Matchup of the weekend — Western Kentucky University vs. Coastal Carolina
The Hilltoppers head to South Carolina for the “Baseball at the Beach Tournament” hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are ranked in sever of the college baseball polls, including at No. 17 in the NCBWA top 30, and will present the toughest test for the Hilltoppers so far in the young season. The two teams matchup on Saturday with WKU freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman getting the start. Hageman earned the win in his collegiate debut on Sunday after surrendering two earned runs in five innings. Coastal Carolina is 3-1 on the season.
Player to watch — Stewart Ijames (UofL)
After being suspended for the University of Louisville‘s opening weekend series for a violation of team rules, redshirt junior outfielder Stewart Ijames will presumably make his season debut this weekend versus Toledo. Ijames, who returned to UofL after turning down the New York Yankees as the team’s 29th round pick in the 2010 draft, batted .324 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and 47 runs scored last season. Ijames was selected to the 2011 preseason All-Big East Conference team. The Cards did not miss Ijames during the opening weekend, but he may try to make a statement after failing to show up for his absence in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.
Ky. teams open home schedules
After all but one Kentucky school opened the season on the road the second weekend’s slate of games is full of home action. The University of Kentucky and Morehead State University made their home debuts during the week and play at home this weekend. The University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University each make their home debuts this weekend in series versus Toledo, Penn State and Bowling Green St. respectively. Kentucky teams are 4-1 at home on the young season.
Tournament Watch — WKU (Baseball at the Beach Tournament)
We already outlined WKU’s matchup with host Coastal Carolina in the “Baseball at the Beach Tournament,” but the Hilltoppers also face Kansas St. and Pacific this weekend. The Hilltoppers turn to sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins in game one versus Kansas St. Friday. Kansas St. is 3-0 on the season. WKU hasn’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game versus Pacific, which is 0-3 on the season. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Taylor Haydel started for the Hilltoppers during the opening weekend but also pitched in relief in WKU’s midweek game.
Out-of-state Ky. collegians playing Ky. colleges — Rich Witten (Coastal Carolina), Patrick Maronde (Coastal Carolina), John Fidanza (Coastal Carolina)
WKU will face a trio of Kentucky high school alumni in its Saturday matchup versus Coastal Carolina. Danville High School alum Rich Witten is the everyday first baseman for Coastal Carolina and is 2-16 with three RBI and two runs scored in four games this season. Lexington Catholic alum Patrick Maronde is a freshman right-handed reliever for the Chanticleers but hasn’t appeared in a game yet this season. Patrick is the younger brother of University of Florida junior right-handed pitcher Nick Maronde. Freshman catcher John Fidanza has started two of Coastal Carolina’s four games during the team’s opening series.
This post originally neglected to include John Fidanza among the Kentucky out-of-state collegians playing Kentucky schools this weekend.