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No. 19 Baseball Looks to Complete Sweep of No. 9 Louisville

Sophomore Ryne Combs will be making his fourth midweek start of the year on Tuesday.

Sophomore Ryne Combs will be making his fourth midweek start of the year on Tuesday.

April 14, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the record sixth consecutive time, No. 19 Kentucky and No. 9 Louisville will face off as ranked foes, with the Wildcats traveling to battle the Cardinals, with first pitch on Tuesday at Jim Patterson Stadium slated for 6 p.m. ET.

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 Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

Kentucky (23-13) will be seeking its first series sweep since the 2011 season over Louisville, after the Wildcats claimed the first game of the two-game set, 8-3 in Lexington on April 1. The Wildcats got the first-career homer from Thomas Bernal in the win, with Dylan Dwyer shining in 5.2 innings on the mound.

The rivals are meeting for the record sixth straight time as ranked foes, with each meeting since 2012 showcasing top-25 teams.

UK will turn to sophomore southpaw Ryne Combs (1-2, 3.70 ERA) for his fourth midweek start of the year, facing off with Louisville freshman southpaw Josh Rogers (0-1, 4.60 ERA). A native of Lexington, Ky., has appeared in 11 games with three starts in 2014, working 24.1 innings, allowing 24 hits and nine walk, striking out seven. Rogers has worked five games and started three, owning 15.2 innings pitched, allowing 13 hits and four walks, striking out 11. Rogers started on April 1 vs. Kentucky, suffering his first career loss after allowing five hits and five runs in four innings, walking two and striking out one.

Kentucky is coming off a four-game week at Cliff Hagan Stadium, opening the week with a 6-4 loss to Morehead State after a 90-minute rain delay on Tuesday. The Wildcats then mounted a comeback on Friday night vs. Missouri to take a two-run lead into the eighth inning, before allowing the go-ahead three-run homer in the series-opening loss. UK bounced back with a 12-0 win to even the series on Saturday, getting a homer for the second consecutive game and the record fifth straight SEC game from A.J. Reed, who struck out a career-high 10 on Friday in a no decision. In the rubber match on Sunday, UK rallied to tie the game at 4-4, before starting pitcher/DH Eric Anderson – who hit the game-winning homer on Friday – drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and the Tigers added four runs on two UK errors in the ninth for an 8-3 win. It marked UK’s first home series loss of 2014 and its first since falling to No. 1 Vanderbilt in 2013.

The Wildcats have been paced in 2014 by one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the nation, leading the SEC in average (.314), slugging (.480), on-base percentage (.410), runs (310), homers (33) and RBI (272). Reed, the midseason national player of the year by Perfect Game, has hit .374 with 10 doubles, one triple, a nation-leading 14 homers, driving in 48 runs. On the mound, Reed has a 6-1 record and a 2.29 ERA in nine Friday night starts, working 63 innings and sporting wins over No. 1 Virginia, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 5 Vanderbilt and No. 12 Florida.

UK has been paced at the plate by Reed, with senior catcher Micheal Thomas posting career marks with a 352 average, owning seven doubles, one triple, six homers and 35 RBI. Thomas Bernal has hit .346 with four doubles, one homer and 17 RBI, with third baseman Max Kuhn hitting .340 with 11 doubles, four homers and 34 RBI. Centerfielder Austin Cousino owns a .340 average with 10 doubles, two triples, three homers and 25 RBI, stealing 14-of-14 bases. Ka’ai Tom has a .313 average with six doubles and 16 RBI, with Kyle Barrett batting .277 with five doubles, one homer, 18 RBI and 10 steals. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has hit .263 with six doubles, one triple, three homers and 15 RBI, with shortstop Matt Reida hitting .230 with three doubles and 18 RBI.

On the mound, UK used the weekend rotation of Reed, Dylan Dwyer (4-1, 3.76 ERA) and Andrew Nelson (1-3, 3.22 ERA) last weekend vs. Missouri. UK has also used junior Chandler Shepherd (5-2, 3.61 ERA) for eight Saturday starts in 2014. In relief, Spencer Jack (1-1, 1.59 ERA) has two saves in a team-high 17 relief outings, with Logan Salow (1-1, 1.93 ERA) owning a save and Kyle Cody (3-0, 2.70 ERA) saving two games in 10 games.

Louisville (27-8) is coming off a four-game sweep of its weekend, including a key series sweep at No. 7 Houston over the weekend. The Cardinals have won five consecutive games and have gone 6-1 since the midweek loss to Kentucky to open April.

