Live blog from Cliff Hagan Stadium
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off an impressive win Sunday over No. 19 Ole Miss, the 24th-ranked Kentucky baseball team returns to action for its lone midweek contest before traveling to No. 20 Vanderbilt on Friday, hosting Xavier on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (15-5, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) will host the Musketeers, the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champions and 2009 participant in the NCAA Houston Regional. UK has not faced Xavier since 2008, when the Wildcats posted a pair of wins, including a 10-1 win in the season opener in Mobile, Ala., and a 5-2 win in Lexington.
The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), 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.
The Wildcats are coming off a five-game week which saw UK drop its first SEC series of the year at the hands of Ole Miss. UK fell in the opener behind the electric arm of Rebel ace Drew Pomeranz, 9-0 and narrowly lost Saturday, 7-6 as a late-inning comeback fell just short. Sunday, UK responded with 12 runs and a two-homer, six-RBI outing from two-way star Braden Kapteyn and a 10-strikeout outing from sophomore Alex Meyer.
Xavier (4-14, 0-0 Atlantic 10) has had a very tough schedule in the early portion of the season, playing 10 straight road games to open the season, facing road-three-game series at Tennessee, No. 3 Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Missouri. The Musketeers have also played midweek games at N.C. State and No. 7 Louisville. The highlight of the year has been a win at Georgia Tech on Feb. 28 and a win at Missouri on March 14. Most recently, XU has picked up a series win over Oakland, winning game one and game three in the three-game set.
The Musketeers have hit for a .239 team average and totaled a 7.24 team ERA on the mound. XU has been led offensively by Phil Bauer, who leads the team with a .317 (20-for-63) average, with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBI, stealing 5-of-5 bases. John McCambridge has hit .275 (19-for-69) with six RBI and a club-best 11 steals, while Bobby Freking has added a .270 (20-for-74) average with three doubles, two homers and a team-high 12 RBI.
XU will send junior right-hander Brian Muransky (0-4, 10.66 ERA) to the mound Tuesday for his first start of the season. In six relief appearances, Muransky has tossed 12.2 innings, allowing 15 hits and 16 runs, walking 11 and striking out 11. UK has yet to determine a starting pitcher.
Offensively, UK has been led by junior preseason All-American second baseman Chris Bisson, who returned last week after missing five games due to injury. Bisson leads the team with a .370 (20-for-54) average, totaling two homers and 14 RBI. Senior centerfielder Keenan Wiley has hit .357 (25-for-70) with a team-high equaling 17 RBI, with Cory Farris leading the team with five homers – all coming in the last 10 games – adding 14 RBI and a .341 (14-for-41) average. Senior Gunner Glad has hit .338 (24-for-71) with two homers and 15 RBI, while Chad Wright has added a .338 (27-for-80) average with 18 RBI and five steals. Sophomore Andy Burns has hit four homers to complement his four homers and club-best 11 walks. Kapteyn, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound slugger has hit three homers, adding a club-high six doubles.
On the mound, UK has used the weekend rotation of junior lefty Logan Darnell (3-1, 3.09 ERA) on Friday’s, freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers (3-1, 4.75 ERA) on Saturday’s and Meyer (4-2, 6.51 ERA) on Sunday’s. In the bullpen, junior right-hander Matt Little has emerged as one of the top relievers in the college game, totaling four saves in eight appearances, charting a 1-0 record and a 0.51 ERA. Little has tossed 17.2 innings, allowing only six hits and five walks, striking out 25 and holding opponents to a .111 average. Kapteyn also owns a save and a win in his five relief appearances and junior Nick Kennedy has totaled a perfect 0.00 ERA in his three relief appearances, adding a save.
UK leads the all-time series 27-8, wining seven consecutive games in the series. The Wildcats own a 17-6 record in games played in Lexington, with XU posting its last win on April 1, 1998 in Lexington. UK has won 18 of the last 19 meetings between the two programs.
In the last meeting with Xavier, UK posted a 12-1 win in Lexington on March 20, 2008. UK started Clint Tilford, who tossed five shutout innings, with Mike Kaczmarek hurling three shutout innings in relief. UK got a four-RBI game from Collin Cowgill and a three-RBI outing from Brian Spear and catcher Tyler Howe. Cowgill, Spear, Howe and Chris McClendon each hit homers, with Spear belting two jacks. Wiley hit leadoff and played leftfield, going 2-for-5 with a run scored. For Xavier, Muransky pitched 1.1 innings of relief, allowing four hits and one run, striking out two. UK and Xavier also met at the Coca-Cola Classic, hosted by South Alabama in Mobile, Ala., for the season opener on Feb. 23, 2008, with UK posting a 10-1 win, with Carroll leading the charge offensively, going 3-for-5 with three RBI and a homer. UK starter Chris Rusin went seven innings and allowed just one run, with Darnell tossing the final two perfect innings in relief. Wiley went 0-for-4 with a walk in the game, while Chris Bisson registed his first career start, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Xavier starter Charlie Leesman.
UK ranks throughout the SEC stats totaling the third-most homers in the SEC (26) and the seventh-best team ERA (3.97), stealing a league-leading (39) bases. UK has totaled a .966 fielding percentage, ranking eighth in the SEC, but the Wildcats have showcased one of the best defenses in the league, leading the conference in chances (820), assists (255) and double plays (23), ranking third in putouts (537).
Individually, Farris ranks eighth in the league in homers (five), with Kapteyn ranking 10th in doubles (six) and Taylor Black checking in second in hit by pitches (11). Neiko Johnson leads the league in stolen bases (15) and attempts (15). Darnell ranks tops in the conference in innings pitched (35.0), with Rogers checking in sixth in the league in innings pitched (30.1). Meyer ranks third in the league in strikeouts (36), second in strikeouts looking (13) and third in wins (four). Little ranks second in the league in saves (four) and games finished (eight). Senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer leads the SEC in pickoffs (three). In the defense stats, Black leads the SEC in assists (67), with Gunner Glad ranking third in the league in chances (179) and putouts (161), and second in double plays (20). Burns checks in seventh in the SEC in assists.
In the weekly national rankings, UK fell to No. 21 in the Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports poll and No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. The Wildcats dropped out of the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper weekly rankings.
Kentucky – 15-5, 1-2 SEC
Xavier – 4-14, 0-0 Atlantic 10
• No. 24 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll)
• No. 21 (Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports)
• Not ranked (Baseball America)
• Not ranked (Collegiate Baseball Newspaper)
• Not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, March 23 * vs. Xavier * 6:30 p.m.
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Tuesday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday vs. Xavier
TBA vs. RHP Brian Muransky (0-4, 10.66 ERA)
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is FREE.
UK will utilize two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center and the brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. Both parking lots are only steps away from Cliff Hagan Stadium.
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.
Fans should not use the university “R” lots adjacent to the dorms or on the south side of Nutter Training Facility. These lots are patrolled by the university 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fans that park in these lots may be ticketed or towed. Plenty of parking will be available in the C8 and PS7 lots.