LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Owning a 22-2 record in non-conference games, No. 7 Kentucky will hit the road for a midweek matchup at Indiana, facing off with the Hoosiers at Sembower Field on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (37-11, 15-9 Southeastern Conference) breaks from its SEC Championship race for the next-to-last non-conference game of the regular-season. The Wildcats have posted a sparkling 22-2 record in non-conference games in 2012, also owning league series wins over No. 2 South Carolina, Tennessee, No. 18 Georgia, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 9 Arkansas and No. 1 LSU. UK will enter its final home SEC weekend trailing the SEC Title race by one game, sitting behind South Carolina and LSU, a pair of teams UK owns series wins over. UK has only two losses in non-conference games in 2012, falling in a pair of tilts with top-20 foe Louisville.
The Wildcats are coming off a series defeat at the hands of two-time defending SEC Champion and CWS participant, No. 5 Florida, the preseason consensus No. 1 team in the nation. UK suffered losses in the first two games, before rebounding for a 2-1 win over the Gators behind a heroic pitching effort from starter Corey Littrell
The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available in Lexington on WGVN 1580-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky will send freshman right-hander Chandler Shepherd (3-0, 4.17 ERA) to the mound for his seventh career start in 13 outings. A native of Louisa, Ky., and the consensus top prospect in the state out of Lawrence County High School, Shepherd has been highly effective as a midweek starter. His lone blemish came in an outing where he lasted 0.2 innings, allowing four hits and four runs. After that start, Shepherd was used with great effectiveness as a key weekend reliever, making strong relief outings vs. Arkansas and LSU. In his 13 appearances in 2012, Shepherd has tossed 36.2 innings, allowing 41 hits and 10 walks, striking out 23. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Halstead (3-2, 5.61 ERA) will face off with Shepherd in his third start of the year. Halstead has been one of IU’s go-to relievers, making a team-best 17 appearances. He has tossed 33.2 innings, allowing 37 hits and 11 walks, striking out 20.
The Wildcats have been paced by an explosive offensive attack that leads the SEC in nearly every offensive category. UK has hit .304 as a team with 98 doubles, 49 homers and 318 runs scored. On the mound, UK boasts a 3.63 ERA with 15 saves in 424 innings, walking 120 and striking out 369.
Individually, UK has been led by freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino, who has hit .345 with 18 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 37 RBI, stealing 11 bases in 11 attempts. Catcher Luke Maile has hit .326 with 10 doubles, 11 homers and 45 RBI, stealing nine bags. Third baseman Thomas McCarthy has hit .309 with 15 doubles, five homers and 26 RBI. Outfielder Zac Zellers owns a .304 mark with nine doubles, five homers and 18 RBI, while freshman A.J. Reed has hit .297 with nine doubles, three homers and 39 RBI. Outfielder Cameron Flynn owns a .286 average with eight doubles, nine homers and 31 RBI, while catcher Michael Williams has hit .285 with six doubles, two homers and 27 RBI. Second baseman J.T. Riddle owns a .274 mark with nine doubles, four homers and 30 RBI, while shortstop Matt Reida has hit .256 with eight doubles, one homer and 17 RBI.
In the bullpen, UK has been led by USA Baseball Golden Spikes Player of the Year Award watch list member Trevor Gott (1-0, 2.87 ERA), who has a school-record nine saves in 10 chances. Gott has tossed 15.2 innings in his 18 outings, striking out 23. Senior Alex Phillips (5-2, 2.93 ERA) has five saves in 21 relief outings, tossing 43 innings, allowing 28 hits and striking out 33. Tim Peterson (3-0, 2.66 ERA) has appeared in a staff-high 23 games with one save, tossing 23.2 innings with four walks and 27 strikeouts. Freshman lefty Sam Mahar (3-3, 3.09 ERA) has tossed 32 innings with 29 strikeouts in his 17 appearances, while right-hander Walter Wijas (2-0, 5.75 ERA) has appeared in 17 games and Reed (4-1, 3.52 ERA) appearing in 12 games with four starts.
Several Wildcats are on midseason watch lists, including McCarthy on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Gott and Maile on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, Littrell on the College Baseball Hall of Fame NCAA Pitcher of the Year Watch List and Gott on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Stopper of the Year Watch List. Cousino also became the third UK player in program history to be named to the USA Collegiate National Team, joining the 2012 22-man roster.
UK has moved in the rankings on Monday, checking in No. 7 in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls. UK also ranks No. 9 in the NCBWA and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ top 25 rankings.
Indiana (24-24, 11-7 Big Ten) sits in second place in the Big Ten, with the Hoosiers sitting at the .500 winning percentage entering the midweek tilt. IU has hit .268 as a team in 2012 with 87 doubles, 33 homers and 272 runs scored. On the mound, IU owns a 4.90 ERA with 10 saves in 429.2 innings, allowing 511 hits and 176 walks, striking out 318.
IU has been led offensively by Sam Travis, who has a .337 average with 14 doubles, eight homers and 43 RBI. Michael Basil is the other IU hitter over .300, with a .301 average with 10 doubles, three homers and 29 RBI. IU boasts one of the top collegiate players in the nation, infielder Micah Johnson, who has been limited to 12 games in his junior season due to injury. In the bullpen, Jonny Hoffman (4-1, 2.93 ERA) has also appeared in 20 games with five saves in 43 innings. Matt Dearden (1-6, 5.08 Era) has appeared in 20 games with three saves in 33.2 innings.
UK leads the all-time series with Indiana, 17-15, with the series tied 4-4 in games played in Bloomington. UK has won three of the last four meetings, with the loss coming in a wild 18-17 setback in 2009, when the Hoosiers walked off with the win in a wind-blown day at Sembower Field.
Kentucky – 37-11
Indiana – 24-24
Kentucky: No. 7 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 7 (Baseball America), No. 9 (USA Today/ESPN Coaches), No. 9 (NCBA)
Indiana: not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) – Bloomington, Ind.
Wednesday, May 9 * at Indiana * 3 p.m.
Radio (UK IMG Radio Network with Neil Price)
Wednesday: WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington; WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville
Live audio and stats on UKathletics.com
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Wednesday at Indiana
Fr., RHP Chandler Shepherd (3-0, 4.17 ERA) vs. So., RHP Ryan Halstead (3-2, 5.61 ERA)