WKU wins fourth straight, 4-3 over Texas State

College Baseball

Western Kentucky University scored two runs in the eighth inning via bases loaded walks to take the lead and earn a 4-3 victory over Texas State. The Hilltoppers surrendered one run in the bottom of the eighth, but redshirt sophomore right-handed reliever Rye Davis recorded the final five outs for his second save of the season. Freshman left-handed starting pitcher Tanner Perkins allowed one run in four inning in his second start.

At the plate WKU was led by sophomore first baseman Casey Dykes, who was 3-5 with a run scored. Senior second baseman Matt Payton was 1-3 with a triple, a run scored and two RBI. Redshirt junior and Campbellsville transfer Brian Edelen earned the win in the first outing of his WKU career. (Box Sc0re)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Casey Dykes — The sophomore first baseman led the Hilltoppers with three hits and scored the go ahead run in the top of the eighth inning. Dykes is batting .381 with three runs scored and four RBI on the season.

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Paxton’s dad tells Herald-Leader Paxton will pitch in Indy Ball

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James Paxton; Photo: UK Athletics

James Paxton‘s father told Andy Mead of the Lexington Herald-Leader today that his son plans to pitch in an independent league before entering the Major League Baseball amateur players draft this summer. “He’s a very focused young man, and certainly Major League Baseball is his dream,” Ted Paxton told Mead from his home in Vancover, British Columbia. Mr. Paxton said James would have more to say through attorneys in the near future, likely Sunday. (Read more)

EKU rallies from down seven to win 12-9 over Western Car.

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Eastern Kentucky University rallied from down 8-1 in the fourth inning against Western Carolina to win 12-9 and earn its first victory of the season. Junior catcher Joey Stevens launched a go-ahead three run home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to give EKU the win. Senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando was 2-2 with a home run, two walks, a run scored and five RBI one day after launching two home runs in the season opener.

Preseason All-American third baseman Jayson Langfels was 2-4 with a home run, two runs scored and one RBI. Sophomore left-handed reliever Greg Terry earned the win with a scoreless eighth inning. Junior right-handed reliever Ryne Purcell recorded his first save with a scoreless ninth. EKU improved to 1-1 on the year. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Anthony Ottrando — Ottrando was 2-2 with a home run, run scored and five RBI in the game. The senior first baseman is 4-6 with three home runs, seven RBI and three runs scored in two games this season.

Murray State drops 1st of season with 8-3 loss to SDSU

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Murray State University dropped its first game of the season Saturday with a 8-3 loss to South Dakota State University despite a strong outing from redshirt junior left-handed starting pitcher Jake Donze. Donze allowed three runs in six innings and struck out 10 while walking two, but the Racers could only plate three runs in the game. A four-run SDSU ninth inning put the game out of reach. The loss dropped Murray State to 4-1 on the year.

At the plate BluGrass Baseball All-State first baseman Wes Cunningham was 4-5 with a home run, one run scored and one RBI. Freshman third baseman Colton Moore was 3-4 with a run scored. Senior left-handed reliver Matt McGaha pitched three innings in relief of Donze, but allowed four runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Jake DonzeOne could forgive Donze for feeling let down by the Racers offense after his second quality start of the season. Donze left the game trailing 3-2, but should have earned at least a no decision after striking out 10 in six innings. Instead, Donze fell to 1-1 on the year.

UK clinches series victory against Bowling Green

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UK Athletics Wallpaper

If the University of Kentucky was distracted by the news its ace had left the team, the Cats didn’t show it on the field Saturday in a 4-3 victory over Bowling Green State. UK freshman left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers, who moved to the rotation after James Paxton was held out of play, won his second career game in as many starts. Rogers held Bowling Green to one run on six hits in six inning. He struck out three and walked two. UK moved to 5-0 on the season and clinched a series victory against the Falcons.

Sophomore closer/designated hitter Braden Kapteyn entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning and allowed two inherited runners to score before inducing a groundout to end the game. At the plate the Cats were paced by another outstanding game from sophomore left fielder Chad Wright who was 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Wright has at least one hit in each of UK’s five games this season and has a six-game hitting streak dating back to 2009. Junior college transfer Lance Ray was 1-2 with a double, run scored and RBI in his first start for UK. (Box Sc0re)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Taylor Rogers — Rogers will make Cats fans forget James Paxton if he keeps pitching like this. In two games, Rogers is 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA and 12 hits allowed in 13.2 innings pitched. Rogers has just five strikeouts in his two starts, but induced seven groundouts and three double plays Saturday.

The day after: Paxton reaction from around Web

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The Web has exploded with reaction to BluGrass Baseball’s report of James Paxton leaving the UK team Friday. Here’s a sampling of some of the most interesting reaction:
  • Aaron Fitt of Baseball America writes Paxton is likely headed to independent ball.
  • Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com writes at least the drama is over.
  • Patrick Sullivan of the Lexington Herald-Leader also has a Paxton report.
  • Adam Revelette, former UK pitcher of Examiner.com, criticizes the NCAA for its position.
  • BluGrass Baseball contributor Rob Gidel has an open letter to Paxton on Kentuckysportsradio.com.

Friday Kentucky college baseball recap and awards

College Baseball
The big news of Friday was obviously James Paxton’s decision to leave the UK baseball team, but there was actually action on the field too. Kentucky division one teams finished the evening 4-2. Check out Aaron Fitt of Baseball America‘s excellent profile of the University of Louisville‘s new “Rollz Royse,” BluGrass Baseball’s pitcher of the day.
BluGrass Baseball Pitcher of Day: Thomas Royse — UofL
  • Stats: 1-0, 6 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 BB, 9 SO

BluGrass Baseball Hitter of Day: Anthony Ottrando — EKU

  • Stats: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI

Athletic Department Recaps

  • WKU Sports recaps the Hilltoppers win over Texas A&M.
  • UofL Sports recaps the Cards shutout of Michigan.
  • EKU has a recap of the loss to Western Carolina.
  • Murray State highlights a key defensive play in the Racers’ victory over South Dakota State.
  • Morehead State recaps its loss to Liberty.
  • UK Athletics recaps the Cats victory over Bowling Green State.

