WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Baseball Wildcats open home season Friday

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Riding a 20-game non-conference home winning streak that dates back to 2007, the No. 29 Kentucky baseball team opens its 2009 home schedule with a four-game set against the Western Michigan Broncos, beginning Friday at 4 p.m. ET at UK’s Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with the Voice of UK baseball, Neil Price calling the action. Price will call the action Friday in the home opener, with veteran sportscaster Dick Gabriel resuming play-calling duties for the remainder of the weekend. Fans in Lexington can catch the action live on WGVN 1580-AM.

Kentucky (2-2) has not lost a home game in non-conference play in 690 days, dating back to a loss to Morehead State on April 11, 2007. UK posted a perfect 19-0 record in non-league play at Cliff Hagan Stadium in 2008.

The Wildcats are coming off a season-opening weekend in the Caravelle Resort Invitational, a weekend that saw UK post wins over traditional powers Troy and James Madison. UK suffered back-to-back losses at No. 22 Coastal Carolina, the 2008 NCAA Conway Regional Champion. The match-up between then No. 19 UK and No. 22 Coastal Carolina marked just the second match-up of top-25 teams Saturday or Sunday, joining No. 24 Florida’s matchup with No. 8 Louisville.

Western Michigan (0-3) opened its season with three losses at Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend. The Broncos, the Baseball America preseason pick to win the Western Division of the Mid-American Conference, was led offensively by Chris Lewis (.417 avg., 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI) and Derek Mosher (.400, HR, 4 BB) against the Golden Owls. On the mound, Baseball America tabbed starters Brian Stroud and Billy Morrison as preseason All-MAC starting pitchers. Stroud posted a 3.60 ERA in his start last weekend, working in five innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, walking three and striking out eight. Morrison, tabbed by Baseball America as the fourth-best 2009 MLB Draft prospect in the MAC, allowed six hits and six runs in his three-inning, season-opening start, striking out three and walking three.

Offensively, UK has been led in its opening four games by its speedy leadoff man, junior center fielder Keenan Wiley, who has hit .385 (5-for-13), while drawing three walks to two strikeouts. Sophomore infielder Chris Bisson has also added three hits in each of the three games he has played, while freshman Cory Farris leads UK with six RBI. Gunner Glad, Spencer Korus and Braden Kapetyn each tallied a home run in Myrtle Beach at the round-robin invitational.

On the bump, UK will turn to junior southpaw James Paxton to start the season home-opening game. Paxton, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, opened UK’s 105th season with a 5.2 inning gem against Troy, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first nine batters faced. Paxton allowed only two runs, striking out six without issuing a free pass. In the second game, UK will hand the ball to senior lefty Chris Rusin, a member of the 2009 Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List. In UK’s third game, freshman Sean Bouthilette will make his second career start, a week after going five shutout innings in his first career appearance. Bouthilette, a right-hander from Elizabethtown, Ky., allowed only two hits in his debut, striking out three and walking one. The Wildcats have yet to announce a starter for the series finale on Sunday.

Kentucky has won six consecutive home openers, dating back to a setback against Miami (Ohio) on March 1, 2002. Last season, UK totaled a 15-5 win over Oakland in its home opener, part of a school-record 19-0 start to the campaign.

The Wildcats own a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series, winning three of the last five meetings between the two schools. WMU posted a win in the finale of a two-game set in 2002.

Records

Kentucky – 2-2, 0-0 SEC

Western Michigan – 0-3, 0-0 MAC

Rankings

Kentucky – No. 29 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 30 (NCBWA), Receiving Votes (USA Today/ESPN)

Western Michigan – not ranked

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

Friday, Feb. 27 * vs. Western Michigan * 4 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 28 * vs. Western Michigan * Noon

Saturday, Feb. 28 * Western Michigan * 2 p.m.

Sunday, March 1 * Western Michigan * 1 p.m.

Radio (BBSN with Neil Price/Dick Gabriel)

Friday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington

Saturday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington

Saturday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington

Sunday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington

Internet Coverage

Kentucky: Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com

Tentative Pitching Matchups

Friday vs. Western Michigan

LHP James Paxton (Jr., 1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. TBA

Saturday vs. Western Michigan

LHP Chris Rusin (Sr., 0-1, 10.38 ERA) vs. TBA

Saturday vs. Western Michigan

RHP Sean Bouthilette (Fr., 1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBA

Sunday vs. Western Michigan

TBA vs. TBA


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