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UK Opens SEC Slate at Alabama

UK baseballLEXINGTON, Ky. (3/13/14) — The 20th ranked Kentucky baseball team will open Southeastern Conference play at Alabama, starting Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The series will resume Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET and conclude Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.

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 Lexington can hear the games live on WWTF 1580-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online.

The Wildcats will send the weekend rotation of junior southpaw A.J. Reed (3-0, 1.38) on Friday to face off with Alabama junior right-hander Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 0.42 ERA). On Saturday, UK will turn to junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd (3-0, 2.42 ERA) to face off with junior southpaw Justin Kamplain (2-1, 2.45 ERA), On Sunday, UK has yet to announce a starting pitcher, with Alabama turning to junior lefty Jon Keller (4-0, 0.83 ERA).

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed has made four starts in 2014, owning a 3-0 record and a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings. A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, Reed has worked 26 innings, allowing 18 hits and nine walks, striking out 14 and holding opponents to a .196 average. Worked eight strong innings in a no decision on Friday vs. Ball State, giving UK a three-run lead entering the ninth inning. He allowed seven hits and five runs - two earned - walking two and striking out three. In his three-year career, Reed has a 10-11 record and a 3.11 ERA in 34 games and 23 starts, working 162 innings, allowing 172 hits, walking 33 and striking out 117. Turnbull is one of the top pitching prospects in college baseball and has made four starts in 2014. Turnbull has worked 21.2 innings, allowing just nine hits and 10 walks, striking out 23 and holding opponents to a .129 mark. On Friday vs. Mississippi Valley State (0-16), Turnbull worked seven shutout innings, allowing no runs and one walk, striking out seven on 83 pitches. In 2012 at Kentucky, Turnbull worked 2.2 innings in a series opening start, allowing three hits and four runs, walking four and striking out two on 77 pitches.

Shepherd, a native of Louisa, Ky., has made four Saturday starts in 2014, with a 3-0 mark and a 2.42 ERA. Currently riding a streak of 16.2 consecutive innings without an earned run, Shepherd has tossed 26 frames, allowing 19 hits and six walks, striking out 21. On Saturday vs. Ball State Shepherd worked seven innings, allowing just two singles and one unearned run, walking two and striking out a career high eight. In his three year career, Shepherd has a 11-1 record with a 3.14 ERA, working in 48 games and 14 starts, with one save. He has 137.2 career innings, allowing 129 hits, walking 39 and striking out 93. Kamplain has made four starts in 2014, working 22 innings and just allowing eight hits and eight walks, striking out 24. He has held opponents to a .116 on-base percentage but has hit a team-high four batters. Kamplain is coming off seven no hit innings in a win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, allowing two walks and striking out 12 in 98 pitches.

Keller has made four appearances , all wins, and one start to open 2014. He has worked 21.2 innings, allowing only 10 hits and two walks, striking out 15, with opponents hitting just .147. Keller started on Sunday vs. Mississippi Valley State, working six one-hit innings, striking out seven on 83 pitches. Keller started in 2012 against UK in Lexington, allowing eight hits and four runs – three earned – in six innings, walking two and striking out three. On Sunday vs. Ball State, UK turned to junior right hander Andrew Nelson (1-0, 1.93 ERA) for his second career start, with the Omaha, Neb., native working 6.2 innings and allowing one run. Nelson has appeared in five games with two starts, working 14 innings with two walks and nine strikeouts.

Kentucky (13-4, 0-0 SEC) is coming off a 7-2 midweek loss at No. 16 Indiana on Tuesday, allowing three two-run innings for the Hoosiers, powered by a pair of homers. UK posted a series win over Ball State last weekend, suffering a 10-8 10-inning loss on Friday after a pair of run-scoring errors in the ninth and 10th innings lifted the Cardinals to a win. UK responded with 50 runs over the next two games, pounding the Cardinals 24-1 in the second game and 26-3 in the finale. UK set the program record for runs scored in a three game series, topping the previous mark of 47 set in 2007 vs. UT Martin.

UK has hit an SEC leading .337 as a team in 2014, with 184 runs scored in 17 games, slugging 46 doubles, four triples and 15 homers, stealing 37 bases. On the mound, UK has a 2.74 ERA as a team, working 151.1 innings, allowing 124 hits and 50 walks, striking out 114 and holding opponents to a .219 average. Defensively, UK has fielded .965, turning 16 double plays, picking off one runner and allowing just nine steals.

