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No. 12 Baseball Hosts Missouri in Crucial Three-Game Set

Junior Thomas Bernal has hit .330 in 2014 and is 13-for-28 over his last seven games.

Junior Thomas Bernal has hit .330 in 2014 and is 13-for-28 over his last seven games.

April 10, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coming off a series win over 12th-ranked Florida last weekend, No. 12 Kentucky will return to action with a crucial three-game series with Missouri, with the series opener slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Saturday and Sunday games will be televised live on Fox Sport South and CWKYT, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Brian Milam calling the action. All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the game. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM. All three games will be live in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

The Wildcats are turning to the weekend rotation of junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed (6-1, 1.93 ERA) on Friday, sophomore southpaw Dylan Dwyer (3-1, 4.50 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-hander Andrew Nelson (1-2, 2.79 ERA) on Sunday. Missouri will counter with junior flame-throwing righty Brett Graves (3-2, 2.30 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander John Miles (2-3, 5.02 ERA) on Saturday and fifth-year senior righty Eric Anderson (1-2, 2.96 ERA) on Sunday.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed enters the week as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Hitter of the Week. A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, Reed will be making his 23rd consecutive series-opening start on Friday. In eight starts in 2014, Reed has worked 56 innings, allowing 45 hits and walking 16, striking out 32 and holding opponents to a .221 average. In his last start on Friday vs. No. 12 Florida, Reed improved to 4-0 against top-12 teams in 2014, working seven shutout innings, scattering five singles and two walks, striking out three. In his last start vs. Missouri in 2013, Reed allowed nine hits and four runs in 4.1 innings, walking two and not recording a strikeout in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers. Graves has made eight starts for Missouri in 2014, working 54.2 innings, allowing just 47 hits - 43 singles - and eight walks, striking out 45. In 2013 vs. UK, Graves picked up his second win of the year with five innings on the mound, allowing three hits and two runs, walking five and striking out three. On Friday vs. Georgia, Braves worked 7.1 innings in a no-decision, allowing nine hits and one run, walking one and striking out nine on 111 pitches.

On Saturday, UK will turn to Dwyer for his first career SEC start. A 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Murray, Ky., Dwyer has appeared in eight games with five starts in 2014, working 32 innings, allowing 27 hits and 10 walks, striking out 33. Dwyer has UK's lone complete-game shutout in 2014, a blanking of Cincinnati, marking UK's first midweek complete-game shutout in program history, with records dating back to 2003. In his last start on Tuesday, April 1 vs. No. 8 Louisville, Dwyer worked 5.2 innings for his third win of the year. Dwyer allowed seven UL hits, walking two and striking out three, surrendering just a two-run homer in the second inning. Miles has made eight starts in 2014, working 43 innings, allowing 50 hits and 11 walks, striking out 33 and holding opponents to a .286 average. In 2013 vs. UK, Miles worked 1.1 innings in relief in the finale of the series, allowing three hits and one run, not issuing a walk and striking out two on 30 pitches. On Saturday vs. Georgia, Miles worked 5.1 innings in a loss, allowing six hits and five runs - three earned - walking three and striking out four on 105 pitches.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Nelson has made nine appearances and six starts, making five consecutive series-concluding starts. Nelson has worked 38.2 innings, allowing 35 hits and eight walks, striking out 22. In his last start on Sunday vs. No. 12 Florida, Nelson worked five strong innings, allowing three unearned runs, walking one and striking out one, surrendering five hits. Nelson allowed two runs in the top of the third after an error at shortstop, with UK immediately responding on the strength of a Reed game-tying homer. Nelson then surrendered the lead with an unearned run in the top of the fifth after an error at shortstop, with the Wildcats bouncing back with a game-winning seven-run rally in the sixth. Anderson, a veteran of the USA Collegiate National Team, has appeared in six games with five starts in 2014, working 27.1 innings, allowing 25 hits and four walks, striking out 29. In 2013 vs. UK, Anderson took a no-decision after allowing four hits and three runs in 7.1 innings, walking three and striking out four. On Saturday vs. Georgia, Missouri picked up a 4-2 win behind Anderson, who worked a complete game, allowing just six hits and two runs, not issuing and walk and striking out 12.

The Wildcats are a consensus top-20 team, earning a ranking as high as No. 12 by Baseball America, also ranking No. 14 (Perfect Game), No. 15 (ESPN/USA Today), No. 17 (NCBWA) and No. 18 (Collegiate Baseball) in the weekly rankings. Missouri is the first SEC opponent that the Wildcats will be facing that are not currently ranked in the top 12 or were not ranked in the top-25 in the preseason.

