No. 9 Kentucky hosts No. 6 Louisville tonight

Riley Mahan. The University of Kentucky baseball team falls to Alabama 2-1 at Ciff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday, April 10, 2016. Photo by Chet White

Riley Mahan. (UK Photo by Chet White)

LEXINGTON, Ky. –The ninth ranked Kentucky baseball team will break from Southeastern Conference play to host No. 6 Louisville in a midweek tilt, with first pitch on Wednesday slated for 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network +, with Dick Gabriel and Keith Madison voicing the action. The game will also be live on the UK Sports Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

Kentucky will turn to sophomore left-handed pitcher Zach Logue (1-0, 4.02 ERA) to start against Louisville sophomore righty Kade McClure (6-0, 2.31 ERA). Logue, a native of Mason, Ohio, has appeared in eight games with two starts in 2016, working 15.2 innings, allowing 16 hits and six walks, striking out 11. In his two-year career, Logue has appeared in 27 games with five starts, owning a 3-2 record and a 4.81 ERA in 48.2 innings, saving one game with 35 strikeouts. McClure has appeared in eight games with six starts, tossing 35 innings and allowing only 15 hits and 10 walks, striking out 2

Last week, Kentucky (22-9, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) opened a four-game week with a rain-out of its Wednesday midweek tilt with Louisville, waiting until Friday to return to the diamond. UK posted a 3-2 win over Alabama on Friday in the series opener, behind a strong start from Zack Brown, a game-winning double from JaVon Shelby and a save from Sean Hjelle. UK then clinched the series on Saturday behind Dustin Beggs, who despite not allowing an earned run, took a no-decision as UK won in the bottom of the ninth inning on a walk-off grand slam from Riley Mahan, 6-2. Alabama then got a strong start from Nick Eicholtz to post a 2-1 win over UK in the finale, Kyle Cody turning in 7.1 innings, allowing just one earned run.

UK has won all four of its SEC series to open 2016, joining Mississippi State as the lone schools in the league to accomplish that feat. UK has series wins at Tennessee and Georgia, and home wins over No. 1 Florida and Alabama. The Wildcats sit in second place in the SEC standings through four of 10 weeks, tied with Mississippi State and Florida, and two games behind South Carolina. UK has played the third-fewest home games (19) in the SEC, behind only Tennessee (15) and Missouri (18), sporting a 15-4 record at The Cliff. UK’s 8-4 start to a season is the second-best in program history, just behind the 2012 club’s 9-3 start. UK has only started 8-4 or 9-3 four times in school history, including 1988, 1992 and 2016.

UK has hit .292/.376/.445 as a team, scoring 202 runs through 31 games, with 58 doubles, seven triples and 30 homers, stealing 31 of 38 bases. Defensively, UK has fielded .970, turning 20 double plays and throwing out eight of 20 would-be basestealers. On the mound, UK has a 3.83 ERA in 277 innings, allowing only 249 hits and 100 walks, striking out 246 and holding opponents to a .236 average.

At the plate for UK, junior OF Zach Reks has led the team with a .371 average, owning three doubles, one homer and eight RBI. Junior DH Gunnar McNeill has hit .363 with seven doubles, five homers and 33 RBI, sporting a .947 OPS. Sophomore 1B Evan White has hit .356 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and 28 RBI, stealing nine bases. Sophomore SS Riley Mahan has hit .315 with six doubles, two triples, four homers and 22 RBI, swiping five bases. Sophomore 2B Luke Becker has batted .282 with six doubles, one homer and 11 RBI and freshman OF Tristan Pompey owns a .259 average with five doubles, one triple, four homers and 22 RBI. Junior 3B JaVon Shelby has hit .255 with eight doubles, two triples and six homers, driving in 19 runs and stealing four bases. Freshman C Kole Cottam has a .255 average with three doubles, one homer and 12 RBI. Junior CF Storm Wilson has a .385 on-base percentage, serving as UK’s leadoff hitter, hitting .248 with nine doubles, one homer and six RBI.

