LEXINGTON, Ky. (4/24/14) — The Southeastern Conference’s top two offensive teams will collide at Cliff Hagan Stadium over the weekend in a crucial three-game series, with No. 17 Kentucky hosting No. 12 Ole Miss, with first pitch of the series opener slated for 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.
The series will resume 1 p.m. ET Saturday and conclude 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky and Ole Miss will meet in a pivotal three-game series with SEC standings implications. UK ranks as the SEC leader in nearly every offensive category, with Ole Miss right behind. The two teams are the only squads in the league with batting averages over .300, with UK sporting a .312 mark and the Rebels owning a .300 average.
The three games 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 games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The Saturday game will be televised on CSS and ESPN3.com.
The Wildcats will turn to the weekend rotation of junior lefty/first baseman A.J. Reed (7-1, 2.15 ERA) Friday, sophomore southpaw Dylan Dwyer (5-1, 3.40 ERA) Saturday and junior right-hander Andrew Nelson (1-4, 4.44 ERA) Sunday. Ole Miss will counter with junior righty Chris Ellis (5-0, 1.72 ERA) Friday, redshirt sophomore right-hander Christian Trent (5-0, 2.18 ERA) Saturday and junior right-hander Sam Smith (5-3, 2.32 ERA) Sunday.
Kentucky (27-14, 9-9 SEC) is coming off a slugfest midweek win over Tennessee Tech, with the game pitting the NCAA’s top run-scoring offense against the Wildcats, who rank fourth in the nation in runs. UK outlasted the Golden Eagles 15-13 in a game that saw 10 homers hit, with three TTU players each hitting two homers. UK got the go-ahead blast in the bottom of the eighth inning from Micheal Thomas, with UK getting a career day from senior shortstop Matt Reida, who was 4-for-4 with four runs, four RBI, two doubles and his first homer of the year, also stealing third base.
The Wildcats lead the SEC in average (.312), slugging (.459), on-base percentage (.412), runs (348) and homers (39), slugging 80 doubles and eight triples. UK has stolen 57 bases and owns a 178-277 walk-strikeout ratio. Defensively, UK has fielded .967 and turned 41 double plays, allowing just 21 steals. On the mound, UK has a 3.73 team ERA in 364 innings, walking 111 and striking out 254.
Kentucky ranks as the SEC leader in average (.312), slugging (.459), on-base percentage (.412), runs (348), hits (453), RBI (308), homers (39), hit batters (76), double plays turned (41) and total bases (666). UK also ranks second in doubles (80), third in walks (178) and sixth in steals (57). Individually, A.J. Reed leads the SEC in average (.375), slugging (.783), on-base percentage (.495), RBI (55), homers (16) and total bases (119), ranking second in runs (46), fourth in hits (57), 10th in doubles (12), third in walks (27) and second in wins (seven). Thomas Bernal ranks fifth in average (.354) and sixth in on-base percentage (.432). Max Kuhn ranks as the SEC leader in runs (50) and walks (31), ranking eighth in average (.347), eighth in slugging (.512), third in on-base percentage (.459), sixth in doubles (13), sixth in homers (five) and third in total bases (87). Austin Cousino ranks third in runs (41), fourth in hits (57) and fourth in steals (14). Micheal Thomas ranks fifth in slugging (.538), sixth in runs (36), third in RBI (39) and third in homers (seven). Ka’ai Tom ranks 13th in on-base percentage (.417) and eighth in steals (12).
Ole Miss (30-12, 10-8 SEC) is coming off a midweek rivalry loss vs. No. 20 Mississippi State in Pearl, Miss., a neutral-site game played in front of 8,496 fans at Trustman Park. The Rebels have hit .300 as a team in 2014 – ranking second in the league – with a .408 slugging and a .365 on-base percentage. Ole Miss has slugged 68 doubles, seven triples, 27 homers and scored 240 runs, stealing 70 bases. Defensively, The Rebels have fielded .974 with 36 double plays turned, allowing just 28 steals. On the mound, Ole Miss has a sparkling 2.25 ERA in 388.2 innings, with nine saves and 110 walks, with 320 strikeouts.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series between the two schools, 44-31, with UK holding an 18-15 all-time lead in games played in Lexington. UK won the last two series meetings, in 2013 in Oxford and in 2012 in Lexington. The Wildcats have also faced the Rebels in the SEC Tournament opener in 2012 and 2013, with the Rebels eliminating UK in 2013 in the tourney opener.
