In the final post of the third lap in the “offseason position battle series” we will look at the vacant Morehead State University weekend starting pitcher positions.
The departed — Morehead St. lost the closest thing it had to an ace in 2010 to graduation in the form of right-handed pitcher and first baseman Michael Bottoms. The two-way player led Morehead St. with 12 starts on the season and finished the season at 4-4 with a 6.57 ERA and 40 strikeouts to go with 28 walks in 74 innings pitched. Bottoms continued his career after graduation by pitching in the South Australian Baseball League…Right-handed pitcher Quentin Morgan, a 2010 senior, was 3-1 with a 9.95 ERA in 10 games, including eight starts, for the Eagles in 2010. Morgan struck out 25 batters and walked 16 in 38 innings pitched.
Returning candidates — Senior right-handed pitcher Jeff Arnold made 12 starts for Morehead St. as a junior in 2010, going 4-1 with a 9.10 ERA and 31 strikeouts to go with 14 walks in 58.1 innings pitched…Junior right-handed pitcher Matt Robertson made eight starts for the Eagles as a sophomore in 2010, going 1-5 with a 9.40 ERA in 45 innings pitched…Senior right-handed pitcher Trey Smith was 3-2 with a 7.93 ERA in 16 games, including three starts, as a junior for Morehead St. in 2010. Smith struck out 16 batters in 10 innings over two starts during the Fall World Series…Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson made just one start as a freshman in 2010, but struck out 10 batters over six innings in a start during the Fall World Series. Gibson was 1-2 with a 7.92 ERA and three saves in 16 games in 2010…Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider made five starts as a sophomore in 2010 but pitched well in a starting role during the Fall World Series…Junior left-handed pitcher Tyler Hieneman made seven starts as a sophomore for Morehead last season but struggled to the tune of a 10.70 ERA.
Newcomers to watch — Freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood comes to Morehead from West Jessamine High School, where he was named second-team all-state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association following his senior season. Smallwood made a start for the Eagles during the Fall World Series…Freshman left-handed pitcher Brice Smallwood was also named second-team all-state by KHSBCA following his senior season at Dixie Height High School. Brice was 10-0 with a 1.21 ERA as a senior…Freshman left-handed pitcher and outfielder Duran Elmore struck out 106 batters in 77 innings pitched as a senior at Danville High School.
Wildcard — Sophomore left-handed pitcher Garrick Whittle did not make any starts for Morehead as a freshman, a rarity on a pitching staff that had no pitcher with multiple appearances finish with an ERA under 6.57, but started a game during the Fall World Series. Whittle struck out eight batters over five shutout innings during that start, positioning him as a serious candidate for a starting rotation spot in 2011. Whittle did not record a decision as a reliever in 2010 and posted a 10.38 ERA in nine appearances…Junior college transfer Kyle Williams is still new to pitching after converting to the position. He originally signed with Shawnee Community College as an outfielder.
A college-heavy group of links from around Kentucky baseball:
- Mike Fields of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports Louisville Eastern High School senior pitcher/infielder Spencer Drake has committed to the University of Kentucky.
- Fields also reports former Paintsville High School standout Shane Grimm, who was 7-0 for Walters State Junior College in 2010 will sign with UK in November as part of the incoming class for 2012.
- Brent Ingram of the UK Media Relations department finishes his list of the 20 most memorable UK games since 2006, headlined by the 2006 NCAA regional tournament.
- UK rising senior shortstop Taylor Black also explained his decision to return to school in a feature for the UK website.
- Former UofL right-handed pitcher Neil Holland and infielder Phil Wunderlich were named all-stars in the New York-Penn League.
- Former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher and first baseman Michael Bottoms will be one of two non-Australians playing for the Kensington Cardinals of the South Australian Baseball League beginning in October.
- Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal reports Louisville Cincinnati Reds fans can once again listen to the Reds on the radio after WNDA-1570 in Clarksville and WTSZ-1600 in Eminence agreed to broadcast games for the remainder of the season.
Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo
The state’s three Ohio Valley Conference teams don’t have multiple draft prospects, so we’ll lump them all together for the next preview post. These players will test the importance of college state because several of them posted video game numbers this season:
The test cases
- Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named OVC player of the year in a season where he batted .408 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI and 77 runs. The third team Louisville Slugger All-American doesn’t have a great fit on defense, struggles against left-handed pitching and is undersized for a first baseman. Cunningham will get drafted, probably in the first 30 rounds for his numbers alone, but will have to prove himself at every level of professional baseball. Baseball America projects he’ll need to move to second base as a pro, where he would have slightly above average speed.
- Eastern Kentucky University junior third baseman Jayson Langfels struggled toward the end of 2010, which certainly didn’t help his draft status, but has boasted back-to-back .350-plus seasons. He batted over .400 as a sophomore and slugged 16 home runs as a junior. Langfels could probably use another year of college and will likely head back to EKU unless he’s drafted surprisingly high.
