LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Winners of seven consecutive games, the No. 7 Kentucky baseball team will host a pair of midweek games before its final non-conference weekend, welcoming Cincinnati for a 4 p.m. ET first pitch on Tuesday and Xavier on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. ET first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Both games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Neil Price calling the action on Tuesday and Dick Gabriel voicing the game on Wednesday. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WWTF 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (10-1) moved up a spot to No. 7 in the Collegiate Baseball top-30 poll on Monday, also advancing to No. 11 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and No. 10 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-30. UK stayed at No. 11 in the Baseball America top-25 on Monday.
The Wildcats are coming off a three-game sweep of Akron during the weekend, outscoring the Zips 37-4 during UK’s first home weekend. UK also posted midweek wins over Murray State and Eastern Kentucky to open UK’s 2013 home schedule, with the Wildcats the next-to-last Southeastern Conference team to begin the home schedule.
During the five-game week, UK was sparked by two-way standout sophomore A.J. Reed, who was named SEC Player of the Week and Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week. Reed, a native of Terre Haute, Ind., collected 15 RBI and belted three homers during the stretch, with a .526 average (10-for-19), adding a double. On the mound, Reed worked a quality start in a win on Friday vs. the Zips, striking out four in six innings.
UK will send freshman southpaw Ryne Combs (0-0, 1.42 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday for his second career start, facing Cincinnati freshman right-hander Mitch Patishall (0-0, 0.00 ERA). The 2012 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball out of Bryan Station, Combs has appeared in three games with one start, coming on Wednesday vs. Eastern Kentucky. The six-foot, 185-pound lefty has pitched 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits and one run, walking one and striking out three. In his start vs. EKU, Combs worked 3.1 shutout innings, surrendering six hits, walking one and striking out two. Patishall, a 5-foot-11, 194-pounder out of Pendleton, Ind., has appeared in two games in relief for the Bearcats, tossing three innings. He has allowed two hits and walked four, striking out three and holding opponents to a .222 average.
On Wednesday vs. Xavier, Kentucky will send freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (0-0, 11.25 ERA) to the mound for his second career start. Cody has appeared in three games with one start, tossing four innings, allowing eight hits and six runs – five earned – walking two and striking out three. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Cody started UK’s home opener vs. Murray State on Tuesday, working 2.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs – three earned – walking two and striking out two.
Kentucky extended its winning streak to seven with the five wins during the week, despite battling weather conditions throughout the week. The Wildcats opened the home schedule with an 11-5 win over Murray State on Tuesday and got a 6-2 win over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday. UK then pounded Akron, 21-2 in the home opener, clinched the series with a 7-0 win on Saturday and swept the Zips with a 9-2 win on Sunday. UK hit .337 during the week and fielding .974, posting a 1.40 ERA on the mound.
The Wildcats have batted .324 as a team through 11 games, with seven homers and 113 runs scored, stealing 23 bases. Defensively, UK – riding a three-game stretch without an error and a two-game stretch without a walk – has fielded .974 with seven double plays. On the mound, UK had a 2.57 ERA in 98 innings, walking only 27 and striking out 87, with opponents hitting .255, stealing only 3-of-7 bases and UKL picking off four runners.
UK has been led individually by junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who has hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing three bases and reaching base at a .527 clip. Two-way star Reed has hit .409 (18-for-44) with a double, triple and four homers, driving in 22 RBI and spotting a .750 slugging mark. Catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .400 (10-for-25) with nine runs and eight RBI, while Max Kuhn has a .33 average (13-for-39) with two doubles, one triple and 12 RBI, stealing five bags. All-America centerfielder Austin Cousino has batted .311 (14-for-45) with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBI, stealing five bags. Shortstop Matt Reida has hit .289 (11-for-38) with a double and five RBI, while Paul McConkey has hit .280 (7-for-25) with two doubles and a triple. Zac Zellers has hit .263 (10-for-38) with a double and five RBI, while Lucas Witt has added a .250 average (9-for-36) with 10 runs and 10 RBI, stealing four bags.
