Recaps and highlights from Wednesday Kentucky college baseball action:
- Eastern Kentucky University junior right-handed pitcher Matt Fyffe surrendered two runs in four innings in his first start since 2009, but his effort wasn’t enough to prevent a 5-0 loss to Western Carolina. Fyffe surrendered six hits in four innings and struck out four while walking one. At the plate the Colonels tallied just two hits, a double by junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez and a triple by senior center fielder Ryan Faidley. Senior right-handed pitchers Macon Smith and Jim Clancy each pitched two scoreless innings out of the EKU bullpen. (Box Score)
- In his first start for Murray State University junior left-handed pitcher Bryan Babin surrendered just one unearned run in seven innings, but Arkansas St. scored four runs in the ninth inning to send the Breds to a 5-1 loss. Babin surrendered four hits in seven innings and struck out five batters while walking three. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Will Handlin took the loss after surrendering two runs in one inning of work. Redshirt freshman right fielder Brandon Eggenschwiler and senior center fielder Elliot Frey both tallied two hits in the game. Senior first baseman Drew Pixley scored Murray St.’s only run. (Read more)
Pitcher of the day: LHP Bryan Babin (Murray St.)
- Stats: 0-0, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO
- Honorable Mention: Jim Clancy (EKU), Matt Fyffe (EKU)
Hitter of the day: CF Elliot Frey (Murray St.)
- Stats: 2-2, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Brandon Eggenschwiler (Murray St.)
Justin Amlung; UofL photo
Recaps from day two of the Kentucky college baseball season:
- University of Louisville redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung was nearly unhittable in leading the Cards to a 2-0 win over Ohio State in game two of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Amlung allowed just four hits in seven and two-third shutout innings while striking out four and walking one to earn the win. Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych allowed the potential tying run to reach base in the ninth but finished the game without allowing a run to record his second save in two games. Junior second baseman Ryan Wright and sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings tallied the two RBI for UofL in the game. (Box Score)
- Bowling Green St. intentionally walked two batters to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice made them pay with a game-winning RBI single in the Hilltoppers’ 8-7 win. The Hilltoppers led 7-5 entering the ninth inning but redshirt junior closer Rye Davis surrendered two runs in a blown save. Junior left fielder Jared Andreoli led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. BGSU then intentionally walked junior outfielders Kes Carter and Ryan Hutchinson, setting up the Rice game-winning hit. Hutchinson was 2-3 with one RBI and two runs scored in the game, and Andreoli tallied three hits in four at-bats. (Box Score)
- The University of Kentucky surrendered four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after a throwing error from redshirt senior second baseman Neiko Johnson prolonged the inning in a 6-4 loss to Marshall. The loss dropped UK to 0-2 for the first time since 1999. Freshman right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott took the loss after surrendering four unearned runs in two innings. UK scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate with no outs in the top of the ninth inning but the rally fell just short. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers pitched will in his first start of the season, surrendering two runs on seven hits in seven innings while striking out seven and walking none. Junior first baseman Braden Kapteyn was 2-4 with two runs scored in the game. (Box Score)
- Eastern Kentucky University‘s game with Pepperdine was postponed due to inclement weather with the Colonels up 8-7 and a man on third base with one out in the ninth inning. EKU junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez was 4-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and junior designated hitter Jacob Daniel was 1-2 with a home run, four RBI and one run scored. EKU senior closer Ryne Purcell was on the mound when the game was postponed. The game will be resumed at 2 p.m. on Sunday. (Live Stats)
- Murray State University never overcame a five-run first inning from UNC Asheville in a 15-5 loss in game two of a three-game series. Junior-college transfer and Murray St. starting pitcher Luke Shuemaker settled down after the first inning but still took the loss after surrendering five runs on nine hits in four innings pitched. At the plate the Breds were led by senior left fielder Drew Pixley, who was 2-4 with a run scored. (Box Score)
- Nothing went right for Morehead State University in its second game of the 2011 season as the Eagles tallied just five hits and were blown out 18-0 after an abysmal pitching performance. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider took the loss after surrendering six runs on six hits in three innings pitched. Freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood struggled in his collegiate debut, giving up six runs on six hits in just one inning of work. One of the few bright spots for the Eagles came from freshman left-handed pitcher Brice Smallwood, who struck out the side in a scoreless inning in his collegiate debut. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: Richie Rodriguez (EKU)
- Stats: 4-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
- Honorable Mention: Jacob Daniel (EKU), Jared Andreoli (WKU), Ryan Hutchinson (WKU), Ryan Huck (WKU), Braden Kapteyn (UK), Drew Pixley (Murray St.)
Pitcher of the day: Justin Amlung (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
- Honorable Mention: Taylor Rogers (UK), Matt Harris (EKU), Brice Smallwood (Morehead St.), Ross Hammonds (WKU)
Following the completion of the “offseason position battle” series we will post a lineup project for each of the five division one schools this week. The lineups are based on the position battle posts and are my projection with a little background research of what the Opening Day lineup might look like. Note that while some positions were not included in the offseason battle series because they had an incumbent starter those starters can still change. We will also include weekend rotations, midweek starters and closers for good measure. We are moving in reverse order of 2010 records and will look at Murray State University today.
