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.
Several state schools are either finishing or starting Spring Break so week four of the college season should have plenty of action starting with the weekend games below. Check out the composite schedule below with information about where you can listen or watch the game. Gametracker links will take you to the livestream of the radio broadcast. I’ve also included each teams probable starting pitcher and Baseball America ranking in parentheses when applicable. Clicking on each team’s name will take you to the university’s preview of the series.
University of Louisville (8)
- Friday — @ Ole Miss (18) — 7:30 p.m. — RHP Thomas Royse — Gametracker
- Saturday — @ Ole Miss (18) — 2:30 p.m. — LHP Dean Kiekhefer — Gametracker
- Sunday — @ Ole Miss (18) — 1:30 p.m. — RHP Tony Zych — Gametracker
University of Kentucky (22)
Western Kentucky University
- Friday — @ New Orleans — 6:30 p.m. (CT) — RHP Matt Ridings — Live Stats
- Saturday — @ New Orleans — 4:00 p.m. (CT) — LHP Tanner Perkins — Live Stats
- Sunday — @ New Orleans — 1:00 p.m. (CT) — RHP Shane Cameron — Live Stats
Eastern Kentucky University
Murray State University
- Friday — vs. St. Louis — 2 p.m. (CT) — RHP Chris Craycraft — Live Stats
- Saturday — vs. St. Louis — 1 p.m. (CT) — LHP Jake Donze
- Sunday — vs. St. Louis — 1 p.m. (CT) — RHP Dan Huff
Morhead State University (Dunn Hospital Diamond Classic)
- Friday — @ Evansville — 4:00 p.m. — RHP Tyler Heineman — Live Stats
- Saturday — @ Purdue — 1:00 p.m. — RHP Michael Bottoms
- Sunday — @ Le Moyne — 1:00 p.m. — RHP Quentin Morgan
Each conference gives out a weekly player, pitcher and freshman of the week honors on Monday for the previous week’s play. Since I like to consider BluGrass Baseball a sort of conference of its own, we’ll play copy cat and issue similar awards each week. To be eligible, players must be on a Kentucky college team or a graduate of a Kentucky high school playing elsewhere in college baseball.
BluGrass Baseball Player of the Week — Anthony Ottrando — EKU
- Stats: .500 (5-10), 4 HR, 9 RBI, 4 runs, 17 total bases
- Honorable Mention: Jayson Langfels (EKU); Chris Bisson (UK); Chad Wright (UK); Kes Carter (WKU); Andrew Clark (UofL); Ryan Wright (UofL); Stewart Ijames (UofL); Wes Cunningham (Murray St.); Drew Lee (Morehead St.); Taylor Davis (Morehead St.); Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP)
BluGrass Baseball Pitcher of the Week — Thomas Royse — UofL
- Stats: 1-0, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO
- Honorable Mention: Neil Holland (UofL); Taylor Rogers (UK); Matt Little (UK); Alex Meyer (UK); Greg Terry (EKU); Matt Ridings (WKU); Shane Cameron (WKU); Jake Donze (Murray St.); Chris Craycraft (Murray St.); Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.); Tyler Heineman (Morehead St.)
BluGrass Baseball Freshman of the Week — Taylor Rogers — UK
- Stats: 1-0, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Luke Maile (UK); Tanner Perkins (WKU); Taylor Haydel (WKU); Justin Amlung (UofL); Colton Moore (Murray St.)
University of Louisville senior first baseman Andrew Clark blasted a two-run home run in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie and send the Cards to a 7-2 victory over Morehead State. UofL added three more runs in the eighth inning. Clark finished the game 2-4 with two home runs and two RBI. Sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright also added a triple and a home run and finished the afternoon with three RBI.
Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Matt Lea earned the victory with two scoreless innings of relief. Redshirt freshman Justin Amlung allowed only one hit in four innings of relief of freshman starting pitcher Andy Flett, who failed to make it past the second inning.
No Morehead State player had more than one hit in the game, but senior shortstop Drew Lee and senior first baseman Michael Bottoms each drove in a run. Sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Tyler Heineman allowed only two runs, one earned, in five innings for the Eagles. Morehead sophomore designated hitter/reliever Cameron Flynn took the loss after allowing one run in two-thirds of an inning. (Box Score)
Morehead fell to 2-3 on the season, and UofL improved to 4-0.
BluGrass Baseball POG: Ryan Wright — The sophomore shortstop was 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBI for the Cardinals. Wright added a triple and a home run for good measure and walked twice. He also recorded three putouts and three assists in the field.