On the mound, UK’s weekend rotation of Reed (2-1, 4.70 ERA) on Friday, senior southpaw Jerad Grundy (3-0, 0.43 ERA) and junior lefty Corey Littrell (1-0, 4.32 ERA) have been solid, with Grundy coming off a 12-strikeout performance on Saturday. UK has used freshman Zach Strecker (0-0, 3.38 ERA) a team-high five times, with junior right-hander Trevor Gott (2-0, 0.00 ERA) saving a game in his four relief outings, striking out eight in 5.1 frames. Sophomore right-hander Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 2.45 ERA) has worked in four games in relief, tossing 11 innings with 10 strikeouts. Dylan Dwyer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Walter Wijas (1-0, 0.00 ERA) have each worked in four games in relief.
Cincinnati (4-5) has hit .257 as a team through nine games, with five homers and 61 runs scored, owning a .365 slugging and a .367 on-base percentage. The Bearcats have stolen 17 bases and fielded .953 as a club, turning six double plays. UC opened the year with a series sweep at the hands of FAU in Boca Raton, Fla., before traveling to Greenville, S.C., for the First Pitch Invite, winning the finale vs. Western Carolina and suffering losses to Michigan State and Furman. Last weekend, UC opened its home schedule with a sweep of New York Tech at Marge Schott Stadium. Individually, Jeff Murray has led the team with a .333 average through eight games, with a double and two RBI. Devin Wenzel has hit .306 with a double, two homers and 10 RBI, stealing three bags. Justin Glass has hit .306 with a double, homer and five RBI, stealing three bases. Ian Happ owns a .286 mark with two doubles, one triple, one homer and four RBI, stealing two bases. In the bullpen, UC has had a team-high four relief appearances from Thomas Gentile (1-0, 1.80 ERA), tossing 10 innings, walking six and striking out 11. Matthew Lathuras (0-0, 0.90 ERA), Bryan Chenoweth (1-1, 2.25 ERA) and Ryan Atkinson (0-0, 3.86 ERA) have each appeared in three games in relief.
Xavier (3-6) has hit .277 as a team in nine games with a homer and 46 runs scored, posting a .372 slugging and a .343 on-base percentage, stealing six bases and fielding .960. On the mound, XU has a 4.68 ERA with a pair of saves in 75 innings, walking 45 and striking out 46. The Musketeers are coming off a series loss at Georgia Southern over the weekend, winning the series opener, 11-4, before falling the final two games. XU previously fell in three-game series at UAB and Charleston, picking up a win in each set. Individually, Mark Elwell has hit .400 with six doubles and seven RBI. Brian Bruening has hit .385 with a triple, four RBI and three steals. Joe Forney has a .364 average with a double and two RBI, with Selby Chidemo sporting a .318 average with a steal. In the bullpen, XU has been led by a three relief outings from Zach Johnson (0-0, 3.00 ERA), Alex Vice (0-0, 3.00 ERA), Alex Westrick (0-2, 3.38 ERA) and Jacob Bodner (0-1, 10.12 ERA).Johnson and Vice each have a save, with Westrick working 13.1 innings, with 10 walks and 10 strikeouts.
UK leads the all-time series with Cincinnati, 56-29-2, including a 37-13-1 all-time record in games played in Lexington. UK has won four consecutive meetings in the series, last falling in 2009 in Lexington, 12-6. Last year, UK swept the two-game series with UC, picking up a 10-7 win in Cincinnati at Marge Schott Stadium, getting the sixth homer of the year from Luke Maile and a 5.2 inning start from Shepherd. Maile went 3-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored, while Thomas McCarthy collected a 4-for-5 outing. UC started Grant Walker, who worked 3.2 innings, allowing seven hits and five runs – four earned – walking two and striking out two. UK won the returning meeting in Lexington in mid-April, getting six shutout innings out of starter Sam Mahar, who allowed only two hits and struck out five. Cousino, Maile and Riddle each belted homers, with McCarthy adding a 2-for-3 game. Brad Mergen started for UC, working 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, walking three and striking out two.
The Wildcats lead the all-time series with Xavier, 30-8, including a 20-6 record in games played in Lexington. UK has won 10 consecutive meetings in the series, last falling to XU in 1998, 11-5 in Lexington. UK picked up a 9-2 win over Xavier on Feb. 29, 2012, as Shepherd turned in a strong five inning start in his first career starting assignment, allowing only two hits and one walk, striking out five. Mahar worked an inning in relief, with Jeff Boehm and Wijas combining to finish out the ninth. Cousino went 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Maile and McCarthy each belting a homer. Maile went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a walk.