- Morehead State University hitters’ offensive numbers are boosted by the school’s small park, but senior shortsop Drew Lee and senior outfielder J. D. Ashbrook still boasted abnormally impressive performances. Lee batted .412 while Ashrook hit .432 on the season. Lee slugged 17 home runs, and Ashbrook added 18 long-balls of his own. Both players will hope to be late-round senior signs where they’ll look to prove detractors wrong.
- EKU senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando slugged 17 home runs and drove in 66, but will hope a team selects him late as an organizational filler due to his limited upside.
- Murray St. senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft underperformed as a senior but could profile as a middle reliever if given the chance, and Morehead St. senior catcher Taylor Davis batted .350 on the season.
Other possible senior signs:
- C Joey Stevens (EKU)
- RHP Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.)
- OF Bryan Propst (Murray St.)
- LHP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)
Now that the collegiate season is over for five of the six Division one schools, I’m starting season review series looking at each school’s 2010 season. I’ll work through the teams in reverse order of the season records, finishing with UofL when the Cards NCAA tournament run ends. First off we’ll look at Morehead State University‘s season highlights and awards. The Eagles finished 2010 with a 24-25-1 record.
- Hitter of the year: OF J. D. Ashbrook — The senior center fielder didn’t garner nearly as many headlines as his senior teammate Drew Lee entering the season, but Ashbrook matched Lee in performance as both were Ohio Valley Conference standouts. Ashbrook batted .432 with 18 home runs, 55 RBI and 69 runs scored in 2010. He also stole 14 of 17 bases, slugged .795 and boasted and on-base percentage of .540.
- Pitcher of the year: RHP Michael Bottoms — Pitching was far from Morehead’s strong point this season, as no pitcher with more than two innings pitched boasted an ERA below 6 or more than 40 strikeouts on the season. Bottoms was the best of a uninspiring group with a 4-4 record, 6.57 ERA and 40 strikeouts. He gets extra points for playing both ways and batting .311 with three home runs.
- Season high point: The Eagles sweep three games from Eastern Kentucky University April 17 and 18 by a 57-23 margin. The sweep marked Morehead’s only OVC series win of the season.
- Season low point: With a chance to qualify for the OVC tournament, Morehead is swept in three games by Jacksonville St. to end the season.
- Miscellaneous: While Drew Lee might have been slightly outplayed by Ashbrook, his 2010 performance was all Morehead could have hoped for and more. Lee batted .412 with 17 home runs, 66 RBI and 60 runs scored…Senior catcher Taylor Davis stood out among a strong group of Kentucky senior catchers with 11 home runs and 57 RBI…Redshirt sophomore reliever Josh Schneider won eight games despite struggling to the tune of a 8.35 ERA.
Tuesday saw the naming of all-conference teams across the country and the awarding of pitcher and player of the year honors. Kentucky collegiate players received their fair share of recognition, and I’ve listed those honors below:
- University of Louisville (9) junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse was named the Big East Conference pitcher of the year.
- Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings was named the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year.
- Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year.
- First team All-Southeastern Conference: 3B Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP)
- Second team All-SEC: 2B Chris Bisson (University of Kentucky)
- First team All-Big East: P Neil Holland (UofL), P Thomas Royse (UofL), 1B Andrew Clark (UofL), 2B Ryan Wright (UofL)
- Second team All-Big East: C Jeff Arnold (UofL), 3B Phil Wunderlich (UofL), SS Adam Duvall (UofL), OF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
- First team All-Big Ten Conference: SS Jonathan Roof (Michigan St., Paducah)
- First team All-Sun Belt: RHP Matt Ridings (WKU), RP Rye Davis (WKU), C Matt Rice (WKU), OF Kes Carter (WKU)
- Second team All-Sun Belt: 2B Matt Payton (WKU)
- First team All-OVC: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), SS Drew Lee (Morehead State University), 3B Jayson Langfels (Eastern Kentucky University), OF J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.).
- Second team All-OVC: 1B Anthony Ottrando (EKU), UT Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.), SP Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), RP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)
- Freshman All-OVC: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU), OF Austin Grisham (EKU), SS Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), 3B/DH Colton Moore (Murray St.)
- Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Conference: SP Patrick Cooper (Bradley, Danville)
Awards from the final regular season week of the Kentucky college baseball season:
Player of the week: SS Adam Duvall (UofL)
- Stats: 7-18 (.389), 2 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 3 2Bs, 1 3B, 1 SB
- Honorable Mention: Brian Adams (UK), Logan Robbins (WKU), Ryan Huck (WKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Joey Stevens (EKU), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.)
