LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Off to a quick start to 2013, No. 8 Kentucky will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Caravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. UK will face Kansas State on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, Elon on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET and the Chanticleers on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (3-0) opened up the year with three wins in Spartanburg last weekend, beating UNC Asheville (9-2), Niagara (20-3) and USC Upstate (11-10). The Wildcats returned home from Spartanburg on Monday night after staying over an extra day due to snow. With weather forecast in Myrtle Beach for the weekend, UK moved up its game with Kansas State – originally slated for Sunday – to Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
Kentucky is projected to utilize the weekend rotation of sophomore southpaw A.J. Reed (1-0, 3.60 ERA) on Thursday vs. K-State senior lefty Joe Flattery (0-1, 22.50 ERA). Senior lefty Jerad Grundy (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start on Friday vs. Elon ace senior southpaw Dylan Clark (1-0, 1.50 ERA), a 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star. On Saturday, junior left-hander Corey Littrell (0-0, 13.50 ERA) will face Chanticleers redshirt freshman righty Tyler Poole (0-1, 18.00 ERA) – a former basketball recruit for CCU.
A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed is a preseason All-America two-way standout who made the opening-day start against UNC Asheville on Friday. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder worked five innings, allowing six hits and two runs, not issuing a walk and striking out four. During the game, Reed also went 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and a triple. In his two-way career, Reed has appeared in 17 games with six starts, owning a 6-3 record and a 2.61 ERA, tossing 58.2 innings, walking nine and striking out 55. Kansas State will counter with Flattery, who is coming off his season debut in a start on Saturday vs. The Citadel. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound southpaw worked two innings, allowing six hits and seven runs – five earned – walking one. As a junior, Flattery earned a 6-4 record and a 4.37 ERA in 16 games and 15 starts, tossing 80.1 innings, allowing 83 hits and 23 walks, striking out 59.
Grundy, a native of Johnsburg, Ill., will be making his 18th career start for the Wildcats and is coming off a strong season debut in a win over Niagara on Sunday. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder worked six innings, allowing four hits and two unearned runs, walking one and tying his career high with nine strikeouts. In his career, Grundy has a 7-3 record and a 3.53 ERA in 91.2 innings, allowing only 83 hits and striking out 72. Elon will counter with its ace 6-foot-5 southpaw Clark, who had a strong season debut in a win over Marist on Friday. Clark, worked six strong innings, allowing four hits and two runs – one earned – not issuing a walk and striking out three. The 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star starred for Elon in 2012, posting a 9-4 record and a 3.76 ERA in 15 games and 14 starts. Clark has worked 88.2 innings, walking 18 and striking out 64. He has worked 46 games with 24 starts in his three-year career, posting a 12-9 record and a 3.89 ERA in 173.2 innings, allowing 172 hits, walking 59 and striking out 118.
A preseason All-America southpaw, Littrell will be making his 31st career start and is coming off a no-decision at USC Upstate. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound native of Louisville, Ky., worked 3.1 innings vs. the Spartans, allowing nine hits and seven runs – five earned – walking two and striking out three. In his career, Littrell has a 15-8 record and a 4.64 ERA in 170.2 innings, walking 56 and striking out 141. The 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year, is coming off a dominating season in 2012, posting a 9-2 record and a 2.74 ERA. The ace right-hander Poole will get the call for Coastal Carolina and is coming off a start vs. No. 1 North Carolina. He worked two innings, allowing five hits and five runs – four earned – walking two. A 6-foot-6, 210-pounder, Poole, who was picked in the 38th round of high school in 2011 – came to Coastal on a basketball scholarship and sat out the 2012 season due to injury.
UK has hit .366 as a club with 40 runs in three games, totaling eight doubles, three triples, two homers and seven steals. On the mound, the Wildcats have a 3.67 ERA in 27 innings, walking only six and striking out 26. Defensively, UK is fielding .956 with a double play turned.
The Wildcats have been led offensively through three games by junior second baseman J.T. Riddle, who was named Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week on Tuesday. Riddle is hitting .786 (11-for-14), with seven runs, three doubles, one triple, one homer, six RBI, a walk and a hit by pitch. Sophomore Thomas Bernal has hit .500 (3-for-6) with two doubles and two RBI, while All-America centerfielder Austin Cousino batted .385 (5-for-13) with five runs, one homer, four RBI and four steals. Catcher Micheal Thomas is hitting .375 (3-for-8), with Reed hitting .333 (4-for-12) with a triple and three RBI. Shortstop Matt Reida has hit .308 (4-for-13) with four RBI and a steal, while leftfielder Lucas Witt owns a .286 (4-for-14) average with three RBI. Infielder Max Kuhn has a .250 average (3-for-12) with a double and a triple, owning five RBI and five walks.
UK has used nine relievers in 2013, including six right-handers and three southpaws. Junior righty Trevor Gott picked up a win over the weekend with two shutout innings, with UK also using Walter Wijas, Dylan Dwyer, Zach Strecker, Tyler Cox and Kyle Cody in scoreless season debuts. Chandler Shepherd worked 2.2 key innings in a key, allowing two runs, with lefties Ryne Combs and Jeff Boehm each working a frame with a run surrendered.
