Summer Notebook: Cousino Sparkles in USA Debut
June 26, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In his USA Collegiate National Team debut, Kentucky freshman outfielder Austin Cousino collected a pair of doubles, three RBI and a stolen base to lead USA to a summer-opening 11-6 win over the Fayetteville SwampDogs in the Coastal Plains League on Monday night in Fayetteville, N.C., at J.P. Riddle Stadium.
Cousino debuted in sparkling fashion on Monday night, wearing the No. 1 USA jersey, starting as the leftfielder and No. 2 hitter in the order. The native of Dublin, Ohio, went 2-for-4 with two doubles, three runs, one walk, three RBI and a steal to pace the USA offensive attack with its lone extra-base knocks.
"Tonight was a great night, overall," Cousino said postgame in an interview with Tennessee baseball media relations director Cameron Harris, who is serving as the Team USA PR director. "I think some guys had a few nerves coming out here on the field for Team USA, but it was fun. There are a lot of things we can work on, but it was good to get out on the field for the first time together."
The game was the first for the USA Collegiate National Team, which consists of the top 22 players in the NCAA. Coached by Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano, the national team will next travel to Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday, facing off with the Wilmington Sharks at Buck Hardee Field at 7:05 p.m. ET, with UCLA's Adam Plutko getting the start.
Cousino had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of UK baseball in 2012, setting new freshman hitting records in nearly every category and becoming the first UK player to earn Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year accolades. Cousino hit .319 (83-for-260) with 20 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 41 RBI and nine steals, also leading the SEC with eight outfield assists.
After The USA club finishes its preseason matchups with summer league teams on June 28, it will being the Prospect Classic before venturing to face Cuba (July 5-9) and then to Haarlem, The Netherlands, to compete in the Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week with Japan, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei and The Netherlands.
Freshman infielder/catcher Thomas Bernal has played in 12 games with 11 starts in the Perfect Game Collegiate League with Amsterdam. The 6-foot, 210-pounder has collected a .170 average (8-for-47) with three doubles, five RBI and a steal. In 2012 for UK, Bernal appeared in 19 games with five starts, including starting on opening day. Bernal batted .370 (10-for-27) with four RBI, including a walk-off RBI in a win over Buffalo on Feb. 24.
Freshman two-way player Jeff Boehm is playing in the Perfect Game Collegiate League and has had a dynamic start to his first nine games in the field. The Lansing, Ill., native has hit .353 (12-for-34) with three doubles, one homer and eight RBI. On the mound, Boehm has tossed one inning in relief. In 2012 for UK, Boehm batted .357 (5-for-14) in 11 games, with two doubles and one RBI. On the mound, Boehm appeared in six games, tossing 3.2 innings, allowing only one hit and owning a 4.91 ERA.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Dunaway has pitched in four games in the NECBL for the Danbury Westerners. The 6-foot-1 native of Louisville, Ky., has tossed eight innings with nine strikeouts and only six hits and two walks allowed. His best outing came on June 19, tossing three shutout innings with only one hit allowed. In 2012 for UK, Dunaway appeared in two games, tossing two innings with three strikeouts.
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Gott has continued his dominance in the Cape, a summer after earning the Russell Ford CCBL Reliever of the Year Award for his league-best 13 save outing in 2011. Gott has appeared in five games in relief for Orleans this summer, recording four saves. He has tossed six innings and allowed only one hit and one walk, striking out one. In a dominating outing on June 18, Gott threw nine pitches and struck out the side in the ninth for his second save of the summer. In 2012 for UK, Gott had the most prolific campaign of any UK closer in UK history with a record nine saves. Gott owned a 3-0 record and a 2.16 ERA in 23 games, striking out 38 in 25 innings with 17 hits and seven walks allowed.
