Rusin returns to UK baseball team

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky first-team All-Southeastern Conference pitcher Chris Rusin has decided to return to UK for his senior season, he announced on Friday.

“We are extremely excited to have Chris Rusin returning to Kentucky in 2009,” Kentucky head coach Gary Henderson said. “Chris is one of the premier pitchers in the nation and his leadership and experience will be counted on in 2009.”

Rusin, who had a career year as a junior in 2008, was drafted in the 23rd round by the Oakland Athletics. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound southpaw, was one of a league-high four UK players named to the All-SEC first-team in 2008 and one of only two starting pitchers in the league on the first-team, joining Patrick Keating (Florida) and the best closer the nation, reliever Joshua Field (Georgia).

During 2008, Rusin was dominant, posting a 3.33 ERA and a 6-3 record in 13 starts. A native of Canton, Mich., Rusin hurled quality starts in 9-of-13 assignments, going seven or more innings seven times in 2008. Rusin worked 83.2 innings, striking out 65 and throwing two complete games.

After helping UK clinch an SEC Tournament berth in his final regular season start vs. Ole Miss, Rusin experienced a minor injury that resulted in him not pitching in the SEC Tournament. After a week of rest, Rusin was asked to pitch in the opening game of the Ann Arbor NCAA Regional, but was not 100-percent and was pulled after 1.1 innings. Throw out the game vs. Michigan, which was the worst statistical outing of his career, and Rusin had a 2.84 ERA in 82.1 innings.

Two of Rusin’s three losses on the season came when the lefty hurled two complete-game performances on the road in the SEC (at Auburn, at Vanderbilt) - two eight-inning complete games that saw Rusin strike out 18 and allowing five runs.

On the road in 2008, Rusin totaled a 2.63 ERA in 37 innings, striking out 33 in five starts. In his three-year career, Rusin has earned a 16-7 record in 43 appearances and 32 starts, earning a 4.11 ERA in 208 innings, striking out 166.

Rusin became UK’s first, first-team All-SEC pitcher since Scott Downs in 1997. Downs is one of the premier left-handed setup specialists in MLB, pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.