Over opening weekend, UK posted a 9-2 win over UNC Asheville as Reed turned in five strong innings on the mound in the start and went a career-best 4-for-5 with three RBI at the plate. Riddle also added three hits, including doubles pounded off each the left and rightfield walls. After a snow delay, the Wildcats routed Niagara, 20-3 at Wofford, getting a school-record 6-for-6 game from Riddle, who finished just a homer shy of hitting for the cycle. Monday, UK opened up to a 6-2 lead at USC Upstate, before the Spartans – who won a school-record 33 games in 2012 – rallied with eight unanswered runs to take a 10-6 lead into the eighth inning. UK rallied with a homer from Riddle and a four-run frame in the eighth, before Bernal smacked a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning and Gott closed the door for the 11-10 win.
UK trails the all-time series with Coastal Carolina, 2-4, owning a 1-4 record vs. the Chanticleers in Conway. The Wildcats have played in the Caravelle Resort Invite three times in the Gary Henderson era, including two games vs. CCU in 2009 and one contest in 2010. UK won the last meeting in 2010, 3-2, riding a quality start from Logan Darnell and a three-inning relief win from Braden Kapteyn. UK got hits from Chris Bisson, Chad Wright, Gunner Glad and Taylor Black in the win, with Darnell working six innings with two runs surrendered. Kapteyn tossed three shutout innings, highlighted by two pickoffs of runners at first base in the same inning. In the first of the two meetings in 2009, UK suffered a 4-1 loss to CCU, as Clint Tilford suffered the loss in 3.1 innings of work on the mound. UK has held to three hits by CCU star Austin Fleet. UK got hits from Marcus Nidiffer, Spencer Korus and Bisson, with Tilford allowing four hits and three runs – one earned, walking two and striking out two. In the finale of the two-game set in 2009, CCU won 14-5, as Cody Wheeler working six innings in the win and Chris Rusin suffered the loss in 4.1 innings. Rusin allowed seven runs – five earned – striking out eight in the start, with Mike Kaczmarek allowing five runs in 0.2 innings in relief. UK got homers from Glad and Kapteyn in the game at Vrooman Field. UK will be meeting K-State and Elon for the first times in program history.
Kansas State (2-1) is hitting .345 as a team with five doubles, two triples, two homers and 17 RBI, owning a .474 slugging and a .394 on-base percentage, stealing 4-of-7 bases and sporting a .949 fielding mark. On the mound the Cats have a 4.85 ERA with a save in 26 innings, allowing 36 hits and seven walks, striking out 26. R.J. Santigate leads the team with a .585 average (7-for-12) with a double and two RBI. Shane Conlon has hit .462 (6-for-13) with a double and a triple, Ross Kivett has batted .417 (5-for-12) with a double and Mitch Meyer has a .333 average (3-for-9) with a double. Jared King has batted .286 with a triple and four RBI, while Jon Davis has a .267 average (4-for-15) with a homer and four RBI. In the bullpen Tanner Witt made two appearances with a save in two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out four. Jake Matthys, Hayden Nixon, Landon Busch, Gerardo Esquivell, Blake McFadden and Jared Moore each tossed at least a scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Cats.
Elon (1-3) is coming off a 33-win season in 2012, including a 20-10 record in the Southern Conference. The Phoenix has hit .307 as a team with nine doubles and a triple, scoring 19 runs, with a .416 slugging and a .379 on-base percentage, stealing 2-of-5 bases and fielding .984. On the mound, Elon has a 4.00 team ERA in 27 innings, allowing 25 hits and seven walks, striking out 22. Sebastian Gomez leads the team with a .545 average (6-for-11) with three RBI. Antonio Alvarez has hit .34 (4-for-11) with two doubles and two RBI, while Alex Swim has a .333 (4-for-12) average with a team-high five RBI. Will Leathers has hit .308 (4-for-13) with a double. Ryan Kinsella has hit .273 (3-for-11) with two doubles and two RBI. In relief, Ryan Pennel has appeared in two games with two shutout innings. Andrew MacDonald has a 1.93 ERA in 3.2 innings out of the pen, with John Antonelli and Jacob Baker each tossing a shutout frame.
Coastal Carolina (2-1) is coming off its 12th NCAA Tournament appearances and its 15th Big South title, posting a 42-15 record in 2012. In 2012, CCU is batting .187 as a team with two doubles and 13 runs scored, totaling a .209 slugging and a .308 on-base percentage, stealing 5-of-6 bases and fielding .937. On the mound the Chants has a 3.46 ERA with a save in 26 innings, allowing 28 hits and 17 walks, striking out 13. Collin Hering (4-for-10) and Chris Suseck (2-for-5) are hitting .400 with Will Remillard leading the team with five RBI, batting .273 (3-for-11) with a double. Brian Pruett has hit .250 (2-for-8) with a double and three RBI, while Jacob May has batted .231 (3-for-13) with a RBI. In relief, Austin Kerr and Seth Lamando made two relief outings, with Lamando getting a win and a save in 1.2 shutout frames.