BluGrass Baseball made its Lexington radio debut Friday as a guest on Sports Nightly on 630 WLAP. I was a guest of The Cats Pause‘s Matt May, who was filling in for usual host Dick Gabriel. Click the link and fast forward to the 30 minute mark to hear our conversation about University of Kentucky baseball and the team’s outlook for the rest of the season. (Listen here)
The University of Kentucky has had a hard time scoring runs recently, so when the Cats plated eight runs against Western Kentucky University Tuesday, one would think that was a good thing. The Hilltoppers had other plans though with a 24-8 drubbing of UK, highlighted by a 16-run second inning. WKU junior catcher Matt Rice was 5-6 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored.
Sophomores Jared Andreoli, Kes Carter and Logan Robbins also homered for the Hilltoppers, and seniors Matt Payton and Jake Wells each tallied three hits. Redshirt junior Brian Edelen recorded the win after allowing one run in five innings. Andreoli drove in five runs and scored four times in the game.
There weren’t many highlights for UK as the Cats were down 18-0 before recording an out in the second inning, but junior designated hitter Lance Ray was 3-4 with a home run, two RBI and one run scored. The game marked Ray’s second consecutive three-hit effort. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns tallied two hits and three RBI. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: C Matt Rice — The junior catcher was 5-6 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored. Rice had a double and a home run in the 16-run second inning. On the season, Rice is batting .392 with nine home runs and 52 RBI.
Awards for week nine: (Keep in mind after the weekend’s offensive onslaught from Morehead State, the Eagles probably had six or seven candidates for the offensive award more deserving than any others in the state)
Player of the Week: SS Drew Lee (Morehead St.)
- Stats: 11-20 (.550), 5 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, 3 2B, 2 SB
- Honorable Mention: J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead), Cameron Flynn (Morehead), Taylor Davis (Morehead), Andrew Deeds (Morehead), Jacob Daniel (EKU), Anthony Ottrando (EKU), Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Andy Burns (UK), Andrew Clark (UofL), Kes Carter (WKU)
Pitcher of the Week: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
- Honorable Mention: Gabriel Shaw (UofL), Walter Wijas (UK), Taylor Rogers (UK), Matthew Robertson (Morehead), Trey Smith (Morehead)
Freshman of the Week: RHP Walter Wijas (UK)
- Stats: 2 G, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO
- Honorable Mention: Taylor Rogers (UK), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Cody Gibson (Morehead), Kyle Grieshaber (UofL), Ryan Huck (WKU)
- The University of Louisville (13) swept a Saturday double header from West Virginia with an 8-1 win in game one and a 12-9, 11-inning victory in game two. Senior first baseman Andrew Clark was 4-9 with a home run, six RBI and three runs scored in= the double-header. Right-handed ace Thomas Royse earned the win in game one with eight shutout innings of work. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM2)
- Western Kentucky University was swept in its double header Saturday against Florida Atlantic with a 5-4 loss in game one and a 9-8 loss in game two. WKU dropped all three games in the series. Sophomore outfielder Jared Andreoli and Kes Carter each recorded a three-hit game in the double header. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
- Morehed State University earned a key double-header sweep of in-state rival Eastern Kentucky University with a 20-8 win in game one and a 16-4 win in game two. Senior shortstop Drew Lee launched three home runs in game one, and sophomore catcher Taylor Davis was 8-10 with two home runs, 12 RBI and 3 runs scored on the afternoon. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
- The University of Florida clinched a series victory against the University of Kentucky with a 6-3 win Saturday. UK Sophomore second baseman Andy Burns was 2-3 with a home run, and freshman left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers took the loss after allowing four runs in six and two-third innings. (Box Score)
- Murray State University was swept in a Saturday double-header against SIU Edwardsville. The Breds wasted a three-run, six and one-third innings performance from Chris Craycraft in game one. Left fielder Elliot Frey was 3-3 in game two. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
Hitter of the Day: C Taylor Davis (Morehead St.)
