LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of nine consecutive non-conference games, the Kentucky baseball team hits the road for the first of a two-game series with Western Kentucky, taking on the Hilltoppers at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The game will be played at the Bowling Green Ballpark, the home of the low class A Bowling Green Hot Rods, affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
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 can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
UK will start sophomore right-hander Jordan Cooper (2-1, 5.23 ERA) against Western Kentucky sophomore righty Taylor Haydel (5-3, 6.77 ERA). Cooper has made 10 appearances and eight starts, posting one save in 43 innings, walking 17 and striking out 28. Haydel has appeared in 18 games and started seven, hurling 41.1 innings, walking 20 and striking out 29.
Kentucky (17-20, 2-13 Southeastern Conference) fell in the three-game series at Ole Miss by a combined four runs, with two one-run losses and a two-run loss on Saturday. In the Friday game, UK held a 1-0 lead courtesy of the best start of the career of junior right-hander Alex Meyer, before a two-out error allowed a run to score on a dropped pop-up in the sixth, with Ole Miss rallying in the later innings for a 3-2 win. In the Saturday contest, UK fell behind 9-1 and 12-3, before mounting a furious rally with seven unanswered runs and loaded the bases in the ninth inning before falling 12-10. On Sunday, UK fell behind early but rallied with a five-run inning in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead. Ole Miss plated the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning to seal a 6-5 win. In the midweek win at Louisville, UK got a spending pitching performance from Cooper and a ninth-inning rally to post a 3-2 win.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by senior shortstop Taylor Black, who has batted .346 with 12 doubles, two triples, one homer and 24 RBI, stealing 10 bases. Braden Kapteyn leads UK with 38 RBI, adding a .326 average with five homers and eight RBI. Chad Wright has batted .321 with 10 doubles, four homers and 26 RBI, swiping a team-high 13 bases. Freshman J.T. Riddle has hit .318 with three homers, 20 RBI and five stolen bases. Third sacker Thomas McCarthy leads the club with 14 doubles, batting .312 with four homers and 20 RBI. Centerfielder Brian Adams has hit .304 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 12 RBI, stealing eight bags.
On the mound, Meyer (3-5, 3.59 ERA) leads UK in innings pitched (62.2) and strikeouts (71), tossing nine starts and two complete games. Taylor Rogers (2-4, 2.89 ERA) has made nine weekend starts with 53.1 innings pitched and four quality starts. In the pen, freshman Trevor Gott (2-3, 0.38 ERAA) has paced the staff, striking out 29 in 23.2 innings.
Last year, UK fell to Western Kentucky at the Bowling Green Ballpark, in a game played in front of 6,183, the largest crowd to ever witness a college baseball game in the state of Kentucky. The Wildcats got a three-hit game from Lance Ray vs. WKU and a two-hit, two-run game from Black. WKU started Brian Edelen in the game and he went five innings, allowing one run and two walks, striking out three for the win. WKU also used Ross Hammonds, Tyler Gilliand and Aaron Mayfield in relief.
WKU (24-13) picked up a series win against Arkansas State last weekend and is currently tied for second in the Sun Belt. WKU has hit .313 as a team with 27 homers and 245 RBI, fielding .979 and posting a 3.86 ERA. Kes Carter has led WKU at the plate with a .378 average with five homers and 28 RBI, while catcher Matt Rice has hit .368 with seven homers and 44 RBI. In relief, Phil Petherell (0-1, 3.68 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 20 games with four saves in 36.2 innings, walking 12 and striking out 29. The WKU star closer from 2010, Rye Davis (1-3, 6.75 ERA), has saved three games in 16 outings, striking out 23 and walking 20 in 29.1 innings.
Western Kentucky: 24-13
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) – Bowling Green, Ky.
Tuesday, April 19 * at Western Kentucky * 7 p.m.
Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)
Wednesday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday at Western Kentucky
So., RHP Jordan Cooper vs. So., RHP Taylor Haydel
Bowling Green Ballpark (4,500)