WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

UK hosts Ole Miss in crucial season finale

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The two top pitching teams in the Southeastern Conference square off in the season-finale - a three-game set ripe with post-season implications - as the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats host the Ole Miss Rebels in a three-game set, beginning on Thursday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (39-14, 14-13 SEC) enters the weekend in a four-way tie for the fourth seed in the SEC Tournament, with only one team – SEC Champion Georgia – assured of a spot in the tournament. With the conference in a log-jam behind the Bulldogs, 10 of the remaining 11 teams are still in the hunt for a spot in the Hoover, Ala., conference tournament.

Riding a five-game winning streak, UK’s longest since winning 19 games to open the season, the Wildcats have claimed wins in eight of its past 11 games.

The game can be found live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK baseball, Neil Price calling the action. In Lexington, the game can be found on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. Also, Thursday’s game will also be televised live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel (Play-by-Play), Doug Flynn (Color) and Ryan Lemond (Sideline) calling the action. The game can be found on the entire FSN South (Insight-Lexington Channel 52) footprint, consisting of 12 million homes. The broadcast can also be found delayed at 11 p.m. ET on C-WKTY (Insight-Lexington Channel 5).

The Wildcats are fresh off a series sweep over Tennessee last weekend, pounding the Vols 29-11 during UK’s first sweep in Knoxville in 20 years. The road series win was UK’s second consecutive road series victory, as UK posted a series win at then-No. 10 ranked Vanderbilt during the last weekend in April.

UK enters the series after wrapping up its non-conference season with a staggering 25-1 record after a win in front of a school-record crowd at Murray State. The Wildcats have played in front of five school-record crowds in 2008, including four non-conference road games.

Kentucky has been led by one of the best offenses in all of college baseball, with the Wildcats ranking among the league leaders in every category except at bats and strikeouts. UK leads the SEC in average (.323), slugging (.529), on-base percentage (.418), runs scored (440), hits (587), RBI (397), and total bases (962). The Wildcats rank second in doubles and walks, placing third in home runs and fifth in stolen bases. On the mound, UK ranks as the league leader in ERA (3.45), ranking second in the SEC in fielding percentage (.975).

UK’s two National Player of the Year award candidates, Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill have led the Wildcats at the plate, putting up monster numbers, threatening a bevy of school-records. Carroll leads the SEC in batting average (.406), ranking fourth in slugging (.726), fifth in on-base percentage (.498), ninth in runs scored (53), fourth in hits (80), second in RBI (69), sixth in doubles (17), eighth in home runs (14), fourth in total bases (143) and ninth in walks (34).

Cowgill, a 5-foot-9, five-tool outfielder, ranks sixth in the SEC in average (.378), third in slugging (.740), fourth in on-base percentage (.498), second in runs scored (69), ninth in hits (74), fifth in RBI (54), third in home runs (18), third in total bases (145), third in walks (43) and fifth in stolen bases (19).

Freshman shortstop Chris Wade leads the SEC in doubles, cranking out 20 two baggers, while ranking second in the league in sac bunts. Senior Ryan Wilkes ranks seventh in average (.377) and 10th in slugging (.600). Senior catcher Tyler Howe leads the NCAA with 26 hit by pitches.

With 18 home runs on the year, Cowgill sits tied with John Wilson (200) and John Shelby (2006) for ninth-place in season history. Cowgill needs five runs scored to become the record holder in runs scored in a season, and with 36 career homers, Cowgill sits tied for sixth-place all-time. Carroll sits three points shy of the school record for career batting average, as well as needing just eight RBI to tie the school record for RBI in a season, 77, set by 2006 SEC Player of the Year Ryan Strieby.

Kentucky will send its weekend trio to the mound, beginning with one of the top pitchers in the NCAA on Thursday, southpaw Chris Rusin (5-2, 2.74 ERA). Rusin, a junior who ranks second in the SEC in innings pitched (75.2), also ranks as the second-best ERA in the SEC among pitchers with at least one inning pitched per team game. Friday, James Paxton (3-2, 3.15 ERA) will get the start for the Wildcats and the UK record holder for career winning percentage, Greg Dombrowski (5-0, 3.57 ERA) will get the nod on Saturday.

