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.
The two non-OVC teams swept the in-state matchups Friday in the season’s last mid-week games. Check out recaps and awards from the games below:
No. 11 University of Louisville rode five RBI from senior catcher Jeff Arnold to a 14-3 blowout of Eastern Kentucky University Tuesday. Arnold was 2-5 with two runs scored, and five Cardinals tallied at least two hits in the game. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich was 3-5 with a run scored and RBI. Junior center fielder Josh Richmond, who was playing in his fourth game since missing 29 games with a broken hand, launched his first home run of the season. EKU senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando launched his 17th home run of the season. UofL senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Mathis was credited with the win after pitching two perfect innings. (Box Score)
Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Joe Devine earned his first University of Kentucky career victory in a 6-3 win over Murray State University. Devine allowed one run on three hits in five and one-third innings and struck out four while walking one. UK junior second baseman Chris Bisson was 2-5 in the game, and six different Cats scored a run. Murray St. senior catcher Jason Laws and senior outfielder Daniel Hill each homered in the game. UK left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell earned his first save of the season but surrendered two runs in one and two-third innings. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: C Jeff Arnold (UofL)
Stats: 2-5, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B
Honorable Mention: Andrew Clark (UofL), Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Anthony Ottrando (EKU), Chris Bisson (UK), Jason Laws (Murray St.)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Joe Devine (UK)
Stats: 1-0, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Honorable Mention: Tyler Mathis (UofL), Eric Sanders (EKU), Marc Harmon (Murray St.)
Recaps from a busy Saturday of baseball in the Bluegrass:
No. 9 University of Louisville wasted an excellent start from freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Koch in a 2-1 loss to Georgetown in 10 innings. Koch allowed one run on three hits in eight innings and struck out six batters while walking just one. The Cards managed just four hits in the game and scored their only run on a fourth-inning home run from sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright. Previous Saturday starting pitcher Dean Kiekhefer took the loss after allowing a run in the tenth. (Box Score)
Western Kentucky University fell just short of its second straight ninth inning, come-from-behind win in a 8-6, 10-inning loss to UALR. Senior second baseman Matt Payton and sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins each tallied three hits in the game. Redshirt sophomore closer Rye Davis took the loss after allowing two runs in the tenth inning. (Box Score)
Freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper led the University of Kentucky to a must-win 2-1 victory against No. 6 South Carolina. Cooper allowed one run on four hits in six and two-third innings while striking out five and walking just two. Sophomore designated hitter Braden Kapteyn gave UK the lead with a two-run double in the fifth inning. Junior right-handed pitcher Matt Little pitched the finale two and one-third innings for his seventh save. (Box Score)
Murray State University moved into first place in the Ohio Valley conference after sweeping a doubleheader from Eastern Kentucky University with a 8-1 win in game one and a 9-6 win in game two. Breds senior first baseman Wes Cunningham tallied five hits, a home run and six RBI on the day. Senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft earned the victory in game one with a complete-game performance. He struck out eight and walked one. Senior left-handed pitcher Matt McGaha took the victory in game two. (Box Score GM 1)
EKU Sophomore shortstop Richie Rodriguez was 3-7 with three runs scored in the doubleheader. Junior left-handed pitcher Paul Duncan took the loss in game one and sophomore left-handed pitcher Greg Terry took the loss in game two. (Box Score GM 2)
Morehead State University was swept in its Saturday doubleheader by UT Martin with a 10-9 loss in game one and a 17-8 loss in game two. Senior shortstop Drew Lee was 4-6 on the afternoon, and sophomore catcher Taylor Davis launched two home runs in game two. Sophomore right fielder Cameron Flynn and sophomore third baseman Andrew Deeds also homered in game two. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
Hitter of the day: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
Stats: 5-7, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB
Honorable Mention: Richie Rodriguez (EKU), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Taylor Davis (Morehead St.), Cameron Flynn (Morehead St.), Braden Kapteyn (UK), Jason Laws (Murray St.), Colton Moore (Murray St.), Matt Payton (WKU), Logan Robbins (WKU)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Chris Craycraft (Murray St.)
