BluGrass Baseball Week Seven Weekend Preview

College Baseball

Corey Littrell; BluGrass Baseball photo

It’s time for the week seven weekend preview. Check out storylines to watch in week seven games for Kentucky DI colleges and players below:

Matchup of the week: University of Kentucky @ South Carolina (3)

After being swept by Alabama in week five the Southeastern Conference schedule gets even more difficult in week six for UK with a trip to No. 3 South Carolina. The Cats are 2-4 in SEC play and 15-11 on the season, while South Carolina is 4-2 in conference play and 19-5 on the season. Preseason All-America Jackie Bradley Jr. is batting just .303 for the Gamecocks but has six home runs, 22 RBI and 25 runs scored on the season. Friday starting pitcher Michael Roth is 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA in seven games for South Carolina this season. South Carolina is coming off a series victory against then No. 1 Florida.

Player to watch: LHP Corey Littrell (UK)

UK freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell will make his first Southeastern Conference start this weekend when he takes sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper‘s usual Saturday start. Littrell has excelled as a starter this season, going 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five midweek starts. On Tuesday he earned the win after surrendering two hits in three shutout innings while striking out three batters and walking none versus Tennessee tech. Littrell has struggled in a bullpen role with an 0-1 record and 24.30 ERA in three relief appearances.

Stat of the week: University of Louisville already has six shutouts

UofL’s pitching staff has been stingy with runs this season, boasting a 4.17 staff ERA and six shutouts. The six shutouts are already the second most in one season in school history. The Cards have shutout Xavier, Pepperdine, Kent State, Minnesota and Ohio State this season and have at least one shutout in four of the team’s seven series this season. On Tuesday UofL held Western Kentucky University to one run, marking the 17th time in 24 games the team had held its opponent to two or fewer runs.

Out-of-state player to watch: LHP Nick Maronde (Florida, Lexington Catholic)

No out-of-state Kentucky collegians face a Kentucky college this weekend, so we give you an out-of-state player to watch instead. Florida junior left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde, who is a Lexington Catholic alum, has been a valuable weapon out of the Gators’ bullpen this season. In 12 games Maronde has yet to record a decision but boasts a 2.45 ERA and one save. Maronde has struck out 23 batters and walked just three in 14 and two-third innings. Opponents are batting .246 against the southpaw this season. No. 4 Florida is 4-2 in SEC play and welcomes Tennessee to town this weekend.

Kentuckians on MLB Opening Day rosters

Major League Baseball

You can always see the list of Kentucky MLB players on the “Ky. in the Majors” page here, but with Opening Day upon us I thought it would be a good idea to post the list on the home page. Check out the Kentuckians starting the 2011 season on MLB rosters below:

National League

  • RHP Aaron Cook — Born in Ft. Campbell — Colorado Rockies (15-day DL)
  • C A. J. Ellis — PLD — Los Angeles Dodgers
  • OF Corey Hart — Greenwood HS — Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL)
  • 2B Dan Uggla — Born in Louisville — Atlanta Braves
  • RHP Joe Blanton — Franklin-Simpson HS, UK — Philadelphia Phillies
  • LHP Jonny Venters — Born in Pikeville — Atlanta Braves
  • RHP Sean Green — Male HS, UofL — Milwaukee Brewers
  • LHP Trever Miller — St. X HS — St. Louis Cardinals
  • RHP Tyler Clippard — Born in Lexington — Washington Nationals

American League

  • OF Austin Kearns — Lafayette HS — Cleveland Indians
  • RHP Brandon Webb — Paul Blazer HS, UK — Texas Rangers (15-day DL)
  • RHP Jon Rauch — Oldham Co. HS, Morehead St. — Toronto Blue Jays
  • RHP Josh Lueke — Scott HS, NKU — Seattle Mariners*
  • 3B Mark Reynolds — Born in Pikeville — Baltimore Orioles
  • RHP Nathan Adcock — North Hardin HS — Kansas City Royals*
  • LHP Scott Downs — PRP, UK — Los Angeles Angels (15-day DL)
  • RHP Shawn Kelley — Ballard HS — Seattle Mariners (60-day DL)

* — Lueke and Adcock are MLB rookies and will make their MLB debuts with first appearance in 2011.

WKU loses to Belmont; Ellis to open season with Dodgers

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

A. J. Ellis; Photo by frankat1stbase3 via Flickr

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball with a recap from Wednesday’s lone college baseball game:

  • Western Kentucky University surrendered two runs in the top of the 10th inning and the team’s rally in the bottom of the inning fell just short in a 9-8 loss to Belmont. Freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman took the loss after surrendering two unearned runs in one inning. Senior third baseman Casey Dykes was 3-4 with three RBI and one run scored, and senior designated hitter Matt Rice slugged his third home run of the season. Junior center fielder Kes Carter was 2-4 with three runs scored. (Box Score)
  • Quinn Roberts of reports PLD alum A. J. Ellis won the last spot on the Dodgers roster after Jay Gibbons was forced to start the season on the disabled list.
  • Chuck Jones of The News-Enterprise reports Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock is “on top of the world” after being selected to open the season in the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen.
  • Nick Jones of the Northerner, the student newspaper of Northern Kentucky University, reports Bill Aker, the first baseball coach at NKU, died Saturday.