Ole Miss (33-20, 14-13 SEC) enters the weekend with one of the top pitching staffs in all of college baseball, as its three-man weekend rotation are all potential first-round picks. Two members of the staff sport a summer on Team USA on its resume, right-handers Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite. Lynn (6-2, 3.68 ERA), will get the starting assignment on Thursday, with lefty Drew Pomeranz (4-2, 3.66 ERA) and Satterwhite (3-5, 5.01 ERA) finishing of the series. With a 3.63 team ERA, Ole Miss ranks second to UK, ranking second to Vanderbilt in strikeouts. Closer Scott Bittle (5-1, 1.48 ERA) has posted amazing numbers out of the bullpen, striking out 99 in 54.2 innings, earning seven saves. Offensively, Fuller Smith (.354, 7 HR, 27 RBI), Cody Overbeck (.353, 14 HR, 47 RBI), Logan Power (.347, 8 HR, 42 RBI) and Zach Miller (.303, HR, 19 RBI) all pace an Ole Miss offense that hits for a .300 average. Catcher Brett Basham (.287, 2 HR, 29 RBI) is one of top catchers in the SEC, leading the league with 22 runners caught stealing.

Ole Miss leads the all-time series between the two schools, 23-31, including trailing UK 15-12 in Lexington. UK has claimed wins vs. Ole Miss in five of the past six meetings, after losing six straight from 2002-03. Last year, UK got the series in Oxford with a rubber-match win on Sunday, 9-7. The Wildcats have won the past two series with Ole Miss.

Records

Kentucky – 39-14, 14-13 SEC

Ole Miss – 33-20, 14-13 SEC

Rankings

Kentucky – No. 23 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 20 (NCBWA), No. 21 (Baseball America), No. 24 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll).

Ole Miss – not ranked

Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) – Lexington, Ky.

Thursday, May 15 * 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 16 * 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 17 * 1:00 p.m.

Radio (BBSN with Neil Price)

Thursday, May 15 * 6:30 p.m.

· Lexington: WLAP 630-AM

· Louisville: WKJK 1080-AM

Friday, May 16 * 6:30 p.m.

· Lexington: WLAP 630-AM

· Louisville: WKJK 1080-AM

Sunday, May 17 * 1:00 p.m.

· Lexington: WLAP 630-AM

· Louisville: WKJK 1080-AM

Television (BBSN with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond)

Thursday, April 2

· CWKYT (Insight-Lexington Channel 5) Delayed at 11 p.m. ET

· FSN South (Insight-Lexington Channel 52)

Tentative Pitching Matchups

Thursday vs. Ole Miss

LHP Chris Rusin (Jr., 5-2, 2.74 ERA) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (Jr., 6-2, 3.68 ERA)

Friday vs. Ole Miss

LHP James Paxton (So., 3-2, 3.15 ERA) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (Fr., 4-2, 3.66 ERA)

Sunday vs. Ole Miss

RHP Greg Dombrowski (Sr., 5-0, 3.57 ERA) vs. RHP Cody Satterwhite (Jr., 3-5, 5.01 ERA)

Stadium

Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)

Promotions

Friday night – Senior Night

Nine seniors, leaving as the all-time winningest four-year group in program history … Andrew Albers, Brock Baber, Sawyer Carroll, Greg Dombrowski, Tyler Howe, Aaron Lovett, Brian Spear, Tommy Warner and Ryan Wilkes

Saturday

Armed Forces Day - Free admission for all active duty, reserve members, and veterans of the United States Armed Forces and their family members with Armed Forces ID.

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

Call the ticket office in advance and pre-order your tickets for just $2 each … 1-800-928-CATS. ($5 regular price)

Parking

Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is free.

We will utilize two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center the R-Lot adjacent to the stadium, and brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. Both parking lots are only steps away from Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Fans who park in the PS7 lot will be given a parking value card to exit the structure free of charge. Value cards should be picked up at the baseball ticket booth prior to the fifth inning.

Tickets

SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors


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