The Cardinals have hit .288 as a team, with a .398 slugging and a .385 on-base percentage, slugging 15 homers, 60 doubles and 12 triples, stealing 76 bases. On the mound, the Cards have a 3.04 ERA, with eight saves in 35 games, working 317 innings, walking 136 and striking out 288, with opponents hitting .231. Defensively, UL has fielded .971, turning 29 double plays, picking off nine runners and holding opponents to 31 steals in 48 attempts.

Individually, slugger Jeff Gardner leads the Cards at the plate, hitting .363 with 13 doubles, two triples, three homers and 40 RBI. First baseman Grant Kay has hit .307 with three homers and 33 RBI, stealing 17-of-17 bases. Zach Lucas has hit .290 with four homers and 28 RBI, with outfielder Cole Sturgeon hitting .278 with one homer, 21 RBI and 11 steals. Alex Chittenden has hit .276 with 13 RBI, with shortstop Sutton Whiting hitting .262 with a homer, 10 RBI and 20 steals.

In relief, Louisville is guided by one of the top closers in the nation, flame-throwing righty Nick Burdi (2-0, 0.00 ERA). Burdi has appeared in 17 games with seven saves in 17.1 innings, allowing just seven singles and six walks, striking out 30 and holding opponents to a .115 average. Kyle McGrath (1-1, 0.94 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 15 games, striking out 33 in 28.2 innings. Sturgeon (2-0, 1.29 ERA) has appeared in 12 games in relief, striking out 21 in 21 innings. Drew Harrington (1-0, 5.40 ERA) and Robert Strader (0-0, 2.38 ERA) have each appeared in at least nine games.

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Louisville, 67-35-1, including a 24-17-1 record in games played in Louisville. The two teams have split the series five times since 2007, with UK sweeping in 2011 and Louisville sweeping during the 2012 UK school-record campaign.

UK won the meeting in Lexington on April 1, 8-3, in front of the fourth-largest crowd in UK history, 3,742. UK got 5.2 innings in the win from Dylan Dwyer, who allowed seven hits and two runs, walking two and striking out two. Dwyer’s only damage came on Kyle Gibson’s go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the second, with UK immediately answering with two runs in its half of the inning, before blowing the game open with three in the fourth and two in the fifth. Spencer Jack picked up the save for UK, working 2.2 hitless innings in relief, striking out three. Thomas Bernal belted his first career homer for the Wildcats, going 3-for-4 with four RBI. JaVon Shelby also homered in a 2-for-2, three RBI, two-walk game. Max Kuhn, Micheal Thomas, Kyle Barrett and Matt Reida each collected hits, as seven of nine UK starters charted at least one hit. Louisville started Josh Rogers, who allowed five hits and five runs in four innings, walking two and striking out one on 59 pitches. Drew Harrington, Jonah Philley, Kyle McGrath and Ryan Lauria worked in relief for the Cards, with McGrath firing two hitless innings with three strikeouts.

Kentucky leads the SEC in average (.314), slugging (.460), on-base percentage (.410), runs (310), RBI (272), homers (33) and total bases (583), also ranking second in hits (398), doubles (73), hit batters (64) and stolen bases ( 236). UK junior A.J. Reed ranks as the SEC leader in homers (14), slugging (.786), on-base percentage (.494), RBI (48) and total bases (103), also ranking second in average (.374), third in runs (39), eighth in hits (49), fourth in walks (29), second in wins (six) and third in innings (63). Max Kuhn ranks as the SEC leader in runs (43), ranking 14th in average (.340), 12th in slugging (.497), second in on-base percentage (.458), sixth in hits (50), fourth in RBI (34), eighth in doubles (11), eighth in homers (four), seventh in total bases (73) and first in walks (29). Austin Cousino ranks 15th in average (.340), 15th in slugging (.487), second in runs (40), second in hits (53), fifth in total bases (76) and third in steals (13). Micheal Thomas ranks eighth in average (.352), second in slugging (.568), 14th in on-base percentage (.424), third in RBI (35) and third in homers (six).

Records
Kentucky – 23-13
Louisville – 27-8

Rankings (as of 4/14/14)
Kentucky – No. 19 (Baseball America), No. 22 (ESPN/USA Today), No. 24 (NCBWA)
Louisville – No. 9 (Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA, ESPN/USA Today), No. 10 (Baseball America)

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
at Louisville * April 15 * 6 p.m.

Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
•    WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
•    WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville

Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday at Louisville
So., LHP Ryne Combs (1-2, 3.70 ERA) vs. Fr., LHP Josh Rogers (0-1, 4.60 ERA)

Internet Coverage
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Stadium
Jim Patterson Stadium


 

 

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