Stats: 1-0, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Honorable Mention: Jordan Cooper (UK), Matt Koch (UofL), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Matt Little (UK)
Recaps from UofL’s win over WKU and Murray St.’s loss Wednesday:
Southern Illinois rallied for an 8-7 victory over Murray State University Wednesday with a go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Junior center fielder Elliot Frey was 2-4 with a home run, three RBI and one run scored in the game. Senior catcher Jason Laws tallied three hits on the afternoon. Freshman right-handed pitcher Ben Lady took the loss for the Breds. (Box Score)
Josh Cook recaps No. 13 University of Louisville‘s fifth consecutive win over Western Kentucky University for the Courier Journal.
Recaps from the in-state college games Wednesday, and the home opener for the Louisville Bats:
Eastern Kentucky University finished off a season sweep of Marshall with a 10-0 blowout win Wednesday. Junior right fielder Ryan Faidley was 2-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored, and junior left fielder Bryce Labhart tallied three hits, two RBI and two runs. Freshman right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani earned the win with four scoreless innings of work. (Box Score)
Evansville finished a two-game sweep of Murray State University with a 14-5 win in the teams’ second midweek matchup of the week. Senior designated hitter Wes Cunningham was 2-4 with a home run, three RBI and one run scored. Senior catcher Jason Laws also homered. (Box Score)
The University of Louisville (13) has a recap of the Cards’ 7-6 win over No. 19 WKU.
Western Kentucky University also has a recap of the game.
Mike Stunson of the College Heights Herald talked to WKU coach Chris Finwood after the game, and Finwood pointed to UofL’s home runs as the difference in the game.
Michael Grant of The Courier Journal recaps the Louisville Bats’ 3-0 loss to Indianapolis in the Bast’ home opener.
Your BluGrass Baseball week five honors and awards:
Player of the week — Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
Stats: 14-21 (.667), 4 HR, 12 RBI, 13 runs
Honorable Mention: Ryan Wright (UofL), Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Matt Rice (WKU), Matt Payton (WKU), Jason Laws (Murray St.), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Chad Wright (UK), Michael Fear (Morehead), Ryan Faidley (EKU)
Pitcher of the week — Alex Meyer (UK)
Stats: 1-0, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO
Honorable Mention: Dean Kiekhefer (UofL), Dan Huff (Murray St.), Jake Donze (Murray St.), Brian Edelen (WKU), Shane Cameron (WKU), Jeff Arnold (Morehead),
Freshman of the week — SS Brandon Elliott (Murray St.)
Murray State University dropped its seventh game in a row Tuesday with a 17-8 blowout by Arkansas State despite two home runs from senior first baseman Wes Cunningham. The slugger drove in four runs in the game, but the Racers’ pitching staff had no success against Arkansas State. Senior right-handed pitcher Marc Harmon took the loss after surrendering nine runs in two and one-third innings.
Junior left fielder Zach Noonan, senior catcher Jason Laws and senior designated hitter Bryan Propst each had two hits in the game, and Propst drove in two runs. Murray State’s bullpen didn’t fare much better than Harmon after surrendering eight runs in six and two-third innings. The Racers fell to 4-7 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Wes Cunningham — The senior first baseman continued his one-man assault of college baseball Tuesday with a 2-5, two home run, four RBI, two runs scored performance. On the season, Cunningham is batting .388 with four home runs and 11 RBI.
Northwestern St. pounded out 11 runs on 14 hits to shutout Murray State University in game one of a three game series. Murray right-handed ace Chris Craycraft took the loss after giving up seven runs, four of which were earned, in five innings. The Racers bullpen surrendered four runs over the final three innings.
Murray St. had almost nothing to get excited about on offense, but senior first baseman Wes Cunningham and senior catcher Jason Laws each had two hits in the game. Junior left fielder Zach Noonan was the only other Racer to record a hit in the game. Murray St. fell to 4-4 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Wes Cunningham — No Racer really deserves much recognition for this game, but Cunningham led the team with two hits in four at-bats. On the season he is batting .444 with two home runs and seven RBI.
The Murray State Racers dropped their first series of the season with a 9-4 loss to South Dakota State University Sunday. SDSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second and never looked back. Senior catcher Jason Laws led the Racers with a 3-5 performance with one run scored and one RBI. Senior right-handed pitcher Marc Harmon took the loss after allowing six runs in four innings.
BluGrass Baseball POG: Jason Laws — Laws was one of the few offensive bright spots for Murray State as its biggest stars struggled to reach base in the series finale. Laws finished the afternoon 3-5 with one RBI and one run scored.