- Stats: 8-10, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 3 R
- Honorable Mention: Andrew Clark (UofL), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Michael Fear (Morehead St.), Jayson Langfels (EKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Kes Carter (WKU), Andy Burns (UK)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
- Honorable Mention: RHP Matthew Robertson (Morehead St.), RHP Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), Taylor Rogers (UK), Rye Davis (WKU)
Friday was a winless day on the diamond for Kentucky colleges as one game was rained out and the other two scheduled affairs saw long rain delays and losses to Sunshine state teams. Check out recaps and awards from the abbreviated Friday schedule below:
- No. 19 Western Kentucky University was blown out 10-3 by Florida Atlantic in game one of a three-game series. Florida Atlantic broke open a three-all tie with five runs in the seventh inning. Sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins was 2-3 with two RBI for the Hilltoppers. Senior right-handed ace Matt Ridings took the loss after allowing six runs in six and two-third innings. (Box Score)
- The University of Kentucky suffered a 10-8 loss after Florida broke open a six-all tie with a three-run, seventh inning home run. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns and senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer both homered for UK, and four Cats tallied two hits. Lexington native Nick Maronde surrendered one run in one-third of an inning for Florida in his hometown return. (Box Score)
Hitter of the Day: C Marcus Nidiffer (UK)
- Stats: 2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R
- Honorable Mention: Andy Burns (UK), Logan Robbins (WKU)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Walter Wijas (UK)
- Stats: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
- Honorable Mention: Matt Ridings (WKU), Logan Darnell (UK)
The state’s three teams that have been ranked at some point this season were each in action Friday. The three teams went 2-1 on the day, but the highest ranked one lost its second in a row for the first time this season. Check out recaps and box scores of those games below:
- The University of Louisville (9) dropped its second game in a row with a 8-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The loss marked the first losing streak of the season for the Cards. Junior right-handed ace Thomas Royse lost his first decision of the season after surrendering six runs in six and one-third innings. Junior outfielder Drew Haynes was 2-4 with a run scored in the game. (Box Score)
- Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings recorded a complete game victory as Western Kentucky University (21) tallied a 13-3 win over Sun Belt Conference leader South Alabama. Ridings surrendered three runs on six hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts. Junior catcher Matt Rice and freshman designated hitter Ryan Huck each homered in the game. (Box Score)
- The University of Kentucky rallied for four runs in the eighth inning and to record a 7-6 win in game one of it series with No. 21 Alabama. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns launched two home runs in the game, and senior center fielder Keenan Wiley was 3-3 at the plate with a run scored. (Box Score)
Hitter of the Day: Matt Rice (WKU)
- Stats: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
- Honorable Mention: Ryan Huck (WKU), Matt Payton (WKU), Andy Burns (UK), Keenan Wiley (UK), Drew Haynes (UofL)
Pitcher of the Day: Matt Ridings (WKU)
- Stats: 1-0, 1 CG, 9 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 11 SO
- Honorable Mention: Matt Little (UK)
Player of the Day: 3B Andy Burns (UK)
- Stats: 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 Runs, 1 BB
- Honorable Mention: Gunner Glad (UK), Taylor Black (UK), Matt Payton (WKU), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Andrew Deeds (Morehead St.)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Jeff Arnold (Morehead St.)
- Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Phil Wetherell (WKU), Rye Davis (WKU)
Athletic Department Recaps
Western Kentucky University (17) rallied for a 6-3 win Tuesday against in-state rival University of Kentucky behind four hits from senior first baseman Jake Wells and three RBI from senior shortstop Matt Payton, but it was WKU’s sophomores than made the most interesting statement of the game. The Cats’ sophomore class has been counted on for production since it entered campus as the fourth-best recruiting class in the country in 2009, but as conference play gets underway one could easily argue that the unheralded Hilltopper sophomores are having a bigger impact on their team.
WKU’s second-year players are headlined by a pair of relative unknowns entering the 2010 season in outfielders Jared Andreoli and Kes Carter. Still doubtful of their importance in the WKU lineup? Just look to the sixth inning Tuesday when UK head coach Gary Henderson elected to intentionally walk Carter to load the bases with two outs and face preseason All-American Matt Rice. Andreoli leads the Hilltoppers with a .389 batting average, Carter ranks second at .387. Andreoli ranks second in the state with 39 runs scored and Carter ranks fourth in the state with 33 RBI.