Lueke will open season with Mariners; Blanton on SI cover

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Sports Illustrated cover

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports the Mariners have informed Highland Heights native and former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke he will open the season in the MLB bullpen.
  • Colin Fly of The Associated Press reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart is secure with his spot with the Brewers following his breakout 2010 season and contract extension.
  • Dennis Punzel of reports Louisville native and former UofL right-handed pitcher Sean Green may be in danger of losing his spot on the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster when a few pitchers return from injury.
  • Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal recaps the University of Louisville‘s 3-1 win over Western Kentucky University, noting the Cards’ freshmen batters were able to contribute unlike they have through most of the season.
  • Former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton and the rest of the Phillies’ starting rotation appear on the cover, right, of Sports Illustrated this week.

Spring roundup: Green finishes Spring Training with win

Major League Baseball

Sean Green; Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Stats and highlights from Kentucky players on the final full day of Spring Training:

  • Louisville native and former UofL right-handed pitcher Sean Green earned the win after striking out two batters in one scoreless inning for the Milwaukee Brewers and finished the spring at 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA.
  • PLD alum A. J. Ellis walked in his only plate appearance for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Coastal Carolina senior first baseman Rich Witten, a Danville High School alum, was 0-3 with one walk in an exhibition game versus the Texas Rangers.
  • Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard, who was born in Lexington, struck out two batters in a scoreless inning versus the Mets.
  • Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville, was 1-3 versus the Minnesota Twins.
  • In that same game Braves left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters, who was born in Pikeville, struck out one batter in a scoreless inning.
  • Baltimore Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds, who was born in Pikeville, was 1-3 with one walk versus the Blue Jays.

College roundup: UofL wins intra-state game vs. WKU; UK, Murray St., Morehead St. win midweek games; EKU loses

College Baseball

Taylor Black; UK Athletics Photo

Recaps and highlights from Tuesday Kentucky college baseball action:

  • You can read the BluGrass Baseball recap of the University of Louisville‘s 3-1 win over Western Kentucky University here.
  • The University of Kentucky scored eight unanswered runs to start the game and then held off a late Tennessee Tech rally to secure an 11-8 win. Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell earned the win after surrendering two hits in three scoreless innings while striking out three batters and walking none. Senior shortstop Taylor Black was 4-4 with two doubles and four runs scored, and junior designated hitter Braden Kapteyn was 3-5 with two RBI and one run scored. Sophomore catcher Luke Maile slugged his second home run of the season and drove in three runs, and freshman second baseman J. T. Riddle was 2-3 with three RBI and one run scored. (Box Score)
  • Marshall scored three runs in the ninth inning to send Eastern Kentucky University to an 8-5 loss at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Junior right-handed pitcher Matt Harris took the loss after surrendering three unearned runs on two hits in two innings while striking out three batters and walking none. Senior designated hitter Bryce Labhart was 2-2 with one walk and two runs scored for EKU, and junior right fielder Michael Garcia was 2-3 with two RBI. Junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez also had two RBI in the game. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University jumped out to an early lead and held on for a rain-shortened 5-2 win in five innings over Southern Illinois. Junior left-handed pitcher Bryan Babin earned the win after surrendering two runs, one of which was earned on five hits in five innings while striking out two batters and walking three. Redshirt freshman Ty Stetson was 2-2 with one walk, one RBI and one run scored, and sophomore shortstop Brandon Elliott was 2-3 with one RBI and one run scored. Senior center fielder Elliot Frey scored two runs. (Box Score)
  • Morehead State University scored two runs in the eighth inning to secure a 6-5 win over West Virginia. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider earned the win after recording the final two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and junior right-handed pitcher Matt Cartwright recorded the final six outs of the game without recording an out to earn the save. Junior center fielder Andrew Deeds was 2-5 with one RBI and two runs scored, and junior catcher Eric Bainer was 2-4 with three RBI and one run scored. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: SS Taylor Black (UK)

  • Stats: 4-4, 2 2Bs, 4 R, 1 BB
  • Honorable Mention: Alex Chittenden (UofL), Jared Andreoli (WKU), Braden Kapteyn (UK), J. T. Riddle (UK), Luke Maile (UK), Ty Stetson (Murray St.), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Bryce Labhart (EKU), Eric Bainer (Morehead St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Jeff Thompson (UofL)

  • Stats: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Corey Littrell (UK), Bryan Babin (Murray St.), Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Noah Smallwood (Morehead St)

