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No. 30 Baseball Hosts No. 18 Western Kentucky Wednesday

Neiko Johnson leads the team and the SEC with 15 steals.

Neiko Johnson leads the team and the SEC with 15 steals.

Live blog | Western Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UK Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After an efficient dispatching of Cincinnati on Tuesday night in the Queen City, the No. 30 Kentucky baseball team will return home for a midweek showdown with No. 18 Western Kentucky, with first-pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (17-8) posted an impressive 11-2 thrashing of Cincinnati Tuesday night, using an outstanding pitching performance from sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Sean Bouthilette. The Elizabethtown, Ky., native worked a career-high six innings for his first win of the season, striking out a career-best six hitters and allowing only two runs, with one run earned. UK also got a four-hit performance from senior Gunner Glad, who hit his third homer of the year, and a solo homer from freshman catcher Luke Maile.

The Wildcats will turn to freshman right-hander Sam Kidd (1-0, 6.61 ERA) Wednesday to face off with WKU junior right-hander Brian Edelen (3-0, 3.32 ERA). Kidd has started three games and appeared in six this season, tossing 16.1 innings, allowing 12 earned runs, five walks and 12 strikeouts. Edelen, a 6-foot-1, 194-pound native of Fisherville, Ky., has appeared in 10 games this season for the Hilltoppers this season, making four starts. Edelen has tossed 21.2 innings, allowing only 18 hits and eight runs, issuing 16 walks and striking out 11.

Kentucky has been led offensively by junior preseason All-America second baseman Chris Bisson, who has batted for a .385 (30-for-78) average, with four doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBI, stealing 10-of-14 bases. UK sophomore leftfielder Chad Wright has hit for a .366 (37-for-101) average with six doubles, two triples, two homers and 20 RBI, stealing 7-of-9 bases. Glad has added a .348 (32-for-92) average with six doubles, three homers and 19 RBI, while senior centerfielder Keenan Wiley has totaled a .330 (29-for-88) average with four doubles, three homers and 20 RBI, swiping 6-of-8 bags. Sophomore rightfielder Cory Farris leads the team with six homers, complementing a .310 (18-for-58) average, with nine of his 18 total hits going for extra bases. Sophomore Braden Kapteyn has added six doubles, three homers, 15 RBI and a .276 (21-for-76) average, while junior shortstop Taylor Black has batted .261 (18-for-69) with a homer and 13 RBI, stealing 7-of-7 bags. Senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer has hit .250 (15-for-60) with three homers and 12 RBI and sophomore third baseman Andy Burns has batted .237 (22-for-92) with four homers and 11 RBI, stealing 5-of-5 bases.

In the bullpen, UK has been led by junior right-hander Matt Little (1-0, 1.71 ERA), who leads the team in appearances (10) and saves (four), striking out 29 in 21 innings and allowing only eight hits. Kapteyn (1-0, 0.00 ERA), a 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way standout, has totaled a save in his five relief appearances, with reliever Nick Kennedy (1-1, 0.87 ERA), helping to anchor the stingy UK bullpen. Kennedy has struck out 14 in 10.1 innings, recording a save in five outings.

UK is in the midst of a brutal schedule that will see the Wildcats play ranked teams in 19-of-20 games, including a stretch of 16 consecutive games against ranked foes (according to last week’s rankings). UK’s lone non-ranked opponent was its Tuesday foe, Cincinnati, a team considered one of the best in the Big East.

Western Kentucky (20-5) has quickly emerged as one of the top programs in the nation and the power of the Sun Belt under head coach Chris Finwood and with a 20-5 start, has opened with the best start in program annals. The Hilltoppers won the rugged Sun Belt Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2009, coming just shy of advancing to a NCAA Super Regional. Off to a blistering pace in 2010, WKU has posted wins over Texas A&M, Baylor, Vanderbilt and New Orleans so far this season, with the win over Vanderbilt coming as a 17-2 result. As a team, WKU has hit for a .326 average in 25 games, totaling a 4.20 ERA on the mound.

Individually, the Hilltoppers have been led by Jared Andreoli, who leads the team with a .388 (40-for-103) average, totaling four triples, three homers and 28 RBI, stealing 8-of-10 bases. Matt Rice has hit .387 (41-for-106) with a staggering 11 doubles, six homers and 35 RBI, while Kes Carter has batted .385 (42-for-109) with six doubles, five homers and 33 RBI, stealing 8-of-10 bags. Ryan Huck has hit .378 (17-for-45) with three homers and 12 RBI, while Matt Payton has totaled a .361 (39-for-108) average with seven doubles, five triples, six homers and 30 RBI. Casey Dykes has hit .353 (36-for-102) with four homers and 16 RBI.

In the bullpen, WKU has been led by Rye Davis (2-0, 1.47 ERA), who leads the team with 14 relief appearances, totaling four saves in 18.1 innings, striking out 24. Craig Stem (1-1, 2.35 ERA) has appeared in 12 games, tossing 7.2 innings, with 12 strikeouts. Phil Wetherell (0-1, 7.00 ERA), Taylor Haydel (0-1, 9.31 ERA) and Garrie Grueger (0-1, 10.80 ERA) have each appeared in seven or more games for WKU.

UK holds a 30-21 lead in the series with Western Kentucky, including a 17-12 mark in games played in Lexington. Last season, WKU posted a 10-9 win over UK in Lexington, as the Hilltoppers took the lead with a four-run top of the eighth inning, using ace Friday night starter Matt Ridings to close out the game in his first relief appearance of the 2009 season. UK started Clint Tilford, who went 2.2 innings and allowed seven hits and four runs. In relief, UK used Kapteyn, Mike Kaczmarek, Tyler Henry and Logan Darnell, with Darnell taking the loss after allowing the decisive run in his two innings. At the plate, Bisson and Glad head had two hits, along with Chris McClendon. WKU got multi-hit games from a slew of players, including Rice, Carter, Matt Hightower, Chad Cregar, Jake Wells and shortstop Terrence Dayleg.

Records
Kentucky – 17-8
Western Kentucky – 20-5

Rankings
Kentucky
•    No. 30 (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association)
Western Kentucky
•    No. 21 (Collegiate Baseball Newspaper)
•    No. 25 (NCBWA)
•    No. 18 (Baseball America)
•    No. 25 (USA Today/ESPN)

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Wednesday, March 31 * vs. No. 18 Western Kentucky * 6:30 p.m.

Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Wednesday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington

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

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Wednesday vs. Western Kentucky
RHP Sam Kidd (1-0, 6.61 ERA) vs. RHP Brian Edelen (3-0, 3.32 ERA)

Stadium
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Parking
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.

 


 

 

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