Junior southpaw Jerad Grundy is off to a good start in the Cape Cod League for Orleans, teaming with Gott and UK infielder J.T. Riddle. Grundy has posted a 1-0 mark and a 2.70 ERA in his first two starts while working on a pitch count. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound lefty who went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his two postseason starts for UK in 2012, has tossed 10 innings in the Cape, allowing seven hits and three walks, striking out nine. In his last start, Grundy worked five shutout, one-hit innings, walking two and striking out four in a win over Wareham. In 2012 for UK, Grundy was a weapon in the rotation, starting 16 games with a 6-3 record and a 3.78 ERA, tossing 85.2 innings, allowing 79 hits and 36 walks with 63 strikeouts.
Freshman utility player Steven Hoagland has been playing for the Lexington Hustlers in the Great Lakes League, while also taking several classes in pursuit of his engineering degree. Hoagland has hit .350 (7-for-20) in seven games, totaling five RBI, three walks and a stolen base. He is currently riding a streak of four consecutive games with an RBI hit. In 2012 for UK, Hoagland appeared in eight games, batting 1-for-8 with his first career hit going as a double and an RBI. His highlight moment came in the 21-inning NCAA Gary Regional opener, when Hoagland came off the bench, played 10 innings at second base and registered five at bats.
Freshman infielder Max Kuhn is playing in the highly competitive Northwoods League, suiting up for the Willmar Stingers. The 6-foot, 190-pound native of Zionsville, Ind., has appeared in 15 games in his first foray into wooden bats. He has hit .159 (7-for-44) with a double, homer and seven RBI, owning a 9-13 walk-strikeout ratio and a steal. After getting off to a sluggish start to open the summer (1-for-his-first-14), Kuhn has had a knock in four of his last five games, including a two-run homer on June 23. In 2012 for UK, Kuhn appeared in five games off the bench, batting 1-for-3 with three RBI and a walk.
Sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Corey Littrell has continued his All-SEC 2012 season into the Cape Cod League, the top collegiate league in the nation. Littrell is one of eight UK players on Cape Cod League rosters, tying LSU for the most players in the nation in the Cape. Littrell has started two games while being managed on a pitch count, owning a 3.24 ERA in 8.1 innings, striking out 14 and allowing only five hits and five walks. In his CCBL debut for Harwich, Littrell tossed four hitless innings on June 17, walking three and striking out eight before reaching his pitch limit. On June 24, Littrell worked 4.1 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, walking two and striking out six. In 2012 for UK, Littrell earned All-SEC honors with a 9-2 record and a 2.74 ERA in 98.2 innings, walking 25 and striking out 87.
Freshman right-hander Taylor Martin has joined Bernal, Boehm and Chandler Shepherd on the Amsterdam Mohawks in the PG League. Martin has made three starts, posting a 1-1 record and a 3.86 ERA. The Lexington, Ky., native and product of Lexington Catholic has hurled 16.1 innings, walking six and striking out 12. In 2012 for UK, Martin appeared in six games in relief, tossing four innings, allowing five hits and one walk, striking out three.
Sophomore infielder Paul McConkey has been tearing up the New England Collegiate League in his second stop in the NECBL. A 5-foot-11, left-handed hitter, McConkey has hit .410 (16-for-39) with 10 runs, four doubles, one homer and 10 RBI, stealing one base. A native of Knoxville, Tenn., McConkey ranks third in the NECBL in average, third in on-base percentage (.489) and has committed just one error while manning the hot corner. He has already collected three games with at least three hits, including a 4-for-6 game on June 20. In 2012 for UK, McConkey emerged late in the year as an impact bat, hitting .323 (10-for-31) in 20 games, with one double and two RBI.
Two-way player A.J. Reed, who was a first-team freshman All-America selection in 2012, has been playing in the Cape Cod League with Littrell on the Harwich Mariners. He has made one start on the mound, tossing four innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and striking out one. At the plate, Reed has opened up 2-for-19 with a pair of walks in his five starts. In 2012 for UK, Reed posted a .300 average (60-for-200) with nine doubles, four homers and 43 RBI, owning a 5-3 record and a 2.52 ERA in 16 appearances and five starts on the mound, owning 53.2 innings with nine walks and 51 strikeouts.
