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.
Check out these recaps from a wild day of games for Kentucky schools and the video of the day’s hero above:
No. 9 University of Louisville suffered a rare Big East series opening loss with an 8-5 loss to St. Johns Friday. Junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse took a no decision after allowing four runs in seven innings. Junior right-handed reliever Gabriel Shaw took the loss after allowing two runs in one inning of work. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Stewart Ijames was 2-4 with a home run, two RBI and one run scored. Senior first baseman Andrew Clark also tallied three hits in the game. (Box Score)
Senior Matt Ridings was almost unhittable in a sterling 2-1 win for Western Kentucky University over Louisiana-Lafayette. Ridings allowed one run on two hits in eight and one-third innings while striking out eight and walking two. Junior closer Rye Davis pitched the final two-third innings to earn his ninth save of the season. Senior second baseman Matt Payton and freshman designate hitter Ryan Huck each tallied two hits. (Box Score)
Junior designated hitter Lance Ray gave the University of Kentucky a dramatic 11-9 win over LSU with a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Ray also launched a three-run home run in the first inning and finished the game 2-4 with two home runs, six RBI and three runs scored. Freshman right-handed reliever Walter Wijas held LSU scoreless on two hits in four and one-third innings out of the pen, and right-handed pitcher Braden Kapteyn was credit with the win. (Box Score)
Hitter of the Day: DH Lance Ray (UK)
Stats: 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB
Honorable Mention: Stewart Ijames (UofL), Andrew Clark (UofL), Chad Wright (UK), Ryan Huck (WKU)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Matt Ridings (WKU)
Stats: 1-0, 8.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
Honorable Mention: Thomas Royse (UofL), Walter Wijas (UK)
Awards for week nine: (Keep in mind after the weekend’s offensive onslaught from Morehead State, the Eagles probably had six or seven candidates for the offensive award more deserving than any others in the state)
Honorable Mention: J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead), Cameron Flynn (Morehead), Taylor Davis (Morehead), Andrew Deeds (Morehead), Jacob Daniel (EKU), Anthony Ottrando (EKU), Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Andy Burns (UK), Andrew Clark (UofL), Kes Carter (WKU)
Pitcher of the Week: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
Honorable Mention: Gabriel Shaw (UofL), Walter Wijas (UK), Taylor Rogers (UK), Matthew Robertson (Morehead), Trey Smith (Morehead)
Freshman of the Week: RHP Walter Wijas (UK)
Stats: 2 G, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO
Honorable Mention: Taylor Rogers (UK), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Cody Gibson (Morehead), Kyle Grieshaber (UofL), Ryan Huck (WKU)
Junior right-handed pitcher Gabriel Shaw shut down the West Virginia Mountaineers four seven innings in just his second start of the season as the University of Louisville (13) defeated WVU 10-1. Shaw struck out six and walked just one to earn his fourth win of the season. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich was 4-5 with a home run, three RBI and one run scored. (Box Score)
Morehead State University topped the 20-run mark for the fifth time this season in a 21-11 rout of Eastern Kentucky University to score the series sweep of the Colonels. Eagles senior shortstop Drew Lee was 3-6 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. EKU sophomore designated hitter Jacob Daniel homered twice in the loss. (Box Score)
Freshmen right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas and Jordan Cooper allowed just two runs in six and one-third innings to lead the University of Kentucky to a 6-5 win against No. 7 Florida. Junior designated hitter Lance Ray was 3-3 with a run scored for UK, and sophomore right fielder Cory Farris drove in two runs. The win prevented a Florida sweep of the series. (Box Score)
Hitter of the Day: SS Drew Lee (Morehead St.)
Stats: 3-6, 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 2 R
Honorable Mention: Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Ryan Wright (UofL), Anthony Ottrando (EKU), Jacob Daniel (EKU), Andrew Deeds (Morehead St.), Lance Ray (UK), Chris Bisson (UK)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Gabriel Shaw (UofL)
Stats: 1-0, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Honorable Mention: Walter Wijas (UK), Jordan Cooper (UK),
Honorable Mention: Gunner Glad (UK), Travis Redmon (Morehead State), Drew Lee (Morehead), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead), Wes Cunningham (Murray State), Daniel Hill (Murray St.), Adam Duvall (UofL), Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP), Matt Payton (WKU)
The University of Kentucky earned its seventh victory of the season with a 5-2 win over Morehead State University behind two home runs from its slugging third baseman. UK sophomore Andy Burns put the Cats ahead with a first inning homer and added a second long ball in the fifth inning. Morehead received a 3-3 performance from senior first baseman Michael Bottoms, and three other Eagles recorded multiple hits in the game. UK scored three runs in the first inning to put the game out of reach early.
UK freshman right-handed pitcher/outfielder Sam Kidd recorded his first career victory after allowing one run in two innings of relief out of the Cats’ bullpen. Freshman relievers Jordan Cooper and Walter Wijas also recorded scoreless relief appearances, and junior right-handed reliever Matt Little earned his third save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. Junior second baseman Chris Bisson was 2-4 for the Cats, and junior right fielder Lance Ray and senior first baseman Gunner Glad also drove in runs for UK.
Morehead Sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Josh Scneider took the loss for the Eagles after allowing three runs in one and one-third innings. Relievers Trey Smith, Casey Branham and Michael Fahs held UK scoreless over the last three and two-third innings. Senior shortstop Drew Lee, senior center fielder J. D. Ashbrook and sophomore catcher Taylor Davis each had two hits in the game for the Eagles. (Box Sc0re)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Andy Burns — The sophomore slugger launched his second and third home runs of the season and finished the afternoon at 3-4 with two home runs, three runs scored and two RBI. Burns also stole a base for good measure and is batting .333 with three home runs and four RBI on the season and leads UK with nine runs scored.