Baseball America has released its South region NCAA baseball preview, which includes the Southeastern, Ohio Valley and Sun Belt conferences. The magazine named Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice its preseason Sun Belt player of the year and selected University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer to its preseason All-SEC team. Morehead State University junior catcher Taylor Davis and Eastern Kentucky University senior outfielder Ryan Faidley were named to the All-OVC team. BA ranked WKU outfielder Kes Carter as the best prospect in the Sun Belt and projected UK, WKU, EKU, Morehead St. and Murray State University to each miss the postseason. (Subscription required)
Detroit Tigers farmhand Wade Gaynor recently returned to his alma mater for an interview with the WKU media relations department.
In a revised Big East Conference preview from Kendall Rogers, Allan Simpson of Perfect Game USA ranks UofL junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych the No. 3 2011 draft prospect in the conference. Other UofL players included on the 2011 draft prospect rankings were second baseman Ryan Wright (No. 6), right-handed pitcher Mike Nastold (No. 8), outfielder Stewart Ijames (No. 11), right-handed pitcher Derek Self (No. 15) and right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw (No. 20). Simpson ranked UofL sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Koch, sophomore first baseman Zak Wasserman, freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green and sophomore outfielder Jared Clarkson among the Big East’s top 2012 draft prospects.
Throughout the college baseball season BluGrass Baseball publishes a weekly statistics leaderboard for Kentucky collegians. As part of the 2011 college baseball preview we’ll begin the weekly leaderboard series with a look at the top five returning players in each 2010 statistical category. To be eligible for the percentage categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) a player must have at least 2.5 at-bats per team game.
Matt Rice — WKU — .369
Ryan Wright — UofL — .366
Richie Rodriguez — EKU — .357
Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — .350
Brandon Elliott — Murray St. — .347
Ryan Wright — UofL — 16
Cameron Flynn — UK — 15 *
Stewart Ijames — UofL — 14
Andrew Deeds — Morehead St. — 13
Ryan Faidley — EKU — 12
Taylor Black — UK — 11
Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — 11
Ryan Wright — UofL — 80
Matt Rice — WKU — 65
Stewart Ijames — UofL — 63
Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — 57
Kes Carter — WKU — 53
Ryan Wright — UofL — 61
Jared Andreoli — WKU — 61
Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 55
Zach Noonan — Murray St. — 52
Matt Rice — WKU — 51
Neiko Johnson — UK — 24/25
Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 21/28
Logan Robbins — WKU — 18/20
Drew Haynes — UofL — 15/22
Kes Carter — WKU — 14/17
Jared Andreoli — WKU — 14/20
Michael Fear — Morehead St. — .439
Daniel Pugh — Morehead St. — .438
Ryan Faidley — EKU — .420
Kes Carter — WKU — .418
Jared Andreoli — WKU — .415
Cameron Flynn — UK — .658 *
Ryan Wright — UofL — .638
Ryan Faidley — EKU — .605
Andrew Deeds — Morehead St. — .603
Matt Rice — WKU — .585
Stewart Ijames — UofL — .570
* — Cameron Flynn will sit out the 2011 season as a transfer from Morehead St. to UK.
Following the completion of the “offseason position battle” series we will post a lineup project for each of the five division one schools this week. The lineups are based on the position battle posts and are a my projection with a little background research of what the Opening Day lineup might look like. Note that while some positions were not included in the offseason battle series because they had an incumbent starter those starters can still change. We will also include weekend rotations, midweek starters and closers for good measure. We are moving in reverse order of 2010 records and will look at Eastern Kentucky University today.