Meanwhile UK’s heralded sophomores spent all of 2009 counted on to lead a team to the NCAA tournament, an amount of pressure that was probably unfair to place on a group of freshman. The class has been led by its least heralded member in outfielder Chad Wright, who ranks second on the team with a .349 average and 20 RBI. Slugger Cory Farris has shown his token power stroke in limited action this season with six home runs, but hasn’t been able to break out of the right-field platoon. Designated hitter, pitcher and first baseman Braden Kapteyn is batting .266, and third baseman Andy Burns, arguably the most highly touted position player to ever sign with UK, is batting just .237.
WKU sophomore infielder Casey Dykes is excelling to the rate of a .340 average and four home runs after starting ever game this season. On the mound sophomore relievers Tyler Gilliand and Craig Stem both have sub-3.00 ERAs and over ten appearances in 2010. Just sophomore relievers Phil Whetherell and Aaron Mayfield with their over-6.00 ERAs and sophomore infielder Logan Robbins with his under-.200 batting average have struggled this season.
UK’s sophomore pitchers have enjoyed at least mixed success in 2010. Right-handed starting pitcher Alex Meyer, arguably the most talented pitcher in the state, has four wins but has struggled with his control to the tune of a 6.15 ERA. Sometime midweek starter Sean Bouthilette has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings after a stellar six-inning performance Tuesday. Kapteyn hasn’t given up an unearned run in 6.2 innings this season, and righty Chase Greene pitched a scoreless inning in his only performance this year. Heralded catcher Michael Williams now finds himself in a battle for the backup time with freshman Luke Maile.
You can’t quite chalk up the success of the WKU incoming class of 2009 to inferior competition either. The Hilltoppers currently have more wins (2) against Southeastern Conference opponents than the Cats (1). The UK incoming class of 2009 has had the spotlight shined on it since its members reportedly made a pact to not sign professional contracts when drafted out of high school unless they received first-round money. I wrote my first feature about them just weeks after fall classes started their freshman year, but so far performance hasn’t quite matched up to the hype. The common thinking goes that the Cats have struggled because they are young, but they aren’t that young anymore. Just ask the sophomores to the west in Bowling Green.
The University of Kentucky became the second Kentucky school to win at least 10 games Tuesday after a 7-1 victory over Evansville. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns was 2-5 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored. Senior first baseman Gunner Glad, senior center fielder Keenan Wiley, sophomore designated hitter Braden Kapteyn and sophomore catcher Michael Williams each had two hits in the game. Freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper was credited with his first career victory after allowing one run in four innings.
Redshirt junior right-handed reliever Nick Kennedy earned the save after pitching three scoreless innings in his season debut. The appearance marked Kennedy’s return from injury. Junior shortstop Taylor Black drove in two runs for the Cats, and junior right-handed reliever Kyle Jackson pitched two scoreless innings out of the pen. UK improved to 10-1 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Nick Kennedy — While Andy Burns delievered the big blow of the game with his home run, the return of Kennedy to the mound gives UK another viable weapon in the pen. When grouped with Matt Little and Kapteyn, the submarine rigthy Kennedy gives UK much needed bullpen depth. His scoreless three inning performance should be a shot in the arm for the Cats, who lost All-American Chris Bisson to injury last weekend.
UofL, EKU and WKU are all in action this afternoon. Here are some morning links to tide you over until first pitch:
- Western Kentucky University senior right-handed ace Matt Ridings was named Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the week.
- University of Kentucky Athletics recaps the 5-2 victory over Morehead State.
- The Morehead athletic department also has its take on the game.
- Ben Jones of the Kentucky Kernel talked to Gary Henderson, Andy Burns and Matt Little after the game
- WKU sports recaps its 14-7 victory over Austin Peay.
- Murray State sports recaps the Racers’ 8-6 loss to Belmont.
- Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports 2009 and like 2010 Louisville Bat Yonder Alonso is trying to learn different positions.
- Bats tickets went on sale this morning.