Kentucky (22-11, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a midweek loss to Morehead State on Tuesday, with the Eagles fighting through a 90-minute rain delay to post a 6-4 win over the Wildcats. Last weekend, UK improved to 7-4 against top-15 teams in 2014, during the week, starting with an 8-3 midweek win over No. 8 Louisville, in front of the fourth-largest crowd in program history. After routing SEC-leading Florida 17-1 in the series opener and then falling 11-10 in the middle game of the series, the Wildcats posted a thrilling 9-8 comeback win over the Gators in the rubber match on Sunday, as Reed - the midseason national player of the year - cranked homers in all three games of the series to earn consensus national and conference player of the week honors.

UK totaled 36 runs in the three-game weekend vs. UF, marking their most runs scored in a series against the Gators in program history, shattering the previous mark of 32 runs scored in a 1999 series with Florida. It marked the most runs for UK in a three-game SEC series since the Wildcats scored 37 runs against South Carolina in 2006 and in 1995, with UK's program record coming in 39 runs scored in 1993 vs. Vanderbilt.

Ranked as high as No. 12 as a consensus top-25 team, Florida entered the weekend with the Wildcats sporting a 2.94 ERA, holding opponents to a .244 average, and coming off a week that saw the Gators edge No. 1 Florida State and sweep No. 4 LSU. UK pounded out 50 hits in the three-game series, belted 15 extra-base hits - including seven homers - and owned a .471 on-base percentage, batting .410 and slugging .656.

The series win for the Wildcats was their second consecutive over the Gators, as UK won the rubber match in 2013 in Gainesville. UK's series win over Florida in Lexington was its first since 2008.

On Friday in a 17-1 win over Florida, UK equaled its largest margin of victory in SEC play in program history, last done in 16-run wins over Vanderbilt in 1993 and Tennessee in 1990. Reed worked seven shutout innings on the mound, while also belting two doubles and a homer at the plate in the rout of the Gators. On Saturday, Florida jumped out to a 9-0 lead entering the eighth inning before the Wildcats rallied with eight two-out runs to cut it to one run entering the ninth inning. UF added two runs in the ninth to stretch its lead, with UK plating two runs but stranding the tying and winning runs on base to end the game and even the series. UK bounced back on Sunday with a comeback win. Trailing 3-2 entering the sixth, the Wildcats plated seven two-out runs to take a 9-3 lead, fighting off a five-run frame for the Gators in the eighth to secure the win, with Spencer Jack and Kyle Cody locking it down in relief, with Cody picking up his second save.

Kentucky now has wins over top-ranked Virginia, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 5 Vanderbilt, No. 8 Louisville and No. 12 Florida. In UK head coach Gary Henderson's career, the Wildcats have 43 wins over top-20 foes. With the series vs. Florida, UK wrapped up a stretch of facing 10 of 11 ranked opponents, including seven straight. UK's three straight SEC weekends facing top-15 teams marked just the third time in program history (with records dating back to 2003) the Wildcats faced such a challenge and the first time since 2006. In addition, UK's SEC-opening weekend at Alabama came against a Crimson Tide club that was ranked in the top-25 in the preseason by Baseball America and are currently leading the conference.

The Wildcats have hit an SEC-leading .313 in 2014, pacing the conference with a .462 slugging and a .413 on-base percentage, slugging 66 doubles, seven triples, 31 homers and scoring 288 runs. Defensively, UK has fielded .967, turning 29 double plays and allowing just 15 steals. On the mound, UK has a 3.26 ERA in 33 games, saving five games in 293 innings, walking 88 and striking out 204.

Individually, Reed - the midseason national player of the year - leads the Wildcats at the plate with a .373 average, totaling nine doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 41 RBI, with a .771 slugging and a .500 on-base percentage. Centerfielder Austin Cousino has hit .348 with 10 doubles, two triples, three homers and 25 RBI, stealing 12 bases. Catcher Micheal Thomas has a .345 average with seven doubles, one triple, six homers and 33 RBI, with third baseman Max Kuhn hitting .331 with nine doubles, four homers and 30 RBI, drawing a team-high 25 walks. First baseman Thomas Bernal has hit .330 with four doubles, one homer and 15 RBI, with leftfielder Ka'ai Tom owning a .302 average with four doubles, 13 RBI, eight steals and a 14-5 walk-strikeout ratio. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .283 with five doubles, one triple, 18 RBI and 10 steals. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has a .282 average with six doubles, one triple, three homers and 15 RBI, with shortstops Matt Reida hitting .220 and Connor Heady hitting .130.

In relief, UK has been led by a team-high 16 appearances from Spencer Jack (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who has two saves in 21 innings, allowing five walks and striking out 17. Freshman lefty Logan Salow (1-1, 1.38 ERA) has worked 11 games and saved one game in 13 innings, striking out 16. Kyle Cody (3-0, 2.41 ERA) has two saves in nine games and three starts, with Ryne Combs (1-2, 3.86 ERA) appearing in 10 games with three starts. Freshman Zack Brown (0-0, 3.86 ERA) has worked seven innings in nine games, with Zach Strecker (0-1, 4.05 ERA), Matt Snyder (0-0, 6.00 ERA), Sam Mahar (1-0, 6.75 ERA) and Taylor Martin (0-0, 7.11 ERA) each appearing in at least six games.

