We’re trying something new at BluGrass Baseball this collegiate season with a weekend preview post. You will still get the full weekend schedule later this afternoon, but for now check out a few storylines to watch for the next three days of college baseball.
Matchup of the weekend — University of Kentucky @ No. 20 College of Charleston
UK will waste no time in getting a chance to prove its batch of newcomers can help put 2010 behind coach Gary Henderson and his team with a matchup against a top 25 team on opening night. College of Charleston sends ace David Peterson, who was 8-3 with a 5.30 ERA in 2010, to the mound against UK sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper, who was 4-5 with a 5.71 ERA last season. Six starters return to CofC’s lineup that ranked seventh nationally with 9.1 runs per game last season.
Newcomer to watch — Tyler Beers — Murray State University
In somewhat of a surprise Murray St. will turn to junior-college transfer Tyler Beers in its opening day matchup at UNC Asheville. Beers is the first newcomer to get an opening day start for Murray St. since UK transfer Kalen Gibson did so in 2006. Beers was just 2-7 with a 6.12 ERA in 2010 at Mineral Area College, so he must have done something impressive during early practices with Murray St. to earn the opening start. He did strike out 55 batters and walk 20 in 64 and two-third innings pitched last season.
Home cooking — Western Kentucky University
The Hilltoppers are the only Kentucky Division I school opening at home this weekend. WKU welcomes Bowling Green State to Bowling Green, Ky., for a three-game series, and will turn to sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins, sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel and freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman in its weekend rotation. You will have to forgive the Hilltoppers if they are a little jealous of the other Kentucky schools, which open in places like Malibu, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; and St. Petersburg, Fla..
Tournament watch — University of Louisville (Big East/Big Ten Challenge)
UofL probably gets its most difficult non-conference weekend series out of the way early with the Big East/Big Ten Challenge this weekend. The Cards send sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch to the mound versus Michigan Friday on opening night. On Saturday UofL will send redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung to the mound versus Ohio State, and on Sunday UofL will send redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold to the mound versus Minnesota for his first start since 2009. None of the three Big Ten teams are ranked in Baseball America‘s preseason top 25, but the magazine did pick Minnesota to win the conference.
Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. colleges — Casey Lucchese (CofC), Louie Helmburg (Marshall)
UK will face a pair of former Kentucky high school starts in its weekend appearance at the College of Charleston Invitational in Paul Laurence Dunbar alum Case Lucchese and West Jessamine alum Louie Helmburg. Lucchese, a senior right-handed pitcher, will serve as CofC’s closer after turning down the Chicago Cubs as the team’s 39th round pick in the 2010 draft. Helmburg, a freshman catcher, will serve as a backup for Marshall and will probably have to hope for an at-bat off the bench if he is to face his hometown team.