Justin Riddell; BluGrass Baseball photo
It’s time for the week eight college baseball weekend preview. Check out the storylines to watch in week eight Kentucky college baseball games below:
Series of the week: Western Kentucky University vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Western Kentucky University (18-11, 6-3) welcomes Sun Belt Conference foe Louisiana-Lafayette (17-11, 6-3) to Bowling Green this weekend. The two teams are essentially tied for second place in conference play, so the series should play a major role in the conference title race. WKU head coach Chris Finwood has made a minor change in the weekend starting rotation, sending freshman Justin Hageman to the mound on Friday and sophomore Tanner Perkins to the mound on Saturday. WKU ranked No. 79 in the first RPI standings released by the NCAA and Louisiana-Lafayette ranked No. 68, so a series win would help WKU’s NCAA at-large chances as well.
Player to watch: RHP Alex Meyer (UK)
The University of Kentucky needs a series win in the worst way versus Auburn this weekend. The Cats have lost their last six Southeastern Conference games and are in danger of falling out of the Southeastern Conference tournament race before it even reaches the halfway point. Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will take the mound on Friday in his usual starting spot and needs to post a strong performance to get UK off on the right foot. Meyer has excellent secondary numbers this season with a 3.10 ERA, 62 strikeouts and a .214 batting average against but has just a 3-4 record. He needs offensive support, but UK has no shot at the postseason if its ace has a sub-.500 record.
Stat of the week: Cards’ pitchers grow stronger late in games.
The University of Louisville pitching staff has been among the best in college baseball this season, but it has been particularly strong as games progress. The team has surrendered over half of its runs, 54 of 94, in the first three innings. After the third innings UofL is outscoring its opponents 99-43 on the season. The UofL bullpen has been particularly strong, led by junior closer Tony Zych, who has a 2.92 ERA and seven saves in 12 appearances, and junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self, who has a 0.68 ERA in 26 and two-third relief innings. Freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green boasts a 1.62 ERA in nine games, including eight relief appearances.
Out of state Kentucky collegians playing Kentucky colleges: OF Justin Riddell (Cincinnati, Lexington Catholic), RHP Zach Isler (Cincinnati, Covington Catholic), INF Kiley Jones (Cincinnati, Eastern), OF Ronald Cotton (Cincinnati, Boone Co.), LHP Joe Sullivan (Cincinnati, Villa Hills), LHP Jeremy Dobbs (Austin Peay, Daviess Co.), LHP Jack Snodgrass (Austin Peay, Bowling Green)
A host of Kentucky high school alumni will return to the Bluegrass State this weekend, led by Cincinnati’s five Kentucky natives. Senior outfielder Justin Riddell is among the Bearcats best hitters and had two home runs against Morehead St. in a midweek game this week, and freshman right-handed pitcher Zach Isler is a valuable bullpen arm. Austin Peay will send Daviess Co. alum Jeremy Dobbs and Bowling Green alum Jack Snodgrass to the mound for starts against Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.