Recaps and highlights from Wednesday Kentucky college baseball action:
The University of Kentucky scored nine runs over two consecutive innings to earn its eighth win in the last nine games with a 12-4 victory over Canisius. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas earned the win after surrendering two unearned runs in one and two-third innings of work. Senior shortstop Taylor Black was 3-4 with four RBI and two runs scored, and junior left fielder Chad Wright was 3-4 with two runs scored. Senior designated hitter Mike Kaczmarek slugged his first collegiate home run, and sophomore center fielder Brian Adams was 2-2 with two runs scored. Freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet surrendered two runs on five hits in four and one-third innings while striking out five batters and walking one in the start. (Box Score)
Eastern Kentucky University‘s losing streak hit seven games and the Colonels fell to 0-10 on the road this season with a 6-3 loss to Miami (OH). Sophomore right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani took the loss after surrendering four runs on seven hits in six and two-third innings while striking out five batters and walking three. Junior designated hitter Jacob Daniel and freshman third baseman Bryan Soloman were both 2-4 in the game. EKU jumped out to a 3-1 lead after six innings, but Miami (OH) scored four runs in the seventh inning and one run in the eighth inning to blow the game open. (Box Score)
Morehead State University‘s game versus Pikeville College was postponed due to rain and will be made up at a later date.
Hitter of the day: SS Taylor Black (UK)
Stats: 3-5, 4 RBI, 2 R
Honorable Mention: Chad Wright (UK), Braden Kapteyn (UK), Mike Kaczmarek (UK), Brian Adams (UK), Jacob Daniel (EKU), Bryan Soloman (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Jonathan Paquet (UK)
Stats: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO
Honorable Mention: Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Walter Wijas (UK)
Logan Robbins bats vs. UK in 2010; BluGrass Baseball photo
Recaps and highlights from Wednesday Kentucky college baseball action:
Western Kentucky University jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after two innings and never looked back in a 7-3 win over Mississippi. Junior shortstop Logan Robbins was 3-5 with a home run, one RBI and three runs scored, and junior third baseman Casey Dykes was 3-3 with one RBI, one run scored and one stolen base. Junior second baseman Ivan Hartle drove in three runs, and senior right-handed starting pitcher Brian Edelen struck out five batters and surrendered one run in two and two-third innings. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Rye Davis, freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman, junior right-handed pitcher Phil Wetherell and junior right-handed pitcher Ross Hammonds each posted scoreless appearances. (Box Score)
The University of Kentucky scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie its Wednesday game, but Middle Tennessee retook the lead with a six-run eighth inning and sent UK to a 9-4 loss. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Phillips took the loss despite surrendering just one of the six runs in the eighth inning. The other five runs were charged to freshman right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott, who surrendered three hits and two walks and hit a batter while recording just two outs. Junior left fielder Chad Wright was 2-4 with one RBI and freshman designated hitter Paul McConkey was 1-2 with two walks and two runs scored. Freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet surrendered two runs on four hits in four innings while striking out five batters and walking three. (Box Score)
Murray State University‘s game versus Belmont was postponed due to wet field conditions and will be made up as part of a double-header in Nashville on May 3.
Morehead State University continued its poor start to the 2011 season with a 12-2 loss to Lipscomb Wednesday. Eagles redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider took the loss after surrendering seven runs on 11 hits in three and one-third innings while striking out one batter and walking none. Junior right fielder Luke Bainer was the only Morehead St. batter with multiple hits and finished the game 2-3 with one walk and one run scored. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: SS Logan Robbins (WKU)
Stats: 3-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R
Honorable Mention: Casey Dykes (WKU), Ivan Hartle (WKU), Chad Wright (UK), Paul McConkey (UK), Luke Bainer (Morehead St.)
Pitcher of the day: Jonathan Paquet (UK)
Stats: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO
Honorable Mention: Alex Phillips (UK), Brian Edelen (WKU), Justin Hageman (WKU)
In the first intrastate matchup of the 2011 season the University of Kentucky had no trouble with the Morehead State University pitching staff in a 12-3 win. Six different UK batters tallied multiple hits in the game. UK junior outfielder Chad Wright was 3-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. UK Sophomore right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas was credited with the win after pitching three and two-third scoreless innings in relief. Wijas struck out three batters and walked two. UK freshman second baseman Matt Reida was 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored in the game, and junior third baseman Thomas McCarthy was 3-5 with one RBI and two runs scored. UK freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet surrendered two runs in three innings in his first collegiate start.