Pitcher of the week: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO
- Honorable Mention: Thomas Royse (UofL), Joe Devine (UK), Shane Cameron (WKU), Matt Ridings (WKU), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Paul Duncan (EKU), Eric Sanders (EKU), Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.)
Freshman of the week: OF Brian Adams (UK)
- Stats: 8-14 (.571), 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 3 R, 6 RBI
- Honorable Mention: Justin Amlung (UofL), Cade Stallings (UofL), Ryan Huck (WKU), Taylor Haydel (WKU), Anthony Bazzani (EKU)
Recaps and awards from the final Kentucky college regular season slate of baseball:
- For the full recap of No. 11 University of Louisville‘s Big East regular season championship-clinching double-header sweep of Notre Dame click here.
- The University of Kentucky avoided a series-sweep to last-place Georgia, but likely ended its season with a 14-11 victory Sunday. Redshirt Senior first baseman Gunner Glad launched a three-run, ninth inning home run in what was likely his last collegiate at-bat to give UK the win. Freshman outfielder Brian Adams finished the season on a hot streak with a 4-5 performance with his first collegiate home run, six RBI and three runs scored in the finale. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Nick Kennedy earned the win after allowing one run in two innings. (Box Score)
- Western Kentucky University gained some much-needed momentum heading into the Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 15-5 win over Middle Tennessee Saturday. The win gave WKU its first series since April 25. The game was called after six and one-half innings due to the 10-run rule for the final game of a Sun Belt series. Freshman designated hitter Ryan Huck was 2-3 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored. Redshirt sophomore right-handed reliever Ross Hammonds earned the victory with three scoreless innings. WKU will face top-seeded Florida Atlantic in game one of the Sun Belt tournament Wednesday. (Box Score)
- Murray State University ended its season on a sour note with an 11-1 blowout loss to Tennessee Tech. The Breds will enter the OVC tournament as the three seed and will face EKU in game one Wednesday. Murray St. tallied just three hits in the game, and senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love surrendered six runs in three innings to take the loss. (Box Score)
- Junior Jayson Langfels launched two home runs to send Eastern Kentucky University to a 8-7 win on senior night and a series sweep of SIU Edwardsville. Langfels was 2-5 with two home runs, four RBI and two runs scored. Junior right-handed pitcher Stephen Hefler earned the victory after allowing five runs in seven innings. EKU will enter the OVC tournament as the six seed and faces Murray St. in game one Wednesday. (Box Score)
- Morehead State University ended its season with a 21-10 loss to Jacksonville State on senior night. The loss was the final collegiate game for seniors Drew Lee, J.D. Ashbrook, Michael Bottoms, Michael Fahs, Quentin Morgan and Hunter Hewitt. Ashbrook ended his collegiate career with a 4-6 performance with two RBI and one run scored. Sophomore third baseman Andrew Deeds was 3-5 with a home run, six RBI and one run scored. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: LF Brian Adams (UK)
- Stats: 4-5, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 1 3B
- Honorable Mention: Adam Duvall (UofL), Ryan Huck (WKU), Jayson Langfels (EKU), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.), Andrew Deeds (Morehead St.)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO
- Honorable Mention: Matt Koch (UofL), Ross Hamonds (WKU), Stephen Hefler (EKU)
Postseason races were decided Friday across the Bluegrass and one team clinched a tournament berth. Check out recaps and awards from those games below:
- No. 11 University of Louisville‘s game vs. Notre Dame was rained out and postponed as part of a double-header Saturday. UCONN has won the first two games of its weekend series, meaning a Huskies’ win or Cards’ loss Saturday will clinch the regular season Big East championship for UCONN.
- The University of Kentucky was embarrassed in a 20-0 blowout loss to last-place Georgia Friday and was eliminated from Southeastern Conference tournament contention with a LSU victory. Georgia scored in each of the first five innings and removed any doubt from the outcome with a seven-run seventh inning. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Joe Devine was the only UK pitcher to hold Georgia scoreless. Freshman left fielder Brian Adams and sophomore third baseman Andy Burns each tallied two hits in the game. (Box Score)
- Western Kentucky University dropped game two of its three-game series to Middle Tennessee with a 7-2 loss Friday. Senior right-handed pitcher Shane Cameron took the loss despite only surrendering three runs in seven and one-third innings. No WKU batter recorded multiple hits in the game, and the Hilltopper bullpen surrendered four runs over the final one and two-third innings. Saturday’s rubber match between the two teams will be significant in determining Sun Belt Conference tournament seeding. (Box Score)
- Murray State University was swept in its Friday double-header by Tennessee Tech, giving Tech the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship. The Breds lost game one 15-8 and game two 8-3. Senior first baseman Wes Cunningham launched a home run in each game, and senior left fielder Bryan Propst finished the afternoon 4-7 with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBI. Senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft took the loss in game one after allowing nine runs in three and one-third innings, and redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze couldn’t record an out in the second inning in his game two loss. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
- Morehead State University was eliminated for OVC tournament contention with a double-header sweep by Jacksonville St with a 10-7 loss in game one and 17-0 blowout in game two. Senior pitcher/designated hitter Michael Bottoms was 4-5 in game one and allowed just three runs in seven innings on the mound. Senior shortstop Drew Lee homered in game one. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider and sophomore right-handed pitcher Matthew Robertson took the two losses. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
- Eastern Kentucky University swept a double-header from SIU Edwardsville and clinched a spot in the OVC tournament with Morehead St.’s and UT Martin’s losses. EKU won both games by 4-1 scores. Junior left-handed pitcher Paul Duncan allowed one unearned run in six and two-third innings for the game-one win. Freshman right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani scored the game-two victory with one run in five innings. Junior left fielder Ryan Faidley tallied two hits in game one and junior third baseman Jayson Langfels recorded two hits in game two. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
Hitter of the day: LF Bryan Popst (Murray St.)