UofL surrenders just four hits in 3-1 win over WKU

College Baseball

The University of Louisville scored single runs in the seventh an eighth innings to break open a 1-1 tie en route to a 3-1 win over Western Kentucky University. UofL took the lead in the seventh inning when freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden singled home freshman pinch runner Adam Engel. The Cards added an insurance run in the eighth inning when freshman center fielder Cole Sturgeon scored on a sacrifice fly from junior second baseman Ryan Wright. UofL junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self earned the win after pitching one and one-third scoreless innings, and junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych earned his seventh save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

WKU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when sophomore first baseman Ryan Huck singled home junior right fielder Ryan Hutchinson. WKU Sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel took the loss after surrendering two runs in two innings of relief. Junior right-handed pitcher Phil Wetherell surrendered one run on two hits in four innings while striking out five batters and walking none in his first start of the season. WKU junior left fielder Jared Andreoli was the only Hilltopper with multiple hits and finished the game 2-5. UofL freshman third baseman Ty Young was 2-4 with a run scored, and Chittenden was 2-3 with one RBI. (Box Score)

Player of the game: RHP Jeff Thompson (UofL) — 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO

BluGrass Baseball Pitching Leaderboard: March 29


In the second weekly leaderboard post we’ll look at the top pitching statistics through six weeks of the college baseball season. To be eligible for the ERA and batting average against categories, pitchers must have at least one inning per team game. Eligible players attend a Kentucky college or graduated from a Kentucky high school. Stats are current through Sunday’s games.


  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 0.65 (41.2 IP)
  • Chad Martin — Indiana (PLD) — 2.05 (30.2 IP)
  • Mike Nastold — UofL — 2.10 (25.2 IP)
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 2.45 (40.1 IP)
  • Alex Meyer — UK — 3.05 (41.1 IP)


  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 5-0
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 5-1
  • Jeremy Dobbs — Austin Peay (Daviess Co. HS) — 5-0
  • Justin Hageman — WKU — 4-2
  • Seven players tied with three wins.


  • Alex Meyer — UK — 54
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 35
  • Jeremy Dobbs — Austin Peay (Daviess Co. HS) — 34
  • Justin Hageman — WKU — 33
  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 30
  • Damon McCormick — Valpo (St. X) — 30

Innings Pitched

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — 41.2
  • Alex Meyer — UK — 41.1
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — 40.1
  • Damon McCormick — Valpo (St. X HS) — 39.2
  • Tyler Beers — Murray St. — 36.0


  • Tony Zych — UofL — 6
  • Mike Kaczmarek — UK — 4
  • Rye Davis — WKU — 3
  • Ross Hammonds — WKU — 3
  • Cameron Finch — Murray St. — 3

Batting Average Against

  • Justin Amlung — UofL — .168
  • Brandon Boling — Gardner Webb (Bryan Station HS) — .180
  • Tanner Perkins — WKU — .204
  • Alex Meyer — UK — .214
  • Chad Martin — Indiana (PLD) — .221


  • Tyler Hieneman — Morehead St. — 12
  • Ross Hammonds — WKU — 12
  • Phil Wetherell — WKU — 12
  • Nick Maronde — Florida (Lexington Catholic) — 11
  • Matt Harris — EKU — 11
  • Matthew Robertson — Morehead St. — 11
  • Matt Cartwright — Morehead St. — 11

John Shelby, Marcus Nidiffer change MLB organizations


John Shelby; Photo: UK Athletics

The Chicago White Sox today traded Lexington native and former UK outfielder John Shelby Jr. to the Tampa Bay Rays for future considerations, Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. Shelby batted .249 with 11 home runs, 43 RBI and 63 runs scored in 111 games for AA Birmingham in 2010. He stole 15 bases on the season. The White Sox selected Shelby in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB draft.

Meanwhile, former UK catcher Marcus Nidiffer was released by the Houston Astros and signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels, according to Brent Ingram of the UK media relations department. Nidiffer, who spend most of his time at first base during his professional debut, signed with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent following his senior season at UK in 2010. He batted .286 with 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored in 69 games between rookie-level Greeneville and short-season Tri-City. Nidiffer was poised to become the first UK alum to play for the Lexington Legends before his release.

Ijames, Davis earn conference weekly honors; Adcock wins Royal’s bullpen job; Downs, Hart hope for April returns

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Taylor Davis; Morehead St. photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • University of Louisville redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames was named the Big East Conference player of the week.
  • Morehead State University junior catcher Taylor Davis was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the week.
  • Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star reports Elizabethtown native Nathan Adcock, a Rule 5 Draft pick, will open the season in the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen.
  • Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA lists the UofL and Western Kentucky University among the 25 teams to watch outside of the website’s top 25 ranking.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times reports Louisville native and former UK left-handed pitcher Scott Downs threw off a mound on Monday for the first time since breaking his left big toe in March and hopes to return by mid-April.
  • Adam McCalvy of reports Bowling Green native Corey Hart hopes to return from his strained rib-cage muscle in time for the Brewers series versus the Cubs April 8-10.
  • Richard Durrett of reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb was pleased with his Monday bullpen session.
  • Jeff Schuler of The Morning Call profiles Louisville native Matt Anderson who hopes to continue his comeback with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.