LEXINGTON, Ky. – After opening up the 2014 season with wins over No. 1 Virginia and at UNC Wilmington, Kentucky will hit the road for a second consecutive week, traveling to Norfolk, Va., for a tournament at Old Dominion, opening up on Friday vs. St. Joseph’s at 12 p.m. ET.
UK will then face ODU on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, before wrapping up its season-long, season-opening seven-game road swing with St. John’s on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.
All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WWTF 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUPS
Kentucky will send the weekend rotation of junior southpaw A.J. Reed (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound on Friday to face St. Joe’s senior right-hander Jordan Carter (3-5, 4.63 ERA in 2013). On Saturday, UK junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.18 ERA) faces off with Old Dominion, who has yet to announce a starting pitcher. Sunday, UK sophomore right-hander Kyle Cody (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will face St. John’s sophomore right-hander Ryan McCormick (0-0, 4.15 ERA).
A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed will be making his 16th consecutive weekend series-opening start on Friday. On Friday, Reed pitched Kentucky to a win over No. 1 Virginia in the season opener, working five innings and allowing just one run on three hits, with three walks and two strikeouts. In his three-year career, Reed a first-team preseason All-America selection by Baseball America, has a 8-11 record and a 3.38 ERA in 31 games and 20 starts, working 141 innings, walking 27 and striking out 105. Carter, a 6-foot-4, 184-pound native of Collegeville, Pa., served as the Hawks’ Saturday starter in 2013, ranking second on the team in innings and third in wins and strikeouts. He owned a 3-5 mark with a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts, tossing 83.2 innings, allowing 100 hits and 15 walks, striking out 54.
Shepherd, a native of Louisa, Ky., will be making his second career weekend start, after working 5.2 strong innings at UNC Wilmington on Saturday. Shepherd carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning vs. the Seahawks, the two-time CAA Champs. He worked four hitless innings to open the season, his first career weekend start, before allowing a leadoff single in the fourth inning. Retired the first eight hitters he faced and was just two hitters over the minimum entering the sixth inning. Ran into trouble with a one-out rally that led to two runs and kept him from his second quality start of his career in the sixth inning with two outs, walking two and allowing three hits in the inning. In his career, Shepherd has worked 45 games with 11 starts, owning a 9-1 record and a 3.30 ERA, with one save. Shepherd has tossed 117.1 innings in his career, allowing 114 hits – 87 singles – walking 35 and striking out 76.
Cody, a native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., made his season debut on Sunday vs. VMI, while working on a strict 60-pitch limit to open the 2014 campaign. He got into the fourth inning, escaping a first-inning jam and allowing three runs in the second inning on two hits and a walk, with UK committing two errors in the frame. Cody, a 6-foot-7, 245-punder, got out of the second-inning jam with a strikeout of the No. 2 hitter, before then rebounding with a quick inning in the third, retiring the 4-5-6 hitters in order and getting a quick out in the fourth at 62 pitches. Retired the final five hitters he faced in his season debut. In his two-year career, Cody – ranked as the seventh-best sophomore in college baseball – has made 16 appearances with 11 starts, owning a 3-3 record and a 4.87 ERA in 61 innings, walking 22 and striking out 50. St. John’s will turn to McCormick, who had a strong relief appearance at Pepperdine on opening weekend. McCormick worked 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and striking out two.
Kentucky opened the 2014 season with four games in four days, with its trip to Wilmington, N.C., an adventure with a storm hitting the east coast. UK adjusted its departure time to beat the storm, leaving at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning and driving for 16 hours to make it to the North Carolina beach. UK posted an 8-3 win over No. 1 Virginia in the season opener on Friday, riding a strong start from A.J. Reed, who worked five innings and allowed just one run. In relief, sophomore lefty Ryne Combs tossed 3.2 innings and was an out shy of recording a four-inning save before UVA struck for two, two-out runs to end his outing. UK was paced by an offensive attack that belted six doubles and stole four bases.
The win over No.1 ranked UVA marked the fourth win over a top-ranked foe in the Gary Henderson era. UK won just one game over a No. 1 ranked team from 2003-08, with Henderson claiming three wins in the last three years vs. No. 1 foes.
On Saturday, UK got a dominating start from junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd in a 10-4 win over UNC Wilmington, the two-time Colonial Athletic Association Champion. Shepherd carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finished an out shy of his second career quality start. UK got a four-RBI game from Reed, who belted a three-run homer into the teeth of a 25-mph wind blowing from right to leftfield. UK was also paced at the plate by a 3-for-3 game from Ka’ai Tom, making his UK debut in leftfield.
UK faced off with VMI on Sunday in a 10 a.m. ET first pitch at Brooks Field, with the Wildcats jumping out to a hefty lead before the Keydets bounced back to take a one-run lead on a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. UK rallied with a game-tying, two-out pinch-hit single from Micheal Thomas and a wild-pitch run from Tom served as the go-ahead run. UK then went to Zach Strecker in relief to try and close out the game, with Strecker getting a groundout to open the game and then an error on a routine grounder put the tying run at second. Strecker then got a slow roller to the left side that went as an infield single with UK shortstop Matt Reida’s throw just not enough to get the runner at first. Strecker then got a tailor-made double-play ball to the left side of the infield, that slide under the glove of UK third baseman Max Kuhn for an error, loading the bases with one out and the walk-off run at second base. Strecker worked the count to 1-2, before a game-winning single was hit up the middle.