The Morehead St. pitching staff was able to work out of trouble early in the game, preventing UK from scoring a run after loading the bases in three consecutive innings, but a three-run seventh inning and four-run eighth inning from UK put the game out of reach. At the plate Morehead St. junior catcher Taylor Davis was 2-5 with one RBI. Junior outfielder Luke Bainer, sophomore shortstop Austin Haney and redshirt freshman outfielder Nick Duff each tallied two hits in the game. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson was credited with the loss after surrendering four runs on seven hits in three innings. The Eagles used seven different pitchers in the game, including weekend starting pitchers Trey Smith and Josh Schneider. (Box Sc0re)
As part of BluGrass Baseball‘s ongoing college preview check out this team-by-team breakdown of 2011 Kentucky collegians who have been previously selected in the MLB draft. UofL freshman right-handed pitcher Dace Kime is the only player to have been drafted in the first 10 rounds of the draft, and UK freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet is the only player to have been drafted multiple times. Players are listed with the school they were at when drafted, draft round and year.
University of Kentucky
RHP Jordan Cooper — Shelbyville Central HS (Tenn.) — 17th round (2009) — Pirates
RHP Alex Meyer — Greensburg HS (Ind.) — 20th round (2008) — Red Sox
RHP Jonathan Paquet — Quebec/Cardinal Roy HS (Canada) — 22nd round (2010); 46th round (2009) — Phillies, Angels
SS Taylor Black — UK — 28th round (2010) — Cardinals
INF J. T. Riddle — Western Hills HS — 35th round (2010) — Red Sox
The University of Kentucky hosted its annual baseball media day this afternoon. There was not any major breaking news at the event, but it was the first chance to talk with juniors Alex Meyer, Chad Wright and Braden Kapteyn and senior Taylor Black as well as head coach Gary Henderson this season. I’ve included 10 notes from the event below:
Henderson said the second base job is wide open but later admitted he would lean toward playing the strongest defensive player. While outlining the second base candidates, he made a point to emphasize freshman Matt Reida‘s defensive ability, so that probably offers a little glimpse at Henderson’s current thinking.
Senior shortstop Taylor Black said he seriously considered signing with the St. Louis Cardinals after being drafted in 2010. “In the end I though it was best for me to come back to the Cliff for my degree and another year,” he told BluGrass Baseball. Black is the only 2010 Cat who was drafted that elected to return to school.
Henderson said if the season started today junior everything man Braden Kapteyn would be the starting first baseman, but noted “somebody has to be able to play there when he’s pitching.” For now it looks like either Luke Maile or Michael Williams will be the backup first baseman when the other is catching.
While Reida may have a leg up in the second base battle, Henderson said freshman infielder J. T. Riddle was “kind of forcing our hand offensively.” Henderson noted Riddle keeps hitting line drives in the intrasquad games and eventually they will need to find a spot for him in the lineup if he keeps performing. Henderson even suggested Riddle might get a look at first base.
There was lots of talk about the new NCAA mandated bats. Each of the four players suggested that bats might even out some of the major losses on the UK offense. Henderson said he thought the complaining some other SEC coaches had done about the bats was overblown.
Alex Meyer confirmed a recent media report that he’s been working on a changeup this offseason. Henderson said the changeup would be especially useful the third time through the lineup when batters began to adapt to Meyer’s other two pitches.
Each of the three juniors spoke on the need for their class to step into the leadership roles vacated by the numerous upperclassmen who moved on to professional ball from the 2010 team. “I feel like we have a lot of experience,” outfielder Chad Wright said of the junior class. “Coming in almost all of us have played quite a bit. With the experience we’ll be able to contribute a lot to the team.”
I asked Meyer about his adjustment to throwing to new catchers after mainstay Marcus Nidiffer‘s graduation, and he said Nidiffer would be missed but was confident he would quickly adjust to Maile and Williams.
Henderson said freshman Corey Littrell and junior Alex Phillips would be the midweek starting pitchers to begin the season. If either of them falters or an injury necessitates a change, freshmen Trevor Gott and Jonathan Paquet would be next in line for starts.
I asked each of the four players what this team needed to accomplish to consider the season a success. They each agreed on what that goal was, but Wright was most direct in his answer: “I definitely feel like it [the season] is not a success unless we make the postseason.”
In the next-to-last post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant University of Kentucky closer position.
