NCAA roundup: UofL wins rubber match; EKU avoids sweep; WKU, UK, Murray St., Morehead St. lose finales

College Baseball

Jacob Daniel; BluGrass Baseball photo

Recaps and highlights from Sunday Kentucky college baseball action:

  • Western Kentucky University suffered its first Sun Belt Conference series loss after dropping its finale 11-6 to UALR Sunday. Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Brian Edelen took the loss after surrendering six runs on six hits in three innings while striking out four batters and walking two. Senior catcher Matt Rice slugged two home runs, drove in four runs and scored twice in the game. Freshman shortstop Scott Wilcox was the only other Hilltopper with multiple hits after finishing the game 2-3 with one walk. (Box Score)
  • The University of Louisville secured a series victory versus West Virginia with a 6-3 win. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold earned the win after surrendering two unearned runs on three hits in five and one-third innings while striking out five batters and walking two. Freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner was 3-4 with one double, two RBI and one run scored, and freshman first baseman Ryan Seiz was 2-3 with one double, one triple and two runs scored. Junior right-handed reliever Derek Self struck out five batters in two and two-third scoreless innings. (Box Score)
  • The University of Kentucky dropped its sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference game with a 4-1 loss to No. 3 South Carolina. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers took the loss after surrendering three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits in six and one-third innings while striking out five batters and walking three. Junior Michael Williams, making his first career start at third base, was 2-3 with one walk. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University tallied 17 hits and scored 13 runs but could not finish the series sweep of UT Martin after a 14-13 loss. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Ben Lady took the loss after surrendering one unearned run in two-third of an inning, but UT Martin did most of its damage against freshman closer Cameron Finch, who surrendered six runs while recording just two outs. Sophomore shortstop Brandon Elliott was 4-5 with one RBI and three runs scored. Junior second baseman Travis Isaak and redshirt freshman left fielder Ty Stetson were both 3-6. Junior catcher Jacob Rhodes and junior first baseman Cody Larson both homered in the game. (Box Score)
  • Eastern Kentucky University avoided a series sweep at the hands of Southeast Missouri with an 11-5 win. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephen Hefler earned the win after surrendering three runs on nine hits in six innings while striking out five batters and walking two. Junior left fielder Jacob Daniel was 3-4 with two home runs, four RBI and two runs scored, and junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez was 2-3 with one home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Freshman third baseman Bryan Soloman was 3-4 with two runs scored. (Box Score)
  • Morehead State University could not avoid a series sweep by SIU Edwardsville with a 15-9 loss. Freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood took the loss after surrendering seven runs, three of which were earned, on nine hits in four and two-third innings. Junior right fielder Luke Bainer was 3-4 with one home run, one RBI and two runs scored. Junior catcher Taylor Davis and junior catcher Eric Bainer also homered in the game. Eric Bainer added a double, two RBI and two runs. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: LF Jacob Daniel (EKU)

  • Stats: 3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
  • Honorable Mention: Matt Rice (WKU), Jeff Gardner (UofL), Ryan Seiz (UofL), Michael Williams (UK), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Ty Stetson (Murray St.), Travis Isaak (Murray St.), Richie Rodriguez (EKU), Bryan Soloman (EKU), Luke Bainer (Morehead St.), Eric Bainer (Morehead St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Mike Nastold (UofL)

  • Stats: 1-0, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Derek Self (UofL), Taylor Rogers (UK), Stephen Hefler (EKU)

Offseason position battle: Murray St. starting pitchers

College Baseball

In the fifth Murray State University post of the “offseason position battle series we will look at the vacant weekend starting pitching slots.

The departed — Right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft, a 2010 senior, served as the Murray State ace for each of the last two seasons, being named second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference following the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Craycraft was 6-4 with a 5.05 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, for the Breds in 2010. The Lexington native struck out 72 batters and walked 35 in 92 and two-third innings pitched…Right-handed pitcher Alex Love, a 2010 senior, was 8-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 19 games, including eight starts, for the Breds last season. Love struck out 35 batters and walked 23 in 70 and one-third innings pitched…Right-handed pitchers Marc Harmon and Dan Huff, both 2010 seniors, combined to make 13 starts for Murray St. last season but neither finished the year with an ERA below 8.35.

Returning candidates — Senior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze made 16 starts for Murray St. in 2010 and finished the season at 6-6 with a 6.02 ERA. Donze struck out 71 batters and walked 56 in 83.2 innings pitched and enters 2011 as the Breds de facto ace…Sophomore right-handed pitchers Joe Major, Will Handlin, and Ben Lady each made one start for Murray St. in 2010. Major was the only returning Murray St. pitcher to finish 2010 with a sub-4.00 ERA, but he logged just 10 innings pitched on the season.

Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Bryan Babin pitched four shutout innings in the decisive game of the Murray St. Fall World Series. Babin, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 39 innings pitched as a sophomore at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College…Junior college transfer Luke Shuemaker, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 4-2 with a 5.15 ERA in 50 and two-third innings pitched for Rend Lake College in 2010…Junior college transfer Mark Roberts, a junior left-handed pitcher, was 5-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 55 innings pitched for Lincoln Trail College in 2010…Freshman left-handed pitchers Kyle Cornett and Brock Downey were both named first-team all-state as a seniors by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association…Freshman right-handed pitcher Cameron Finch was named first-team all state as a senior in Collierville, Tenn., and pitched eight complete games and two no-hitters in 2010.

Wildcard — The Breds have no shortage of starting pitcher candidates as head coach Rob McDonald brought in nine new pitchers to the 2011 pitching staff. Junior Tyler Beers, a junior college transfer, may be needed to man the vacant first base position for the Breds, but he also logged experience as a right-handed pitcher at Mineral Area college. Beers was 2-7 with a 6.12 ERA as a sophomore, but proved to be an innings eater after striking out 55 in 64 and two-third innings pitched.

BluGrass Baseball Wednesday Review: Week 11

College Baseball
Recaps from Tuesday action on the diamond:
  • Murray State University gave No. 14 Mississippi everything it could handle, but the Rebels defeated the Breds 11-10 in 10 innings. Senior first baseman Wes Cunningham homered and drove in four runs, and senior right fielder Daniel Hill tallied three hits in the game. Redshirt freshman reliever Will Handlin took the loss after surrendering a walkoff home run in the 10th. (Box Score)
  • Freshman right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson picked up his first career victory in Morehead State University‘s 3-2 win over Marshall. Gibson surrendered just two hits and one walk in four and two-third innings. Sophomore third baseman Andrew Deeds was 3-3 with two runs scored, and senior designated hitter Michael Bottoms scored the Eagles other run. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: 3B Andrew Deeds (Morehead St.)

  • Stats: 3-3, 2 R
  • Honorable Mention: Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Daniel Hill (Murray St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Cody Gibson (Morehead St.)

  • Stats: 1-0, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Ben Lady (Murray St.), Jeff Arnold (Morehead St.)