- C — Drew Pixley
- 1B — Tyler Beers
- 2B — Travis Isaak
- 3B — Colton Moore
- SS — Brandon Elliott
- LF — Zach Noonan
- CF — Elliot Frey
- RF — Paul Ritzheimer
- DH — Jacob Rhodes
- LHP — Jacob Donze
- LHP — Bryan Babin
- LHP — Kyle Cornett
Midweek starting pitchers
- LHP — Brock Downey
- LHP — Mark Roberts
Zach Noonan; BluGrass Baseball photo
In the fourth Murray State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.
The departed — Outfielder Daniel Hill, a 2010 senior, started 33 games in right field and six as the designated hitter for the Breds in 2010. On the season he batted .284 with five home runs, 37 RBI and 33 runs scored. As a junior Hill batted .344 with a then school-record 16 home runs…Utility man Bryan Propst started 26 games in left field, five games in right field, five games at first base and 15 as the Breds’ designated hitter in 2010. Propst was second on the team in batting (.366), home runs (14), runs scored (57), hits (75), RBI (56) and total bases (140). He tied for the team lead with 19 doubles.
Returning candidates — The Breds return their every day center fielder in senior Elliot Frey, who started 51 games in the outfield in 2010, and corner outfielder senior Zach Noonan, who started 50 games in the outfield last season… The race for the third outfield spot is wide open as Murray state returns just one player who started a game in the outfield in 2010, and that player, senior catcher Drew Pixley, started just one game…Freshman outfielder Brandon Eggenschwiler and Ty Stetson both redshirted during the 2010 season.
Newcomers to watch — Murray St. head coach Rob McDonald added two junior college transfers to the outfield mix for the 2011 Breds. Redshirt sophomore Paul Ritzheimer comes to Murray from Kaskaskia Community College where he batted .405 with three home runs and 20 RBI as a freshman…Junior outfielder Cody Larson batted .263 with three home runs, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored as a sophomore at Skyline Junior College…Freshman left-handed pitcher and outfielder Brock Downey was named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Murray High School. Downey batted .550 with 52 stolen bases as a senior.
Wildcard — The wildcard in the Murray State outfield race may be the only returning reserve who started a game in the outfield in 2010: senior catcher Drew Pixley. The Breds boast five catchers on the roster with Pixley and junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes leading the race for playing time. If McDonnell wants to get both players in the lineup, he could try Pixley in the outfield once again.
Jason Laws; BluGrass Baseball photo
In our second Murray State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the Breds’ vacant catching position.
The departed — Senior Jason Laws batted .314 with four home runs, 36 RBI, 41 runs scored and 14 doubles in 52 games for Murray St. in 2010. Laws started 45 games behind the plate for Murray State last season and five games at designated hitter when he wasn’t catching. Laws was one of just three Breds to appear in over 50 games in 2010. The catcher made 13 errors on the season and finished 2010 with a .951 fielding percentage. Laws also was credited with 11 passed balls. Opposing runners were successful 86.4 percent of the time in 57 stolen base attempts against Laws.
Returning candidates — Senior catcher Drew Pixley made all 12 starts behind the plate in 2010 that didn’t go to Laws for Murray State. Pixley batted .309 with no home runs, six RBI and 14 runs scored in 2010. The left-handed pitcher appeared in 22 total games for Murray State in 2010. Opposing runners were successful 75 percent of the time in 18 stolen base attempts against Pixley in 2010…Senior catcher Bo Akers has appeared in seven games over two seasons with Murray St…Freshman catcher Nick Paradossi redshirted during the 2010 season but batted .443 as a senior at Bosse High School in Evansville, Ind.
Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes figures to earn significant playing time after coming to Murray St. from Wabash Valley Junior College. Rhodes earned honorable mention JUCO All-American honors as a sophomore at Wabash after batting .391 with eight home runs and 76 RBI. Rhodes scored 72 runs in 56 games for Wabash…Freshman Clay Fuson is the other new catcher on the roster. Fuson comes to Murray St. from Lipscomb High School in Nashville, Tenn., where he batted .389 as a senior.
Wildcard — It appears the only surprise in the Breds’ catching battle would be if Pixley or Rhodes didn’t get the majority of the playing time behind the plate. The real wildcard in this battle will be if head coach Rob McDonald tries to get both players in the lineup at the same time by playing one at DH, first base or some other position on the diamond.
Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo
In the latest offseason position battle post we will look at the vacant Murray State University first base position:
The departed — All-American Wes Cunningham started 52 of the Breds’ 57 games at first base before being drafted by the Sand Diego Padres in the 17th round of the 2010 draft. Cunningham led Murray State in batting average (.408), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.824), hits (95), home runs (22), RBI (86), runs (77), triples (6) and total bases (192). Cunningham’s 86 RBI and 192 total bases ranked fifth in the country and his 22 home runs ranked 12th. Senior Bryan Propst also started the other five games at first base for Murray St.