The departed — Right-handed pitcher Matt Little posted a strong season as UK’s closer in 2010 during his only season with the Cats. Little, who was a junior-college transfer, was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 31st round of the 2010 draft. The Virginia native was 2-2 with a 4.93 ERA and seven saves in 2010. Little struck out 52 batters and walked 24 in 42 innings. He led the Cats with 24 appearances in 2010…Left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell, a 2010 junior and Minnesota Twins draftee, was UK’s primary closer in 2009 but served as a starter for most of the 2010 season. After returning to the bullpen late in conference play last season, Darnell saved one game in three relief appearances.
Returning candidates — The 2011 closer job is likely junior right-handed pitcher and first baseman Braden Kapteyn‘s job to lose after serving as one of UK’s top relievers last season. Kapteyn was 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA and 22 strikeouts to go with 15 walks in 22 innings last season. He saved two games last season. The slugger will also likely serve as UK’s primary designated hitter, giving him the flexibility to warm up in the bullpen during the late innings. During the summer 2010 Kapteyn was 3-1 with a 0.69 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Harwich Mariners en route to being named a Cape Cod League all-star…Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Nick Kennedy has struggled to stay healthy during his UK career but offers the Cats a deceptive submarine look out of the pen. In his UK career Kennedy is 4-1 with a 4.21 ERA and two saves. He has struck out 42 and walked just 15 in 40 career innings.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell, freshman right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott and freshman infielder and right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle were all named first-team all-state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as seniors in high school and could serve as valuable relievers for UK in 2011…Freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet was the 22nd round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010 and was highlighted by Gary Henderson in a recent interview with College Baseball Daily as a freshman who could be an earlier contributor for the Cats…Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Phillips struck out 83 and walked just seven batters in 71 innings for Lower Columbia College in 2010.
Wildcard — Returning middle relievers Walter Wijas and Mike Kaczmarek were both valuable weapons out of the UK bullpen in 2010. Wijas, a sophomore right-handed pitcher, was 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 14 games, including one start, last season. Kaczmarek, a senior left-handed pitcher, was 1-0 with a 5.32 ERA last season. Kaczmarek will likely see some time in the outfield for UK in 2011, but will be a left-handed specialist out of the pen. Either Wijas or Kaczmarek could work their way into a more pressurized role in 2011.
In the sixth University of Kentucky post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant midweek starting pitcher positions:
The departed — UK returns each of its three weekend starting pitchers, but head coach Gary Henderson needs to fix a problem from the last two seasons by finding a suitable starting pitcher for midweek matchups to provide much-needed depth. Left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell, a 2010 senior, made 11 weekend starts for UK in 2010 before moving to the bullpen at the end of the season…Right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette, a 2010 sophomore, started seven games for the Cats in two years before transferring to Campbellsville University…Right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper was UK’s primary midweek starter early in the 2010 but cemented himself as the Cats’ Saturday starting pitcher during conference play and will reprise that role in 2011…Right-handed pitcher Joe Devine started three midweek games for UK in 2010 but transferred to Georgetown College prior to this season.
Returning candidates — Sophomore right-handed pitcher and outfielder Sam Kidd started five games for UK last season and finished the year 1-2 with an 8.89 ERA in 12 total appearances. Kidd didn’t last longer than four innings in any of his 12 appearances…Sophomore right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas excelled in a bullpen role for UK in 2010 but also pitched well in his one start on the season, earning a no decision after surrendering one run in three and one-third innings against Florida. Wijas also pitched four and one-third scoreless innings of relief in a UK win against LSU.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell was the 43rd round pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 MLB draft and a first-team all-state selection by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Trinity High School. Littrell was considered the top high school draft prospect in Kentucky and was the Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year. As a senior at Trinity, Littrell was 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA…Freshman right-handed pitcher Jonathan Paquet was the 36th round selection of the New York Yankees in the 2010 draft, even though his high school did not field a baseball team. Paquet made two starts for Quebec during the Baseball Canada Cup…Junior college transfer Alex Phillips started 12 games for Lower Columbia College in 2010, finishing the season 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA in 71 innings pitched.
Wildcard — Freshman infielder and right-handed pitcher J. T. Riddle, 2010 Mr. Kentucky Baseball, will likely push for early playing time on offense but could also serve a valuable role as a midweek starter or reliever. Riddle was 8-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 60 innings as a senior at Western Hill High School en route to a first-team all-state selection by the KHSBCA. Riddle walked just 12 batters as senior in high school.