Individually, the Wildcats have been led by junior centerfielder Austin Cousino, who has hit .432 with nine doubles, two triples, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing seven bases. A.J. Reed leads college baseball in homers (eight) and RBI (28), batting .414 with four doubles, a .897 slugging and a .563 on-base percentage. Catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .400 with five doubles, two homers and 20 RBI, with leftfielder Ka’ai Tom batting .362 with four doubles and 10 RBI, swiping six bags. Third baseman Max Kuhn has batted .361 with seven doubles, two homers and 18 RBI, with a .483 on-base percentage. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett owns a .324 average with four doubles, one homer, 14 RBI and nine steals. Thomas Bernal and Matt Reida have each hit .250, with Bernal driving in eight RBI and Reida nine RBI.

In the bullpen, UK has been paced by junior right hander Spencer Jack (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who has appeared in a team-high eight games, working 12 innings and striking out eight. Freshman Logan Salow (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has appeared in five games in relief, along with Zach Strecker (0-1, 4.91 ERA). Ryne Combs (1-1, 2.00 ERA), Zach Brown (0-0, 2.25 ERA), Sam Mahar (0-0, 7.36 ERA), Matt Snyder (0-0, 7.36 ERA), Taylor Martin (0-0, 9.64 ERA) and Robert Zeigler (0-1, 10.12 ERA) have each appeared in four games in relief.

Alabama (10-5, 0-0 SEC) – ranked No. 21 in the preseason by Baseball America, has won six consecutive games entering the conference opener, including a series sweep over Mississippi Valley State (0-16) last weekend and a midweek win over Samford. Alabama suffered a series loss at No. 10 UL-Lafayette, also falling to Saint Louis in the season opener and Stephen F. Austin in 13 innings in the second weekend opener.

The Tide have batted .267 as a team in 2014, with 22 doubles, one triple, six homers and 65 RBI, owning a .340 on-base percentage and stealing 15 bases in 15 games. Bama has a staggering 1.71 team ERA in 137 innings, allowing 51 walks and striking out 123, with opponents batting a measly .174. Defensively, UA has fielded .974 as a team, turning 16 double plays and allowing 12 steals.

Individually, Bama has been paced by first baseman Austen Smith, who has hit .362 in 14 games, with three doubles and 11 RBI. Centerfielder Georgie Salem has hit .318 with three doubles, three RBI and three steals. Standout outfielder Ben Moore has hit .300 with five doubles, one homer and 10 RBI, stealing five bases. Catcher Will Haynie has hit .297 with two doubles, one homer and six RBI, owning a 1-15 walk-strikeout ratio in 10 games. Second baseman Kyle Overstreet has doubled as the closer and hit .286 with a double, homer and four RBI in 15 games. Shortstop Mikey White has hit .263 with a double, triple and seven RBI. Chase Vincent has hit .222, with Wade Wass batting .214 with five doubles and Casey Hughston hitting .212 with two homers.

In relief for Alabama, Thomas Burrows (2-0, 0.00 ERA) has appeared in five games in relief, working eight one-hit innings, allowing three walks and a .040 average, striking out nine. Geoffrey Bramblett (0-0, 1.08 ERA), Taylor Guilbeau (0-1, 1.50 ERA), Jay Shaw (0-1, 1.80 ERA), Tucker Hawley (0-1, 3.18 ERA) and Ray Castillo (0-0, 5.11 ERA) have each appeared in four games, with Castillo, the 2013 dynamo closer for UA, making three starts.

Alabama leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 57-36, including a 28-14 mark in Tuscaloosa. UK has won three consecutive meetings, a series sweep in 2012, after Alabama had a four game winning streak from 2010-2011. In the last meeting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama swept UK with a 4-0 win in the opener, a 6-5 win in the middle game and a 8-3 win in the finale that saw UK standout righty Alex Meyer take a line drive off the shin that forced him to miss several weeks.

In the last meeting, UK swept the Tide in Lexington in 2012. UK got a 4-2 win in the series opener, with two runs in the second and third innings and a strong outing from Taylor Rogers and Alex Phillips for the win and save, respectively. Thomas McCarthy led UK at the plate with a two-RBI double in the second inning. The Wildcats then swept a doubleheader on Saturday vs. Alabama, with UK posting a 7-6 comeback win in the first game, rallying from down 5-1 with a five-run bottom of the seventh inning. After Bama got the run back in the eighth, UK answered the winning run, with Austin Cousino getting hit by a leadoff pitch and scoring on a bases-loaded walk from Michael Williams. Jerad Grundy worked five innings and allowed just one run, with Trevor Gott getting the fin in relief. In the series finale, UK posted an 8-1 win to sweep the Tide, getting homers from Cousino, Williams and Brian Adams. Corey Littrell worked 6.2 innings for the win in the finale, with Sam Mahar getting a save, his second of that week, with 2.1 innings, allowing just two singles.

SurfKY News
Information provided by UK Athletics

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