- Stats: 2 G, 4-7, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
- Honorable Mention: Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Brian Adams (UK), Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.), Ryan Faidley (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: LHP Paul Duncan (EKU)
- Stats: 1-0, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Shane Cameron (WKU), Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.), Anthony Bazzani (EKU)
The final weekend of the season starts early this week. Check out the schedule below for everything you need to know about week 14 Kentucky action:
University of Louisville (11) @ Notre Dame
- Thursday — 6:05 p.m. — RHP Thomas Royse (9-1, 2.61) — Gametracker
- Friday — 6:05 p.m. — RHP Matthew Koch (2-0, 3.71) — Gametracker
- Saturday — 1:05 p.m. — TBA — Gametracker
University of Kentucky @ Georgia
- Thursday — 6:30 p.m. — RHP Alex Meyer (5-2, 6.47) — Live Stats
- Friday — 6:30 p.m. — RHP Jordan Cooper (4-4, 5.11) — Live Stats
- Saturday — 2: 00 p.m. — LHP Taylor Rogers (4-7, 6.27) — Live Stats
Western Kentucky University vs. Middle Tennessee St.
Murray State University @ Tennessee Tech.
- Friday — 1 p.m. (CT) — RHP Chris Craycraft (6-3, 4.48)
- Friday — GM 2 (DH) — LHP Jake Donze (5-5, 6.11)
- Saturday — 1 p.m. (CT) — RHP Alex Love (6-0, 5.74)
Eastern Kentucky University vs. SIU Edwardsville
- Friday — 1 p.m. — LHP Paul Duncan (4-4, 6.90) — Live Stats
- Friday — GM 2 (DH) — RHP Anthony Bazzani (3-3, 6.02)
- Saturday — 1 p.m. — RHP Stephen Hefler (3-5, 8.12)
Morehead State University vs. Jacksonville St.
- Friday — 1 p.m. — RHP Michael Bottoms (4-4, 6.85) — Live Stats
- Friday — GM 2 (DH) — RHP Matthew Robertson (1-4, 8.32)
- Saturday — 1 p.m. — TBA
Now that your caught up on the postseason races from the stretch drive series, check out the week 13 weekend schedule below:
University of Louisville (9) vs. St. Johns
Western Kentucky University @ Louisiana Lafayette
- Friday — 6 p.m. (CT) — RHP Matt Ridings (8-1, 3.38) — Live Stats
- Saturday — 6 p.m. (CT) — RHP Shane Cameron (4-1, 5.04) — Live Stats
- Sunday — 1 p.m. (CT) — TBA — Live Stats
University of Kentucky vs. LSU
- Friday — 6:30 p.m. — LHP Taylor Rogers (4-5, 5.59) — Gametracker
- Saturday — 3 p.m. — RHP Jordan Cooper (3-4, 5.11) — Gametracker
- Sunday — 1 p.m. — RHP Alex Meyer (5-2, 6.52) — Gametracker
Murray State University vs. Morehead State University
- Saturday — 1 p.m. (CT) — TBA vs. RHP Michael Bottoms (4-3, 6.64) — Live Stats
- Saturday — 4 p.m. (CT) — TBA vs. RHP Matthew Robertson (1-4, 9.88)
- Sunday — 1 p.m. (CT) — TBA vs. LHP Tyler Hieneman (1-2, 8.65)
Eastern Kentucky University vs. Jacksonville State
- Saturday — 1 p.m. (CT) — RHP Anthony Bazzani (2-3, 6.83) — Live Stats
- Saturday — GM 2 (DH) — LHP Paul Duncan (4-3, 7.09)
- Sunday — 1 p.m. (CT) — RHP Stephen Hefler (3-4, 7.50)