Offseason position battle: UofL weekend starting pitcher

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In the second University of Louisville post in the “Offseason position battle” series we will look at the two vacant weekend starting pitcher slots:

The departed: Big East pitcher of the year Thomas Royse has moved on to professional ball after going 9-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 starts for the Cards in 2010. Royse, who was the third-supplemental round pick of the Chicago White Sox, struck out 99 batters and walked just 26 in 104.1 innings pitched last season. Left-handed pitcher Dean Kiekhefer made 10 starts for UofL in 2010 before moving to professional ball as the 36th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch finished the 2010 season as a weekend starter and is likely to begin 2011 in the same position. UofL returns several mid-week starters from 2010 and welcomes a plethora of talented freshman so there is no shortage of candidates for the vacant weekend starting slot.

Returning candidates: Redshirt sophomore Justin Amlung is the only returning Card who made at least 10 starts last season and is likely a favorite to slide into one of weekend starting slots. Amlung was 5-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 2010…Senior right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw pitched mostly out of the bullpen for UofL in 2011, but held his own in three starts. On the season Shaw was 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA but was 1-1 in three starts, highlighted by a seven-inning, one-run performance against West Virginia…Junior Derek Self was 7-0 with a 4.52 ERA in 27 games including eight starts for UofL in 2010. This summer he was named a Cape Cod League All-Star after going 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA for the Chatham Anglers…Koch, Shaw, Amlung and junior right-handed pitcher Travis Tingle each received at least one start during the fall Pizza Bowl series…After missing all of 2010 with an injury redshirt sophomore Mike Nastold made two starts during the Pizza Bowl. Nastold made six starts as a freshman in 2009.

Newcomers to watch: Freshman right-handed pitcher Dace Kime was the eighth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010 an arrives at UofL after receiving All-American honors as a senior at Defiance High School in Ohio. As a senior Kime was 7-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 108 strikeouts…Freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green was the 37th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 draft after going 9-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 107 strikeouts as a senior at Effingham High School in Illinois…Freshman right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson pitched four and two-third scoreless innings in a Pizza Bowl start during fall practice…Freshman left-handed pitcher Cody Edge boasted a miniscule 0.97 ERA as a senior at Cherokee Washington High School in Iowa and allowed one run in three and two-third innings during the Pizza Bowl.

Wildcard: Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych was recently rated the No. 25 college draft prospect by Baseball America. Zych has enjoyed most of his college success as a reliever but did make five starts for UofL to begin the 2010 season. That experiment was an unmitigated failure but head coach Dan McDonnell may not be able to resist trying such a talent in the rotation again. Zych was named a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer and received the league’s postseason best pro prospect and best relief pitcher awards.

McDonnell suspended; Ridings set for surgery; Baseball America releases Kentucky draft preview

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Matt Ridings; WKU Photo

A few important notes to pass along on a Wednesday evening:

  • Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings will undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday, clouding his draft prospects. Ridings confirmed the operation via Twitter to BluGrass Baseball, and we wish him all the best in his recovery as he works toward a professional career.
  • No. 9 University of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell was suspended for three games for his argument with an umpire in the Big East Conference tournament. McDonnell will miss the first three games of the NCAA tournament, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reports.
  • Baseball America is releasing its state-by-state draft previews, and now Jim Callis has published the Kentucky preview. The piece should be mandatory reading for Kentucky baseball fans and is worth the price of the BA subscription. Callis ranks 25 state draft prospects and includes five high schoolers among a plethora of college bats.

UofL clinches second consecutive Big East title

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No. 11 University of Louisville clinched its second consecutive Big East Conference championship with a double-header sweep of Notre Dame Saturday. The Cards took defeated the Fighting Irish 13-3 in game two to secure the regular season championship after a 4-3 win in game one.

“One of our biggest goals for this season was to win the BIG EAST regular season title and we were able to do that,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell, who is now 181-73 in his fourth season with two BIG EAST regular season titles and two BIG EAST Tournament titles, said in a news release. “We have so much respect for this league, as well as the coaches and players in it. Anytime you can win the regular season title, that is a huge accomplishment and I’m very proud of these guys because it’s never easy. Now, we’ll turn our focus to the post-season, and hopefully, even more great things for this program.”

Senior shortstop Adam Duvall was 5-9 on the afternoon with two home runs, three runs scored and six RBI. Freshman designated hitter Cade Stallings had his best performance of the season with a 3-3 performance in game two. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright also homored in game one. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung earned the championship-clinching victory with six shutout innings in game two. Junior right-handed reliever Gabriel Shaw earned the game-one win. (Box Score GM1) (Box Score GM 2)

Ky. players on Rivals.com week nine power rankings

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Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports has released the latest updated of his always insightful weekly position-by-position NCAA power rankings, and as usual, several Kentucky players made the cut. I’ve listed them below, but you should also follow the link to read Rogers’ entire rankings. (Read more)

Third Base

  • 1 —  Zack Cox — Arkansas (PRP)
  • 6 — Jayson Langfels — Eastern Kentucky University

Middle Infield

  • 8 — Drew Lee — Morehead State University

First Base

  • 10 — Wes Cunningham — Murray State University

Catcher

  • 8 — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University

Head Coach

  • 7 — Dan McDonnell — University of Louisville

Kentucky players in Rivals.com week 8 power rankings

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Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports has released his latest weekly position-by-position college baseball power rankings and, as usual, several Kentucky players were included on the lists. I have listed the Kentucky players below, but check out the entire rankings here.