Sophomore shortstop Matt Reida has emerged as one of the top stories in a Cape Cod League packed with Wildcats. The 5-foot-11 native of Russiaville, Ind., has hit .310 through 10 games, batting leadoff and playing shortstop in each game. He has scored seven runs, launched one homer and had two doubles and two triples. Reida has added five RBI and drawn three walks. He ran up a seven-game hitting streak already through the CCBL, including a 4-for-5 game with two triples, one homer and two RBI. In 2012 for UK, Reida started all 63 games at shortstop, batting .239 (51-for-213) with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 22 RBI.
Sophomore infielder J.T. Riddle has played with Grundy and Gott on the Orleans Firebirds. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound left-handed hitter has batted .222 (8-for-36) in his first nine games, with a triple, five RBI and a steal. Riddle got off to a 1-for-20 start to the CCBL season, before erupting on June 23 with a 4-for-5 game that included a triple. In 2012 for UK, Riddle started all 63 games at second base and batted .279 (63-for-226) with 44 runs, 12 doubles, one triple, five homers and 38 RBI.
Freshman outfielder Damon Saunders has been playing in the Midwest Collegiate League during the summer. He has batted .220 (13-for-59) with four doubles, one homer and six RBI, stealing five bases. Saunders had a career game on June 23, batting 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. In 2012 for UK, Saunders played in two games, drawing his first career walk.
Freshman right-hander Chandler Shepherd has emerged as the most dominating starter in the Perfect Game Collegiate League through his first three starts, posting a 3-0 mark and a 0.45 ERA. A native of Louisa, Ky., and coming off a heroic performance in the NCAA Gary Regional, Shepherd has tossed 20 innings for Amsterdam, allowing only eight hits (one extra-base hit) and three walks, striking out 20 and holding opponents to a .121 average. In 2012 for UK, Shepherd turned in a strong freshman season, posting a 3-1 record and a 3.83 ERA with one save in 56.1 innings, walking 18 and striking out 50.
Sophomore catcher Micheal Thomas has been playing in the New England Collegiate League, for the Danbury Westerners. Thomas, a 5-foot-11 native of Elizabethtown, Ky., has opened up 1-for-18 with three walks and a steal on the summer. In 2012 for UK, Thomas recorded his first career start and played in 21 games, batting .250 (5-for-20) with three doubles, one homer and four RBI.
Junior right-hander Walter Wijas has appeared in four games in relief for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righty has posted a 3.60 ERA in five innings, allowing three hits and one walk, striking out five. He was perfect through his first four innings in the CCBP, before allowing two hits and two runs on June 24 vs. Bourne. In 2012 for UK, Wijas appeared in 20 games in relief with a 2-0 mark and a 5.57 ERA, tossing 21 innings, walking seven and striking out 17.
Sophomore outfielder Lucas Witt has played in the highly competitive Northwoods League with the La Crosse Loggers. Witt has played in six games and batted .200 (3-for-15), with two runs scored and a hit for the Loggers. On Monday night, Witt collected a pair of runs, drawing a walk and getting a hit. In 2012 for UK, Witt batted .319 (22-for-69) in 27 games, with one double, nine RBI and five steals.
Junior outfielder Zac Zellers is one of the top leadoff hitters in the Cape Cod League, playing with Wijas on the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The 6-foot, 185-pound right-handed hitter has batted .222 (8-for-36) in his first 10 games, adding a double, homer and three RBI, stealing five bases, ranking third in the CCBL in steals. Zellers ran up a seven-game hitting streak that was snapped on June 24 when he drew a pair of walks, including the leadoff walk in the ninth inning that scored the walk-off run. In 2012 for UK, Zellers hit .311 (55-for-177) with 12 doubles, one triple, five homers, 19 RBI and seven steals, leading the club with a .456 on-base percentage.