LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 24 Kentucky baseball team will continue its season-long, seven-game road trip with a midweek matchup with Western Kentucky on Tuesday, with first pitch at Bowling Green Ballpark slated for 7 p.m. ET.
UK will be meeting the Toppers for the second time this year, with WKU owning a 6-3 win on March 19 in Lexington. The game will be played for the third straight time in Bowling Green, Ky., at the low class A home of the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The stadium which debut in 2010, has seen two consecutive WKU wins in the rivalry game, with a state record 6,183 fans attending the 2010 meeting. In the 2011 meeting at BG Ballpark, 5,142 fans attended an offensive explosion in a WKU, 11-8 win that saw each team put up an eight-run frame.
The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (24-15) will send freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (3-2, 6.21 ERA) to the mound for the start against the Hilltoppers junior righty Just Hageman (1-1, 6.46 ERA). Cody will be making his seventh start in his 12th appearance on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7, 230-pounder has worked 33.1 innings, allowing 35 hits and 10 walks, striking out 29. In his last start vs. No. 8 Louisville last Tuesday, Cody worked four innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs, walking one and striking out four on 82 pitches. Cody started on March 19 vs. Western Kentucky, suffering his first career loss in 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and five runs, walking four and striking out seven. Hageman has appeared in 10 games with two starts, working 15.1 innings, allowing 17 hits and 14 walks, striking out 14. Hageman’s last outing came on Saturday in relief vs. South Carolina in Mobile, Ala., getting an out in the eighth inning.
The Wildcats have hit .270 as a team, with a .379 slugging and a .377 on-base percentage, stealing 48 bases. Defensively, UK has fielded .968, turning 43 double plays, picking off nine runners and allowing only 19 steals in 31 attempts. On the mound, UK has a 3.39 ERA in 347.1 innings, allowing 98 walks and striking out 279.
Individually, freshman Kyle Barrett has led the team with a .352 average, with four doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and four steals. Sophomore A.J. Reed has hit .318 with six doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 44 RBI, with junior J.T. Riddle batting .301 with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 18 RBI. Centerfielder Austin Cousino has batted .268 with a club-best nine doubles, one triple, four homers and 22 RBI, stealing 12-of-13 bases. Third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .257 with seven doubles, one triple, three homers, 24 RBI and six steals. Zac Zellers has hit .256 with two homers and 20 RBI, while catcher Micheal Thomas has batted .255 with two homers and 18 RBI.
In relief, senior Walter Wijas (2-0, 0.83 ERA) has appeared in a team-best 20 games, working 21.2 innings, striking out 20 and walking just four. Junior Trevor Gott (4-1, 1.19 ERA) has nine saves in 18 outings, striking out 26 in 22.2 frames. Freshmen Zach Strecker (1-0, 0.84 ERA), Ryne Combs (0-0, 1.50 ERA) and Dylan Dwyer (1-0, 4.76 ERA) have each appeared in at least 10 games, with sophomore Chandler Shepherd (2-0, 3.82 ERA) appearing in 16 games.
WKU (21-19) is coming off a series loss at South Alabama over the weekend, with the Hilltoppers picking up the win in the opener, before falling in the final two games of the series. WKU has hit .265 as a team in 2013, with 24 homers, a .375 slugging and a .353 on-base percentage, stealing 20 bases. Defensively, WKU has a .963 fielding percentage, turning 29 double plays, picking off 18 runners and allowing 34-of-61 steal attempts. On the mound, WKU has a 4.03 ERA in 357.2 innings, walking 163 and striking out 335.
Individually, WKU has been led by its slugging first baseman, Ryan Huck, who has hit .341 with eight doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI. Scott Wilcox has hit .319 with 10 doubles and 18 RBI, with Ryan Messex batting .316 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBI. Regan Flaherty has batted .280 with 11 doubles, one triple, one homer and 26 RBI. Devin Kelly has hit .259 with six doubles, four homers and 22 RBI, stealing four bases.
In relief for WKU, Taylor Haydel (0-1, 3.10 ERA) has five saves in a staff-best 18 outings, tossing 20.1 innings, walking seven and striking out 13. Ian Tompkins (3-4, 2.13 ERA) has appeared in 17 games with three saves, working 25.1 innings, allowing only 14 hits – 10 singles – walking 21 and striking out 40. Brennan Pearson (1-0, 2.79 ERA), Jake Thompson (2-3, 3.49 ERA), Josh Bartley (2-0, 4.26 ERA) and Tate Glasscock (0-0, 7.00 ERA) have each appeared in at least nine games.
On March 19 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, UK fell to the Toppers, 6-3. WKU jumped out with three runs in the first inning, with UK getting a run in the second, before WKU notched two in the fifth. UK got a run in the bottom of the frame but could not complete the ninth-inning comeback. Kyle Cody worked 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and five runs in the start, walking four and striking out seven. Zach Strecker, Dylan Dwyer, Chandler Shepherd, Ryne Combs and Walter Wijas each worked in relief, with Shepherd logging 2.1 innings and Combs working 1.1 shutout frames. UK got two-hit games from J.T. Riddle, Max Kuhn, Kyle Barrett and Matt Reida.
In the last meeting at Bowling Green Ballpark in 2011, WKU posted an 11-8 win in a wild contest in front of 5,142. After WKU plated single runs in the second and third innings, UK rallied for an eight-run frame in the fourth. WKU answered with a run in the fifth, before winning the game with an 11-run tally in the seventh, as UK used four relievers to get out of the frame. UK got a quality start from Jordan Cooper, who worked six strong innings, allowing eight hits and three runs, striking out eight. WKU started Taylor Haydel, who worked three innings with three runs allowed. Thomas McCarthy and Brian Adams each had three hits, with Taylor Black and Luke Maile belting homers as part of three-RBI games.
The Wildcats have dropped out of the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball poll for the first time of 2013, falling to No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches top 25. UK is also ranked No. 25 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll and No. 24 in the Perfect Game USA top 25. UK is currently No. 27 in the NCAA RPI projections on BoydsWorld.com, with seven games remaining against teams ranked ahead of UK in the RPI.
Western Kentucky: 21-19
Kentucky: No. 24 (USA Today/ESPN), No. 24 (Perfect Game), No. 25 (NCBWA)
Western Kentucky: not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Bowling Green, Ky.
Tuesday, April 23 * at Western Kentucky * 7 p.m.
Radio (UK IMG Network with Neil Price)
Tuesday: WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Tuesday at Western Kentucky
Fr., RHP Kyle Cody (3-2, 6.21 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Justin Hegeman (1-1, 6.46 ERA)
Bowling Green Ballpark