Third Base

  • 1) Zack Cox — Arkansas (PRP)
  • 5) Jayson LangfelsEastern Kentucky University
  • 9) Phil WunderlichUniversity of Louisville

Middle Infield

  • 7) Ryan Wright — UofL
  • 8) Drew LeeMorehead State University

First Base

  • 9) Andrew Clark — UofL

Catcher

  • 10) Matt RiceWestern Kentucky University

Head Coach

  • 4) Dan McDonnell — UofL

Emptying the UK/UofL notebook: Zych to pen, Glad miffed over hit-by-pitch after home run

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You can read my full recap of the University of Kentucky 5-0 shutout over the University of Louisville in the post below, but there were plenty of notes from the game and post-game interviews that didn’t fit in the story. So I thought I’d break those nuggets down in a notebook post:

  • UofL coach Dan McDonnell said you should expect to see more of sophomore Tony Zych out of the bullpen like Tuesday: “He’s struggled a little bit here. He’s been starting for us on Sunday, we feel like we’re going to push him to the bullpen for a few weeks and let him get back to having some success.”
  • McDonnell on bullpen performance: “Midweek baseball in college baseball is all about the guys coming out of the bullpen. Maybe for the first time this year we didn’t pitch well out of the bullpen.”
  • McDonnell also pointed out that UofL was just inches from two would-be home runs: Freshman Kyle Grieshaber thought he had a home run in third (he made it all the way past second base in his trot) but the third base umpire ruled the ball foul to the dismay of McDonnell and the Cards, and senior Phil Wunderlich doubled to lead off the fourth on a ball that landed on the top of the 30-foot wall in right before bouncing back into play.
  • UK senior first baseman Gunner Glad was visibly annoyed when he was hit in the at-bat after his home run. After the game he laughed off the play, but bit his tongue before saying too much: “I don’t know about that, I’ve got no comment about that. I mean they can do what they want to do.”
  • UK coach Gary Henderson was relieved that the Cats are finally starting to drive in runners when they get them on base: “I don’t know if we can talk any more about that without doing it. We’ve obviously had some struggles with that early on.”
  • UofL senior shortstop Adam Duvall stayed in the game after being hit by a pitch in the third inning, but didn’t come back on defense to start the bottom of the frame.

First inning double play sets tone in Cats impressive win

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Gunner Glad, Gary Henderson: UK Athletics photo

Four batters into Tuesday’s showdown between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the outcome looked almost decided: the Cards were about to roll to a blowout victory.

Three of the first four batters had reached to load the bases with one out for preseason All-American senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich. With UK starting a freshman right-handed pitcher in Jordan Cooper, you would have to forgive the home crowd if they thought “here we go again.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the UofL blowout, Cooper induced an inning-ending double play from Wunderlich. Then he came back for the second inning and the third and posted two more zeros on the line score. Six innings later the Cats had a 5-0 shutout win over the No. 9 Cards.

“For a freshman pitcher to be able to throw a change up after four or five pitches to Wunderlich was huge,” UK coach Gary Henderson said. “Jordan did it…it was a huge play in the ball game, no question.”

Kentucky players on Rivals.com Week Seven power rankings

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Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports has released his weekly positional power rankings and, as usual, included several Kentucky players on the lists. Click the link above for the full package, but I’ve included local players below. Kentucky teams have dropped off a little, losing several players from previous weeks’ rankings.

Third Base

  • 1) Zack Cox — Arkansas (Pleasure Ridge Park)
  • 4) Jayson Langfels — Eastern Kentucky University
  • 10) Phil Wunderlich — University of Louisville

Middle Infield

  • 6) Chris Bisson — University of Kentucky
  • 9) Ryan Wright — UofL

Head Coach

  • 3) Dan McDonnell — UofL

Kentucky players on Rival’s Week 6 power rankings

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Zack Cox; University of Arkansas photo

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports has released his latest position-by-position power rankings for NCAA baseball, and as usual several Kentucky players have made the cut. I’ve included those below, but be sure to check out the full list here.

Head Coach

  • 3 — Dan McDonnell — UofL

Middle Infielder

  • 5 — Chris Bisson — UK
  • 8 — Ryan Wright — UofL

Third Base

  • 3 — Zack Cox — Arkansas (PRP)
  • 6 — Jayson Langfels — EKU
  • 8 — Phil Wunderlich — UofL

Ky. players in Rivals Week 4 position power rankings

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Chris Bisson; Photo: UK Athletics

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com has posted his latest power rankings with several Kentucky players making the list. I’ve included the local guys below, but check out the full lists here.

Pitcher

  • 10) RHP Thomas RoyseUniversity of Louisville

First Base

  • 9) Andrew Clark — UofL

Middle Infielder

  • 2) Chris BissonUniversity of Kentucky
  • 8) Adam Duvall — UofL

Third Base

  • 2) Zack Cox — Arkansas — (PRP)
  • 7) Phil Wunderlich — UofL
  • 8) Jayson Langfels Eastern Kentucky University

Outfielder

  • 10) Kes CarterWestern Kentucky University

Coach

  • 4) Dan McDonnell — UofL
  • 8) Gary Henderson — UK