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)
Sunday saw huge postseason implications for several Kentucky schools both good and bad. Check out the UK Athletics’ video of Marcus Nidiffer’s game-winning grand slam above and recaps and awards from Sunday’s games, which included a tie between two Kentucky teams:
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames led No. 9 University of Louisville to an 8-4 win over St. Johns with two home runs. Ijames ended the game with three hits, three runs scored and six RBI. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung earned the win after allowing three runs in five and two-third innings. He struck out two and walked three. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland allowed one run over the final two and two-third innings to record his 13th save of the season. (Box Score)
In the final home at-bat of his University of Kentucky career, senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer launched an eighth-inning grand slam to give the Cats the lead and send them to a 6-4 win and series sweep of LSU. The win moved UK into a tie for seventh place in the Southeastern Conference, and the Cats now control their own destiny for a conference tournament bid. The game saw UK walk 12 LSU batters and hit two but also strand 16 Tigers on base. Junior left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell earned the win in his first relief appearance of the season after missing two weeks with shoulder tendonitis. (Box Score)
Western Kentucky University likely saw its at-large hopes for an NCAA tournament bid vanish Sunday with a 4-3 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette. The loss ensured WKU would lose its third consecutive conference series. Senior first baseman Jake Wells and senior second baseman Matt Payton each tallied two hits in the game, but Louisiana-Lafayette scored three runs in the seventh inning to tie the game and won on a walk-off double in the bottom of the tenth inning. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Phil Wetherell took the loss. (Box Score)
In a game that was actually played Saturday but not considered official until Sunday, Murray State University and Morehead State University ended their rain-shortened series with a 4-4 tie. The game was suspended in the eighth inning Saturday, but more rain Sunday prevented the teams from finishing the contest or playing the scheduled game three. Morehead senior shortstop Drew Lee and junior first baseman Michael Fear each tallied two hits for the Eagles. Murray St. senior left fielder Bryan Propst and junior catcher Drew Pixley also recorded two hits. Both starting pitchers, sophomore Matthew Robertson for the Eagles and redshirt junior Jake Donze for the Breds, allowed four runs in seven innings, though all four of Robertson’s runs were unearned. (Box Score)
Eastern Kentucky University dropped the rubber match of its series with Jacksonville State in an 11-3 blowout Sunday. The Colonels are currently sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference, but will have to wait for other teams to finish their conference schedule next week to see if they earn one of the six OVC tournament bids. Junior third baseman Jayson Langfels, junior left fielder Ryan Faidley and sophomore second baseman Dustin Dunlop each tallied two hits in the game for EKU Sunday. Junior right-handed pitcher Stephen Hefler took the loss. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: OF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
Stats: 3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 1 2B
Honorable Mention: Marcus Nidiffer (UK), Jake Wells (WKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Drew Lee (Morehead St.), Jayson Langfels (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: Matthew Robertson (Morehead St.)
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.
Prior to the start of the 2010 college season I released the official BluGrass Baseball All-State team. With just over half the NCAA season in the books it’s time to look at the mid-season honorees. There are several changes from the initial list considering one of the players isn’t even in college anymore.
C — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University — .385, 7 HR, 43 RBI
1B — Wes Cunningham — Murray State University — .429, 13 HR, 46 RBI
Check out the hitting BluGrass Baseball leaderboard updated through Sunday’s games. To be eligible for the percentage categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) a player must have at least 2.5 at-bats per team game, which means UofL senior first baseman Andrew Clark is still not eligible in those categories after missing three weeks due to injury. The college leaderboard is now permanently accessible on its own page on the left sidebar here.
Check out the hitting BluGrass Baseball leaderboard updated through Sunday’s games. To be eligible for the percentage categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) a player must have at least 2.5 at-bats per team game, which means UofL senior first baseman Andrew Clark is still not eligible in those categories after missing three weeks due to injury.
Matt Payton bats against UK Wednesday: BluGrass Baseball photo
You can read my full commentary of the UK/WKU game in the previous post, but there were plenty of state media at the game. Check out their takes below as well as a recap of EKU’s Wednesday contest.
Western Kentucky University defeated the University of Kentucky 6-3 behind four hits from senior first baseman Jake Wells and three RBI from senior shortstop Matt Payton. Freshman right-handed reliever Taylor Haydel recorded the win after allowing one unearned run in one inning. UK freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper took the loss, and the Cats were led by senior third baseman Gunner Glad who was 1-3 with a home run and three RBI. (Box Score)
Junior left fielder Ryan Faidley launched two home runs to lead Eastern Kentucky University to a 10-6 win over Marshall Wednesday. Freshman second baseman Matt Phipps and senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando each had two hits. Freshman right-handed pitcher Alex Rexroat was credited with the win despite pitching just two innings in his start. (Box Score)
Mike Stunson of the College Heights Herald reports WKU was excited to get the win over its in-state rival.
Aaron Smith of the Kentucky Kernel recaps the WKU/UK game and reports UK coach Gary Henderson is concerned about the Cats’ inability to drive in runs.
WKU shortstop Payton told Mark Maloney of the Lexington Herald-Leader the Hilltoppers were glad to come through with clutch hits despite leaving 12 men on base.
Nick Baumgardner of the Bowling Green Daily News writes WKU is no longer chasing UK in his preview of yesterday’s showdown.