BREAKING NEWS: Paxton leaves UK

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James Paxton; Photo: UK Athletics

University of Kentucky left-handed starting pitcher James Paxton has officially left the team after his latest appeal of his lawsuit against the university was denied. Paxton was accused of violating the no-agent rule in his negotiations with the Toronto Blue Jays after being selected in the first supplemental round of the 2009 draft and had sued UK in an attempt to circumvent a meeting with NCAA investigators. UK head coach Gary Henderson told BluGrass Baseball the news after UK’s 6-4 victory over Bowling Green State Friday:

James has decided not to play with us. What I can tell you is the University of Kentucky and Gary Henderson have done everything they can to try and convince James to be a part of this baseball team. We wanted him to be a part of our club; he could certainly make us a better team. I think it would have been the best decision for him baseball wise, but he’s decided not to do that.”

I asked Henderson about the news’ effect on defacto ace Alex Meyer and whether he would face added pressure without Paxton. Henderson’s response:

Oh…I don’t know. Somebody’s going to have to [step up]. Maybe it’s Logan [Darnell] maybe it’s Alex [Meyer] maybe it’s Taylor Rogers. It clearly changes our bullpen. Somebody is going to start that would have been in the bullpen if James was here.”

UPDATE 9 p.m.: UK has released its official statement about Paxton’s decision:

The University of Kentucky is very disappointed in James Paxton’s decision to not meet with the NCAA about a potential amateurism issue. No one wanted James on the mound in a Kentucky uniform more than UK head coach Gary Henderson, athletics director Mitch Barnhart and the UK Athletics staff. Due to the possibility of future penalties, including forfeiture of games, UK could not put the other 32 players of the team and the entire UK 22-sport intercollegiate athletics department at risk by having James compete. It’s about the team and giving student-athletes the opportunity to achieve their goals. Throughout the process, UK has remained confident that James would be able to pitch for Kentucky during the 2010 season and UK offered every bit of assistance to aid James in that NCAA process.

UK does not know all the facts of last summer’s post-draft interaction among James, his advisors and the Toronto Blue Jays and has not prejudged his situation. James has an obligation under NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (j) to answer questions that relate to his amateur status. On advice of his counsel, James has elected not to be interviewed by the NCAA. UK has offered to pursue an immediate application for reinstatement for James with the NCAA if that became necessary. However, no request for reinstatement of his eligibility can be made based on mitigating circumstances until the student-athlete and his family cooperate and make all facts known to UK, with the NCAA having the opportunity to verify those facts. UK has never been provided all pertinent information from James and his family, who are following the legal advice of his attorneys not to be interviewed by the NCAA. Without knowing all the facts, UK cannot present mitigating circumstances to the NCAA on James’ behalf.

UK is more optimistic than James and his family that any period of ineligibility could be shortened to allow James to pitch during the last and most important part of the season, the Southeastern Conference schedule. So it is disappointing that James is unwilling to go through the normal NCAA process, allowing UK to appeal for him, if necessary. The University of Kentucky is sad to see James leave its baseball team, especially after other players gave up portions of their scholarships in August so that he would have a substantial scholarship for his senior year.

While UK is extremely disappointed in the decision made by James to not meet with the NCAA, he will always be a member of the Wildcat family. UK hopes that James will stay and earn his degree and wishes him the best in his professional baseball career. Should James change his mind and be willing to cooperate with the NCAA inquiry, the door is open for him to return to the UK baseball team and UK will seek any immediate appeal necessary for his reinstatement.”

UofL earns 5th straight win with 2-0 shutout of Michigan

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University of Louisville junior right-handed starting pitcher Thomas Royse allowed just two hits in six innings, and junior right-handed reliever Neil Holland was perfect in three innings out of the bullpen to lead the Cards to a 2-0 shutout of the University of Michigan. Royse struck out nine and walked just two in the two-hit victory.

At the plate senior second baseman Adam Duvall provided the Cards all the offense they needed with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Senior first baseman Andrew Clark also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Holland recorded his first save of the season. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Thomas Royse — Royse was almost unhittable Friday in six innings. The junior ace allowed two hits and two walks while striking out nine. On the season Royse is now 2-0 and still hasn’t given up an earned run in 11 innings. He has 14 strikeouts and two walks in 11 innings.

UK wins home opener 6-3 over Bowling Green

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Chad Wright; Photo: UK Athletics

The University of Kentucky used two home runs to jump to an early 5-1 lead and didn’t look back in winning its home opener 6-3 over Bowling Green State University. Sophomore left fielder Chad Wright and junior second baseman Chris Bisson each launched a two run home run for UK in the game. Senior center fielder Keenan Wiley and junior shortstop Taylor Black both drove home a single run on a sacrifice fly.

On the mound, UK ace sophomore right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer held BGSU to three runs in five and two-third innings to earn his second win of the season. Meyer struck out six and walked just one in the game. Junior right-handed reliever Matt Little loaded the bases in the ninth inning and allowed one run to score on a sac fly in relief of Meyer, but induced a groundout from Derek Spencer to earn the save. (Box Score)

BluGrass Baseball POG: Chad Wright — Wright’s two run blast in the third inning gave UK the lead for the first time, and the Cats didn’t look back from there. Wright finished the game 1-5 with a home run, one run scored and two RBI. Check back to BluGrass Baseball later for postgame coverage.