UK Baseball 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (3/25/14) — The No. 17 Kentucky baseball team will wrap up its five-game homestand with a Wednesday matchup vs. Xavier, with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The game 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 game live on WWTF 1580-AM.

Kentucky (17-7) has moved back to a consensus top-25 team after claiming three wins last week, including a series win over No. 1 South Carolina. UK is ranked No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game, and No. 19 by Baseball America and in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll, also checking in No. 21 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top 30.

Xavier will start freshman left-hander Trent Astle (1-1, 3.38 ERA), who has worked in six games and in three starts, working 21.1 innings, allowing 15 hits and seven walks, striking out nine. Kentucky has not yet announced a starting pitcher.

Last week, the Wildcats faced off with the high-octane Gamecocks in a three-game series that matched up UK, the NCAA leader in runs scored, and South Carolina, the nation’s leader with a 1.36 team ERA. UK exploded for 13 runs in the series opener, before getting a tight 2-1 win over the Gamecocks in the series decidern Saturday. Sunday, Kentucky got down in a 2-0 hole after five innings, with USC getting three-run frames in the sixth and ninth innings to secure the win. In midweek action, UK posted a 10-3 win over Western Kentucky on Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky, which leads the NCAA in runs scored (222) for the third straight week, has hit an SEC-leading .315 to open 2014, slugging 53 doubles, five triples and 21 homers, adding 46 steals and a .422 on-base percentage. Defensively, UK has fielded .963 with 22 double plays turned and just 10 steals allowed. On the mound, UK has a 2.82 team ERA, in 214 innings, walking 65 and striking out 156.

Xavier (12-10) is coming off a four-game series at Illinois, claiming the opening game of the series, before suffering three consecutive setbacks. The Musketeers have hit .274 as a team in 2014, with 125 runs scored in 22 games. XU has 31 doubles, two triples, 14 homers and a .359 on-base percentage, stealing 34-of-37 bases. Defensively, XU has fielded .967, turning 19 double plays and allowing 29-of-39 steal attempts. On the mound, XU has a 3.40 ERA, with six saves in 203.2 innings, walking 81 and striking out 104.

Individually, Xavier has been led at the plate by Derek Hansenbeck, who has hit .340 with two doubles, three homers and 14 RBI. Tres Eberhard has hit .304 with five doubles and one triple, stealing a team-high nine bags. Patrick Jones has hit .298 with six RBI, with Joe Forney driving in 13 RBI and owning a .293 average. Vinney Nittoli has two doubles, two homers and eight RBI, with Andre Jernigan owning a team-high 15 RBI and a .247 average.

The Wildcats lead the overall series with Xavier, 29-8 and have won 11 consecutive meetings in the series. UK has a 21-6 lead in games played in Lexington, with UK’s last meeting in the series coming in Lexington in 1998.

In the last meeting in Lexington in 2013, UK posted a 6-3 win March 6, getting the first career win from Cody, who worked five innings, allowing four hits and two runs, striking out three. Trevor Gott picked up his second save of the year with a shutout ninth inning. UK got a run in the first inning, before XU took a lead with two in the fourth. UK then scored two in the fifth and single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth for the 6-3 win. UK got two hits from A.J. Reed, Max Kuhn and Micheal Thomas, with Reed belting his fifth homer of the year and Kuhn’s two knocks going as doubles. XU started Scott Klever, who worked five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking four and striking out two.

UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, checking in as the league leader in average (.315), slugging (.464), on-base percentage (.422), runs (222), RBI (192), homers (21), total bases (392) and hit batters (45). UK also ranks second in steals (46), hits (266) and doubles (53), ranking third in walks (97).

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Posted on 2/2/14
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