UK has used the weekend rotation of junior righty Zack Brown (2-5, 6.39 ERA) on Friday, senior righty Dustin Beggs (2-5, 6.39 ERA) and senior right-hander Kyle Cody (3-2, 4.89 ERA) on Sunday.  In relief for the Wildcats, senior righty Zach Strecker (2-0, 0.42 ERA) has appeared in a team-leading 13 games, working 20.1 consecutive shutout innings. Freshman Justin Lewis (2-0, 0.43 ERA) has four saves in 11 games and freshman Sean Hjelle (2-0, 0.82 ERA) has five saves in 11 games. Lefties Logan Salow (1-0, 1.93 ERA), Zach Logue (1-0, 4.02 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 4.61 ERA) and Daniel Tillo (0-0, 6.00 ERA) have each appeared in at least seven games in relief.

Louisville (24-7, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) is in the midst of another strong season in its second year in the ACC. The Cardinals have hit .327/.417/.502 as a team through 31 games, scoring 259 runs, with 77 doubles, 13 triples and 29 homers, stealing 59 bases. Defensively, UofL has fielded .978, catching 12 runners stealing. On the mound, UL has a 2.91 ERA as a team with five saves in 275.1 innings, allowing only 207 hits and 110 walks, striking out 281 and holding opponents to a .210 average. The Cards are coming off a series setback at No. 5 Florida State and host Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.

The meeting on Wednesday will mark the third time Kentucky senior outfielder Dorian Hairston, and his younger brother, UofL sophomore shortstop Devin, will be meeting in competitive circumstances. Devin has started all 31 games up the middle for the Cards in 2016, hitting .378 with nine doubles, a homer and 26 RBI. Dorian has hit .300 as a senior with two homers and owns a .300 average in his career with six homers and 35 RBI.

Nick Solak leads the Cards with a .455 average with eight doubles, one triple, one homer and 15 RBI. Colby Fitch has hit .439 with four doubles, five homers and 18 RBI. Catcher Will Smith has hi t.391 with two homers and 17 RBI. Devin Mann, who has replaced Solak as an everyday player at second base after Solak suffered an injury, and has hit .373 with six doubles and 10 RBI. Blake Tiberi has hit .365 with 11 doubles, four homers and 30 RBI. Corey Ray is having a dynamic season in 2016, positioning himself in the discussion for the first position player to be picked in the 2016 MLB Draft. Ray has hit .331 with 10 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 38 RBI, stealing 28 of 33 bases. Brendan McKay, the nation’s top two-way player, has hit .306 with nine doubles, three homers and 17 RBI, posting a 6-1 record and a 2.09 ERA. In relief, junior flamethrower Zack Burdi has three saves and a 1-1 record and a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings,  allowing only five hits with 22 strikeouts.

A trio of Louisville stars joined Kentucky Coach Gary Henderson on the USA Collegiate National Team in 2015, including All-America outfielder Corey Ray, righty Zack Burdi and the nation’s top two-way talent, Brendan McKay.

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Louisville, 69-39-1, including a 33-15 record in games played in Lexington. Louisville swept the meetings last season and have won three consecutive in the series, after eliminating UK in the 2014 NCAA Louisville Regional Championship game. Since UK won the 2006 SEC Championship, the two teams have squared off in an epic rivalry each season, with UK winning 11 games and Louisville claiming 10 meetings.

In the two midweek meetings in 2015, Louisville swept the Wildcats. In the first meeting in the River City, Louisville claimed a 2-1 win in 10 innings, the fourth extra-inning meeting in the series since 2005. Louisville then swept the two-game series with a 5-2 win over the Wildcats in Lexington.

Records
Kentucky: 22-9, 8-4 SEC
Louisville: 24-7, 10-5 ACC

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) — Lexington, Ky.
Wednesday, April 13 * vs. No. 4 Louisville * 6:30 p.m. [SEC Network +]

Radio (UK Radio Network)
WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky

Internet Coverage
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Tentative Pitching Matchup
Wednesday vs. No. 6 Louisville
So., LHP Zach Logue (1-0, 4.02 ERA) vs. So., RHP Kade McClure (6-0, 2.31 ERA)

Stadium
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Leave a Reply