Immediately after the game, UK traveled to South Carolina to face USC Upstate on Monday at 1 p.m. ET, the third consecutive year UK has faced Upstate on a Monday on opening weekend. UK jumped out to an early lead but Upstate rallied to tie the game at 4-4 after getting four runs in the bottom of the third inning against starter Dylan Dwyer, who had struck out the side in the first two innings of the game. Upstate took a lead in the sixth inning with a three-run rally, with the Spartans holding off a UK threat for an 8-6 win.
LEADING THE WILDCATS
Kentucky has hit .308 as a team in 2014, slugging .441 with a .398 on-base percentage. UK has belted 13 doubles, two homers and stolen 10 bases. Defensively, UK has fielded .944 through four games, with four double plays turned. On the mound, UK has a 5.24 ERA as a team, walking 15 in 34.1 innings, striking out 32 and holding opponents to a .321 slugging percentage.
Individually, UK has been led by sophomore outfielder Ka’ai Tom’s .625 average to open the year, with the Hawaiian going 5-for-8 with an RBI to open his career. All-American centerfielder Austin Cousino has hit .444 (8-for-18) with two hits in each game, slugging two doubles, one homer and three RBI, stealing two bags. A.J. Reed has hit .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles, one homer and six RBI, with third baseman Max Kuhn batting .353 (6-for-17) with three doubles and two RBI. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett has batted .333 (6-for-18) with a double and three RBI, stealing two bases. Catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .333 with two doubles and two RBI. Freshmen JaVon Shelby and Connor Heady are both 2-for-8 to open their careers, each tallying two RBI.
In the bullpen, UK has been paced in two appearances by junior Spencer Jack (0-0, 0.00) who has worked four innings, allowing three singles and striking out five. Freshman southpaw Logan Salow (0-0, 0.00 ERA) worked 2.1 innings without allowing an earned run in his NCAA debut, striking out five of the seven outs he recorded. Zach Strecker (0-1, 0.00 ERA) has appeared in two games with two outs recorded and two unearned runs scoring. Ryne Combs (0-0, 4.91 ERA) has worked 3.2 innings in relief, with Andrew Nelson (0-0, 5.40 ERA) and Sam Mahar (0-0, 5.40 ERA) each allowing a run in 1.2 innings in relief. Taylor Martin (0-0, 11.57 ERA) has worked 2.1 innings, with Matt Snyder (0-0, 13.50 ERA) and Robert Zeigler (0-1, 81.00 ERA) each making their season debuts on opening weekend.
Kentucky will be facing St. Joe’s for the first time since 1969, with the series tied 1-1. UK won the last meeting, 4-2 in Lexington in 1969, with UK suffering a 13-12 loss in the first meeting in 1968 in Lexington. UK has also faced Old Dominion twice in program history, with the last meeting coming in 1999, a 6-3 ODU win. UK won the first meeting in 1996, 12-8, which came in Wilmington, with the second meeting coming in Charleston, S.C. The Wildcats have faced St. John’s once in program history a 12-5 UK win in the 1988 NCAA Tournament in New Britain, Conn.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
St. Joseph’s had its opening weekend cancelled due to the winter storm that hit the east coast last week. The Hawks had a 26-26 record in 2013, with a 12-12 mark in the Atlantic 10. St. Joe’s hit .262 as a team in 2013, with 27 homers and 51 steals, fielding .962 as a team. On the mound, SJU had a 4.14 ERA, allowing 48 steals.
Old Dominion (1-2) opened the year with a 6-5 loss at Georgia Tech and a 6-3 loss to Virginia Commonwealth, before picking up a 8-7 10-inning win over Radford. The Monarchs hit .223 as a team to open the year, with two homers and 16 runs scored, stealing five bases in three games. Defensively, ODU fielded .9654 with three double plays turned and three steals allowed. On the mound, ODU had a 5.19 ERA in 26 innings, walking nine and striking out 20.
St. John’s (1-2) is coming off an opening weekend in Malibu, Calif., where it played Pepperdine in a competitive three-game series. The Red Storm hit .183 as a team with one homer and seven runs scored, fielding .955. On the mound, St. John’s had a 5.40 ERA as a team with one save in 25 innings, walking 10 and striking out 20.
Kentucky – 2-2, 0-0 SEC
St. Joseph’s – 0-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10
Old Dominion – 1-2, Conference USA
St. John’s – 1-2, 0-0 Big East
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
vs. St. Joseph’s * Friday, Feb. 21 * 12 p.m.
at Old Dominion * Saturday, Feb. 22 * 4 p.m.
vs. St. John’s * Sunday, Feb. 23 * 11 a.m.
Radio (UK IMG Network with Dick Gabriel)
Friday, February 14
• WWTF 1580-AM in Lexington
Saturday, February 15
• WWTF 1580-AM in Lexington
Sunday, February 16
• WWTF 1580-AM in Lexington
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. St. Joseph’s
So., LHP A.J. Reed (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Sr., RHP Jordan Carter (3-5, 4.63 ERA in 2013)
Saturday at Old Dominion
Jr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday vs. St. John’s
So., RHP Kyle Cody (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. So., RHP Ryan McCormick (0-0, 4.15 ERA)