In the last series meeting, UK traveled to Oxford with its back against the wall, having lost seven consecutive games to fall to No. 24 in the rankings. UK also had just played the longest game in college baseball in 2013, an 18-inning loss at Western Kentucky on a Tuesday, with UK then hitting the road on Wednesday morning to travel to Oxford, despite returning to Lexington around 3 a.m. ET Tuesday night. UK responded in the opener, the Thursday Night SEC ESPNU Game of the Week, posting a 3-2 win behind a strong pitching performance from A.J. Reed and Chandler Shepherd. Reed worked 6.2 innings, allowing just two unearned runs in the seventh inning on a pair of Max Kuhn errors. Shepherd picked up the win with 2.1 shutout, three-hit innings in relief as UK’s bullpen was taxed to its limit by the 18-inning game on Tuesday. Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl worked seven one-run innings in a no-decision, just allowing a solo homer from Austin Cousino in the first inning, part of a two-RBI game from Cousino. Aaron Greenwood suffered the loss, allowing two runs without getting an out to start the eighth inning as UK rallied from down 2-1 for the 3-2 win. Ole Miss then evened up the series with a pounding of UK Friday, posting an 11-5 win with four runs in the first, two in the third and fifth innings and three in the sixth. UK starter Jerad Grundy allowed 12 hits and nine runs in 5.2 innings, as he took the bullet for the UK bullpen by eating up innings despite a big hole. UK got three runs in the second and two in the eighth. Ole Miss starter Mike Mayers allowed just one UK hit in six innings, allowing three runs, one earned, walking three and striking out eight. Chris Ellis worked 1.1 innings, allowing two runs, walking one and striking out two on 35 pitches. Andrew Mistone was 3-for-4 with five RBI, with Lance Wilson going 3-for-4 in the nine hole. In the series rubber match, UK got a strong start from Corey Littrell, who worked eight innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, walking one and striking out six in a 5-4 UK win. UK plated the go-ahead runs with one in the seventh and two in the eighth for a 5-3 lead, getting a big day from Greg Fettes, who homered and two-hit games from Reed, Max Kuhn and Kyle Barrett. Trevor Gott got the nail-biting save, with Cousino tracking down a ninth-inning drive from Sikes Orvis into the gap for a sacrifice fly, just missing a walk-off homer. Sam Smith worked 4.2 innings in the start, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, striking out two. Ole Miss ended UK’s season May 21 in the opener of the SEC Tournament, as the Rebels got single runs in the first and third innings, getting two in the sixth in a 4-1 win. Grundy worked 5.2 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs. Shepherd worked 2.1 shutout, two-hit innings in relief. UK got two hits from Matt Reida and Zack Storm, with Barrett, Reed, Zac Zellers and J.T. Riddle each collecting hits.
UK also won the series meeting in 2012 in Lexington, as the Wildcats posted a 3-2 win in the opener, fell 9-3 Saturday, before claiming the rubber match, 8-3. UK got two hits from Luke Maile and Cameron Flynn in the opener, as Taylor Rogers allowed two runs on 10 hits in five innings. Alex Phillips picked up the win, working 3.1 shutout innings, with Trevor Gott saving the game with the final two outs. Bobby Wahl worked four innings, walking four and allowing one run. In the second game, Jerad Grundy suffered the loss, allowing six runs in 4.2 innings, with A.J. Reed working 2.1 innings in relief, allowing one run. UK got three hits from Reed, including his third homer of the year. UK rode Corey Littrell in the rubber match, as he worked six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs. UK got homers from Maile and Flynn, with Flynn belting a grand slam.
- Kentucky – 24-14, 9-9 SEC
- Ole Miss – 30-12, 10-8 SEC
- Kentucky – No. 17 (Baseball America), No. 19 (Perfect Game), No. 21 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 22 (NCBWA), No. 23 (ESPN/USA Today)
- Ole Miss – No. 12 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 13 (USA Today/ESPN), No. 16 (Baseball America), No. 18 (NCBWA)
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change)
- vs. No. 12 Ole Miss Friday, April 25 6:30 p.m.
- vs. No. 12 Ole Miss Saturday, April 26 1 p.m.
- vs. No. 12 Ole Miss Sunday, April 27 1 p.m.
Information provided by UK Athletics
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