BluGrass Baseball Week Eight Weekend Preview

College Baseball

Justin Riddell; BluGrass Baseball photo

It’s time for the week eight college baseball weekend preview. Check out the storylines to watch in week eight Kentucky college baseball games below:

Series of the week: Western Kentucky University vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Western Kentucky University (18-11, 6-3) welcomes Sun Belt Conference foe Louisiana-Lafayette (17-11, 6-3) to Bowling Green this weekend. The two teams are essentially tied for second place in conference play, so the series should play a major role in the conference title race. WKU head coach Chris Finwood has made a minor change in the weekend starting rotation, sending freshman Justin Hageman to the mound on Friday and sophomore Tanner Perkins to the mound on Saturday. WKU ranked No. 79 in the first RPI standings released by the NCAA and Louisiana-Lafayette ranked No. 68, so a series win would help WKU’s NCAA at-large chances as well.

Player to watch: RHP Alex Meyer (UK)

The University of Kentucky needs a series win in the worst way versus Auburn this weekend. The Cats have lost their last six Southeastern Conference games and are in danger of falling out of the Southeastern Conference tournament race before it even reaches the halfway point. Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer will take the mound on Friday in his usual starting spot and needs to post a strong performance to get UK off on the right foot. Meyer has excellent secondary numbers this season with a 3.10 ERA, 62 strikeouts and a .214 batting average against but has just a 3-4 record. He needs offensive support, but UK has no shot at the postseason if its ace has a sub-.500 record.

Stat of the week: Cards’ pitchers grow stronger late in games.

The University of Louisville pitching staff has been among the best in college baseball this season, but it has been particularly strong as games progress. The team has surrendered over half of its runs, 54 of 94, in the first three innings. After the third innings UofL is outscoring its opponents 99-43 on the season. The UofL bullpen has been particularly strong, led by junior closer Tony Zych, who has a 2.92 ERA and seven saves in 12 appearances, and junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self, who has a 0.68 ERA in 26 and two-third relief innings. Freshman right-handed pitcher Chad Green boasts a 1.62 ERA in nine games, including eight relief appearances.

Out of state Kentucky collegians playing Kentucky colleges: OF Justin Riddell (Cincinnati, Lexington Catholic), RHP Zach Isler (Cincinnati, Covington Catholic), INF Kiley Jones (Cincinnati, Eastern), OF Ronald Cotton (Cincinnati, Boone Co.), LHP Joe Sullivan (Cincinnati, Villa Hills), LHP Jeremy Dobbs (Austin Peay, Daviess Co.), LHP Jack Snodgrass (Austin Peay, Bowling Green)

A host of Kentucky high school alumni will return to the Bluegrass State this weekend, led by Cincinnati’s five Kentucky natives. Senior outfielder Justin Riddell is among the Bearcats best hitters and had two home runs against Morehead St. in a midweek game this week, and freshman right-handed pitcher Zach Isler is a valuable bullpen arm. Austin Peay will send Daviess Co. alum Jeremy Dobbs and Bowling Green alum Jack Snodgrass to the mound for starts against Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.

NCAA roundup: Murray St. an Morehead St. both lose

College Baseball

Recaps and highlights from Wednesday Kentucky college baseball action:

  • Murray State University could not get its offense going in a 9-0 shutout loss to Southern Illinois. Junior right-handed pitcher Curran McNeely took the loss after surrendering seven runs on five hits in three innings while striking out four batters and walking one. Just one Murray St. batter tallied multiple hits in the game: sophomore shortstop Brandon Elliott, who was 2-4. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Will Handlin was the only Breds pitcher to last multiple innings without giving up a run, and he surrendered two hits in two scoreless innings. (Box Score)
  • Morehead State University rallied to score 10 runs but could not overcome an early deficit in a 14-10 loss to Cincinnati. Bearcats senior outfielder Justin Riddell, a Lexington Catholic alum, was 3-5 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored. Covington Catholic alum Zach Isler earned the win for Cincinnati after surrendering one run on one hit in two and one-third innings while striking out four batters and walking none. Morehead St. sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson took the loss after surrendering nine runs on nine hits in four innings while striking out six batters and walking one. Junior center fielder and third baseman Andrew Deeds was 4-5 with two RBI and two run scored, and junior catcher Taylor Davis was 1-3 with one home run, three RBI, two runs scored and two walks. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: RF Justin Riddell (Cincinnati, Lexington Catholic)

  • Stats: 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • Honorable Mention: Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Andrew Deeds (Morehead St.), Taylor Davis (Morehead St.), Austin Haney (Morehead St.)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Zach Isler (Cincinnati, Covington Catholic)

  • Stats: 1-0, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Will Handlin (Murray St.), Josh Schneider (Morehead St.)