Returning candidates — Rising sophomore Colton Moore is the only returning Bred who logged any time at first base in 2010. Moore played the last two innings of Murray St.’s May 28 Ohio Valley Conference tournament win over Eastern Illinois at first base. Moore started 19 games at third base and 24 at designated hitter so he could make the switch to first base in 2011 if he can handle the position defensively full-time. Redshirt freshman infielder Jordan Queen figures to earn some playing time in the infield and had a RBI singled during the fall World Series.
Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Tyler Beers is the only player listed as a first baseman on the roster, but will also likely pitch some for Murray St. During the final game of the fall World Series Beers tallied a RBI single. Beers batted .300 with five home runs and 25 RBI as a sophomore for Mineral Area College.
Wildcard — Murray State has five catchers listed on the roster, so head coach Rob McDonald could consider moving one to first base. At 6-1 junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes is the tallest of the group but will likely battle with Drew Pixley for the majority of the playing time at catcher. McDonald could also move one of the seven outfielders on the roster to first base.
Sunday saw huge postseason implications for several Kentucky schools both good and bad. Check out the UK Athletics’ video of Marcus Nidiffer’s game-winning grand slam above and recaps and awards from Sunday’s games, which included a tie between two Kentucky teams:
- Redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames led No. 9 University of Louisville to an 8-4 win over St. Johns with two home runs. Ijames ended the game with three hits, three runs scored and six RBI. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung earned the win after allowing three runs in five and two-third innings. He struck out two and walked three. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland allowed one run over the final two and two-third innings to record his 13th save of the season. (Box Score)
- In the final home at-bat of his University of Kentucky career, senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer launched an eighth-inning grand slam to give the Cats the lead and send them to a 6-4 win and series sweep of LSU. The win moved UK into a tie for seventh place in the Southeastern Conference, and the Cats now control their own destiny for a conference tournament bid. The game saw UK walk 12 LSU batters and hit two but also strand 16 Tigers on base. Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell earned the win in his first relief appearance of the season after missing two weeks with shoulder tendonitis. (Box Score)
- Western Kentucky University likely saw its at-large hopes for an NCAA tournament bid vanish Sunday with a 4-3 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette. The loss ensured WKU would lose its third consecutive conference series. Senior first baseman Jake Wells and senior second baseman Matt Payton each tallied two hits in the game, but Louisiana-Lafayette scored three runs in the seventh inning to tie the game and won on a walk-off double in the bottom of the tenth inning. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Phil Wetherell took the loss. (Box Score)
- In a game that was actually played Saturday but not considered official until Sunday, Murray State University and Morehead State University ended their rain-shortened series with a 4-4 tie. The game was suspended in the eighth inning Saturday, but more rain Sunday prevented the teams from finishing the contest or playing the scheduled game three. Morehead senior shortstop Drew Lee and junior first baseman Michael Fear each tallied two hits for the Eagles. Murray St. senior left fielder Bryan Propst and junior catcher Drew Pixley also recorded two hits. Both starting pitchers, sophomore Matthew Robertson for the Eagles and redshirt junior Jake Donze for the Breds, allowed four runs in seven innings, though all four of Robertson’s runs were unearned. (Box Score)
- Eastern Kentucky University dropped the rubber match of its series with Jacksonville State in an 11-3 blowout Sunday. The Colonels are currently sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference, but will have to wait for other teams to finish their conference schedule next week to see if they earn one of the six OVC tournament bids. Junior third baseman Jayson Langfels, junior left fielder Ryan Faidley and sophomore second baseman Dustin Dunlop each tallied two hits in the game for EKU Sunday. Junior right-handed pitcher Stephen Hefler took the loss. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: OF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
- Stats: 3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Jake Wells (WKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Jayson Langfels (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: Matthew Robertson (Morehead St.)
- Stats: ND, 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
- Honorable Mention: Justin Amlung (UofL), Nick Kennedy (UK), Logan Darnell (UK), Tanner Perkins (WKU), Jake Donze (Murray St.)
Wednesday was a winless day on the diamond for Kentucky division one colleges with a 0-2 record. Morehead State University‘s game against Marshall was rained out an tentatively rescheduled for next Wednesday. Check out recaps and awards from the two games played below:
- The University of Kentucky surrendered 10 runs in the first six innings and couldn’t finish a late comeback in a 10-8 loss to Lipscomb. Senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer was 2-4 with two RBI, and freshman left fielder Brian Adams, making just his second start of the season, was 3-4 with one run scored and one RBI. Senior infielder Gunner Glad and senior center fielder Keenan Wiley also tallied two hits in the game. Freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Kidd took the loss after allowing seven runs in four innings. (Box Score)
- Murray State University snapped a five-game winning streak with a 10-1 blowout loss to Memphis. Freshman designated hitter Colton Moore, senior second baseman Kyle Tiernan and junior catcher Drew Pixley each recorded two hits in the game. Moore also drove in the Breds only run, scored by senior left fielder Bryan Propst. Senior right-handed pitcher Marc Harmon took the loss after allowing four runs in two innings. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: OF Brian Adams (UK)
- Stats: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Lance Ray (UK), Keenan Wiley (UK), Colton Moore (Murray St.)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Sean Bouthilette (UK)
- Stats: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Matt McGaha (Murray St.)