Missouri (15-16, 4-8 SEC) is coming off a midweek win over Missouri State and a series loss to Georgia in Columbia, Mo. The Tigers suffered a 2-1 loss in 13 innings in the series opener with UGA, before splitting a series-concluding twinbill on Saturday, using a complete-game, 12-strikeout game from Eric Anderson to salvage the series in the finale.

The Tigers have hit .261 as a team in 31 games, with 45 doubles, five homers and 129 runs scored, owning a .347 on-base percentage and a .329 slugging mark. Missouri has fielded .970, turning 16 double plays and allowing 38 steals. On the mound, Mizzou has a 3.47 ERA in 31 games, with nine saves in 277.2 innings, walking 64 and striking out 219.

At the plate, Missouri has been led by its Sunday starting pitcher, Eric Anderson, who has hit .323 with six doubles, two triples, two homers and 10 RBI. Catcher Dylan Kelly has hit .320 with six doubles, one homer and 15 RBI, with Kendall Keeton hitting .304 with four doubles, one triple, 14 RBI and seven steals. Shane Segovia has hit .287 with 10 doubles, one homer and 14 RBI, while shortstop Josh Lester has hit .252 with three doubles and seven RBI, stealing 3-of-9 bases. Ryan Howard has a .247 average with a homer and 14 RBI, with Dillon Everett hitting .212 and Jake Ring batting .207.

In relief for Missouri, two-way player Keaton Steele (0-5, 3.45 ERA) has appeared in 16 games with seven saves, striking out 26 in 28.2 innings. Austin Tribby (1-0, 1.69 ERA) has appeared in 20 games, working 16 innings, with Breckin Williams (1-1, 1.11 ERA) saving two games in 24.1 innings and 17 relief outings. Peter Fairbanks (3-2, 5.19 ERA) and Ryan Phillips (2-1, 7.84 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games.

The all-time series between the two teams is tied 2-2, with Missouri winning the first-ever series meeting in 2013 in Columbia, Mo., on the final weekend of the regular season. UK won the first meeting, and the only meeting in Lexington, in 1984, 11-4.

Last year, Kentucky traveled to Missouri for the final weekend of the season, needing to win two of three games to bolster its case for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers jumped out to a series lead with a 4-2 win in the opener, getting two runs in the third and single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings for the win, fighting off UK's single runs in the fourth and fifth. UK started A.J. Reed, who allowed nine hits and four runs in 4.1 innings, walking two and not striking anyone out. Chandler Shepherd worked 3.2 hitless innings in relief, striking out three. Brett Graves picked up the win for Missouri, with five innings, allowing just one earned run in the start, with Jake Walsh and Keaton Steele allowing just two UK hits over the final four shutout innings in relief. UK was led by two hits from Kyle Barrett, who also drew a walk. In the middle game, Kentucky took a three-run lead in the third inning, before allowing a run in the third and two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to even up the game heading to the bottom of the eighth inning. Steele then belted a game-winning homer off UK senior reliever Walter Wijas, handing him his first career loss in a must-win situation for the Wildcats. UK salvaged the series in the finale with a 5-1 win, getting a strong pitching outing from Corey Littrell, who allowed just one run in seven innings, walking four and striking out seven. Shepherd and Trevor Gott combined to worked shutout innings in the eighth and ninth, with UK getting a three-hit game from J.T. Riddle and two hits from Zack Zellers, Paul McConkey and Micheal Thomas.

Records
Kentucky - 22-11, 6-6 SEC
Missouri - 15-16, 4-8 SEC

Rankings
Kentucky - No. 12 (Baseball America), No. 14 (Perfect Game), No. 15 (ESPN/USA Today), No. 17 (NCBWA), No. 18 (Collegiate Baseball)
Missouri - not ranked

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. Missouri * Friday, April 11 * 6:30 p.m.
vs. Missouri * Saturday, April 12 * 7 p.m.
vs. Missouri * Sunday, April 13 * 1 p.m.

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
Friday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Saturday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Sunday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville

Television
Saturday/Sunday: FSS/CWKYT with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Brian Milam

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Missouri
Jr., LHP/1B A.J. Reed (6-1, 1.93 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Brett Graves (3-2, 2.30 ERA)
Saturday vs. Missouri
So., LHP Dylan Dwyer (3-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP John Miles (2-3, 5.02 ERA)
Sunday vs. Missouri
Jr., RHP Andrew Nelson (1-2, 2.79 ERA) vs. R-Sr., RHP Eric Anderson (1-2, 2.96 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 two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, and the 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 is available in the C8 and PS7 lots.

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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