LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of a school-record 19 consecutive home games and two days after ascending to No. 1 for the first time in the history of the program, top-ranked Kentucky will host Dayton in a midweek match, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (27-2, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) has won a school-record 19 consecutive games at Cliff Hagan Stadium to open up the season, eclipsing the previous record of 16 consecutive home wins in 2006 and 2007. UK leads the nation in wins, sits alone atop the SEC standings, owns a No. 4 projected NCAA RPI and has soared to a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in school annals.
The Wildcats opened the season on a school-best 22-game winning streak, tying for the second-longest winning streak in the storied history of the SEC. UK has opened up conference play with three consecutive series wins, including a home series victory over the two-time defending NCAA Champions, No. South Carolina, and road series wins at No. 18 Georgia and Tennessee.
Last weekend, UK posted a series victory at Georgia, the first series win for UK since the 2000 season. Despite UK’s school-record win totals in 2006 and 2008, the Wildcats suffered a series loss in Athens, Ga., in 2006 and were swept in 2008 at Foley Field. UK suffered a 7-6 loss in the series opener for the second consecutive weekend, before rallying to win the final two games of the series, with a 9-8 win in game two and an 11-2 smashing in the series rubber match Sunday.
UK will turn to freshman right-hander Chandler Shepherd (2-0, 3.33 ERA) for his sixth career start on Wednesday against Dayton. Shepherd has appeared in six games with five starts in his collegiate debut season, tossing 24.1 innings, allowing 25 hits, walking seven and striking out 16. Dayton, which plays a Tuesday game at IPFW, has yet to officially announce a starting pitcher.
UK freshmen Austin Cousino and A.J. Reed lead the Wildcats in hitting, with Reed boasting a .359 mark with seven doubles, two homers and 30 RBI. Cousino has a .358 average with 10 doubles, one triple, five homers, 24 RBI and six steals. Lucas Witt has hit .353, while outfielder Cameron Flynn leads the club with seven homers, hitting .333 with five doubles and 21 RBI. Second baseman J.T. Riddle has batted .330 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 21 RBI, with catcher Luke Maile hitting .321 with six doubles, six homers and 30 RBI, leading the team with 18 walks and seven steals. Catcher Michael Williams has hit .310 with 22 RBI, while outfielder Zac Zellers owns a .305 mark with six doubles, one triple, three homers and 11 RBI.
On the mound, UK’s weekend rotation of Taylor Rogers (4-1, 4.65 ERA), Jerad Grundy (3-0, 3.41 ERA) and Corey Littrell (4-0, 1.88 ERA) have helped spear the record start to 2012. In the bullpen, Trevor Gott (1-0, 1.59 ERA) has six saves, while Tim Peters (2-0, 2.51 ERA) has appeared in a club best 15 games, with Alex Phillips (4-0, 2.16 ERA), Sam Mahar (1-1, 2.77 ERA) and Walter Wijas (2-0, 6.75) in over 10 games in relief.
Kentucky’s explosive offensive attack leads the SEC average (.325), on-base percentage (.421), runs (228), hits (323), RBI (208), doubles (60) and hit batters (57). On the mound, UK owns a 3.26 ERA as a club, with 257 innings pitched, 72 walks and 254 strikeouts. UK’s .979 fielding percentage ranks third in the SEC.
Dayton (11-17, 3-3 Atlantic 10) has been led by its impressive offensive numbers, batting .294 as a club, with 55 doubles, 18 homers and 165 RBI, stealing 82 bases. On the mound, the Flyers have a 5.85 ERA as a team, with 186 strikeouts and 107 walks in 253.2 innings pitched. The Flyers will face IPFW in Indianapolis on Tuesday, before facing UK Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Individually, Brian Blasik owns a team-high .342 average with 15 doubles, one triple, one homer and 22 RBI, stealing 16 bases. C.J. Gillman has hit .336 with four doubles, one homer and a team-high 28 RBI, stealing nine bases. Bobby Glover has a .322 average with eight doubles, three triples, a team-high six homers and 21 RBI, stealing 15 bases. A.J. Ryan owns a .320 average with four doubles, two homers and 23 RBI, while Ian Hundley has hit .301 with a double, one triple, one homer and six RBI.
In the bullpen, Tommy Konrad (3-1, 5.22 ERA) has made a team-best 15 appearances, tossing 29.1 innings, walking 12 and striking out 21. Matthew Miller (1-2, 7.36 ERA) has appeared in 10 games with one start, tossing 14.2 innings.
Kentucky – 27-2, 7-2 SEC
Dayton – 11-17, 3-3 Atlantic 10
Kentucky: No. 1 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 8 (Baseball America), No. 4 (USA Today/ESPN coaches), No. 7 (NCBWA)
Dayton: not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, April 4 * vs. Dayton * 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio (UK IMG Radio Network with Neil Price)
Tuesday: WLAP 630-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Live video, audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Wednesday vs. Dayton
Fr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (2-0, 3.33 ERA) vs. TBA