thomas leads the SEC in batting average.

Micheal Thomas leads the SEC in batting average.

March 17, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After opening Southeastern Conference play with a four-game road swing last week, Kentucky will kick off a five-game homestand with a midweek matchup with Western Kentucky, slated for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

Western Kentucky will turn to sophomore righty Josh Bartley to start against the Wildcats. Bartley has appeared in four games with two starts, owning a 2-1 record and a 5.02 ERA. Bartley has worked in 14.1 innings, allowing 13 hits - 11 singles - three walks and striking out nine. Last year, Bartley worked a combined 6.2 innings in relief, against UK over the two games, allowing just one earned run. UK has yet to determine a starting pitcher.

Kentucky (14-6, 1-2 SEC) will host Western Kentucky on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET and will then open its SEC home schedule by hosting No. 1 South Carolina in a three-game series, starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Last week, UK suffered a midweek loss at Indiana on Tuesday, as the preseason No. 3 ranked Hoosiers got three two-run innings in a 7-2 win, with UK getting the second homer of the year from third baseman Max Kuhn.

Kentucky then ventured to Alabama, ranked No. 21 in the preseason, with the Crimson Tide securing a 3-0 win to open the series, behind a game-changing defensive output, including a bases-loaded triple play, two double plays and the robbing of a would-be game-tying home run. The two teams then split a series-concluding twinbill, with UK getting a 7-2 win in the first game behind homers from Austin Cousino and Micheal Thomas. Chandler Shepherd worked into the eighth inning for his fourth win. In the finale, UK took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning behind a three-run homer from NCAA homer and RBI leader A.J. Reed. Alabama rallied in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out, two-run homer to tie the game and keep Andrew Nelson from a complete game in his first career SEC start. The Tide then got a two-out, two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th for the win to secure the series rubber match.

The Wildcats have hit .322 as a team, with 47 doubles, 194 runs, 18 homers and 39 steals in 20 games. On the mound, UK has a 2.78 ERA, with 56 walks and 132 strikeouts in 178 innings. Individually, Reed leads the nation with nine homers and 31 RBI, with a .406 average and a .548 on-base percentage. Thomas has led UK with a .418 average, owning five doubles, three homers and 23 RBI. Cousino has batted .409 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers, 13 RBI and eight steals. Kuhn has batted .349 with eight doubles, two homers and 18 RBI, entering the SEC opener leading the league in walks.

On the mound, Reed has a 3-1 record and a 1.91 ERA in five games, holding opponents to a .191 average in 33 innings. Junior Andrew Nelson (1-0, 1.99 ERA), has appeared in six games with three starts, with junior Chandler Shepherd (4-0, 2.41 ERA) working four consecutive quality starts. Sophomore southpaw Dylan Dwyer (1-1, 4.43 ERA) has made four midweek starts, including a complete-game shutout vs. Cincinnati. In relief, junior Spencer Jack (1-0, 0.68 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 10 games. Freshman lefty Logan Salow (1-1, 1.23 ERA) has appeared in six games with 7.1 innings and 11 strikeouts.

Kentucky enters the week as the SEC leader in average (.322), slugging (.475), on-base percentage (.431), runs (194), RBI (168), homers (18) and total bases (338). UK ranks second in hits (229), doubles (47) and steals (39). Reed ranks as the SEC leader in slugging (.855), on-base percentage (.548), RBI (31), homers (nine) and total bases (59), also ranking fourth in average (.406), third in runs (25), eighth in hits (28) and third in walks (17) and HBP (six). Cousino ranks second in the SEC in average (.409), fourth in slugging (.625), eighth in on-base percentage (.458), second in runs (27), first in hits (36), fourth in doubles (nine), fourth in triples (two), 13th in homers (two), second in total bases (53) and fifth in steals (eight). Thomas leads the SEC in average (.417), ranking second in slugging (.650), third in on-base percentage (.520), third in RBI (23) and fifth in homers (three). Kuhn leads the SEC in runs scored (29) and walks (18), ranking fifth in total bases (43) and doubles (eight).

The Wildcats will host South Carolina on Friday in its first SEC home series, with the Gamecocks earning a consensus No. 1 ranking last week. The Gamecocks opened the year winning its first 17 games, including a 10-inning walk-off on Friday in their SEC opener, before No. 12 Ole Miss evened the series with a win in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, with USC winning the rubber match. UK and South Carolina will open the series on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium, with the series resuming on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and concluding on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Western Kentucky (12-8) is coming off a series win at Georgia State over the weekend, also suffering a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Georgia in Athens, Ga. The Hilltoppers have hit .280 as a team in 20 games of 2014, with 34 doubles, five triples, 10 homers and 84 RBI, stealing 14 bases, with a .349 on-base percentage. On the mound, WKU has a 4.26 ERA in 177.2 innings, walking 100 and striking out 142. Defensively, WKU has a .961 fielding percentage, turning 21 double plays and allowing just 12 steals in 27 attempts.

Individually, Ryan Messex leads the team with a .356 average, with Philip Diedrick batting .340 with four doubles, one triple and five RBI. Ryan Church has hit .293 with four homers and 13 RBI, with Scott Wilcox batting .289 with five doubles, two homers and 11 RBI. Anderson Miller has batted .288 with three doubles, with Trevor Lowe batting .286 with a homer and nine RBI. Cody Wofford has hit .282 with three homers and nine RBI, with Regan Flaherty batting .264.

In relief for WKU, the Toppers have been led by Ian Tompkins, who has appeared in nine games with seven saves, striking out 19 in 10 innings. Jackson Sowell (1-1, 0.00 ERA) and Brenan Pearson (0-0, 0.00 ZERA) have each appeared in seven games in relief, with Sam Higgs (3-2, 5.93 ERA) and Brandon Allen (1-3, 6.75 ERA) each making eight appearances.

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Western Kentucky, 31-25, including an 18-13 mark in games played in Lexington. WKU won both meetings in 2013, including a 3-2 walk-off win in 18 innings in the game played in Bowling Green.

Records
Kentucky - 14-6
Western Kentucky - 12-8

Rankings
Kentucky - No. 23 (Perfect Game), not ranked (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball)
Western Kentucky - not ranked

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. Western Kentucky * March 18 * 6:30 p.m.

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
WLAP 630-AM in Lexington

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday vs. Western Kentucky
TBA vs. So., RHP Josh Bartley (2-1, 5.02 ERA)

Internet Coverage
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Stadium
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Parking
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is FREE.

UK will utilize three lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, the R lot, adjacent to the first base side, and the Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way.

Fans who park in the PS7 lot will be given a parking value card to exit the structure free of charge. Value cards should be picked up at the baseball ticket booth prior to the fifth inning.

Tickets
SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors

SEASON TICKET PRICES
$35 General Admission
$55 Reserved Seating


 

 

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