The Kentucky baseball team, a game out of first in the SEC, host Alabama in its final SEC home series of the season.
From UK Athletics
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off a 12-inning win at Indiana on Wednesday, No. 7 Kentucky wraps up its home regular-season schedule, hosting Alabama in a three-game set, starting on Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
The three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The Friday game will be televised live on CSS, with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor on the call. On Saturday, the UK IMG Network will televise the game live on Fox Sports South and C-WKYT locally, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond on the call.
Kentucky (38-11, 15-9 Southeastern Conference) sits one game out of the SEC Championship race, trailing South Carolina and LSU, who own 16-8 record, with UK boasting series wins over both. The Wildcats have two SEC weekends remaining, vs. Alabama before traveling to No. 25 Mississippi State for the final weekend of the regular-season. UK has already clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament, set for May 22-27 at Hoover, Ala.
Kentucky coming off a 6-5 12-inning win at Indiana on Wednesday night, as UK rallied with go-ahead runs in the 11th and 12th innings as nightfall descended on IU’s Sembower Field, which doesn’t have lights. UK got strong relief pitching from several Wildcats, with Trevor Gott picking up the win and Sam Mahar notching his first career save in the bottom of the 12th. The win improved UK to a staggering 14-4 record in one-run games and a 15-5 mark in one or two-run contests.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a historically unprecedented season, sitting with the fourth-most wins in the 107-year history of the program and the third-most SEC wins in school annals. The Wildcats opened the season on a school-record 22-game winning streak, posting series wins in conference play over No. 2 South Carolina, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 1 LSU and at Tennessee, No. 18 Georgia and No. 9 Arkansas. UK has suffered its first series defeats of the year the last two weekends, at two-time defending SEC Champion Vanderbilt and vs. No. 5 Florida, the preseason consensus top-ranked team in the nation.
UK will send its regular weekend rotation to the mound with junior lefty Taylor Rogers (5-3, 4.81 ERA) on Friday, junior left-hander Jerad Grundy (4-2, 4.08 ERA) and sophomore southpaw Corey Littrell (7-0, 2.30 ERA). Alabama will counter with standout freshman right-hander Spencer Turnbull (2-4, 4.56 ERA), freshman southpaw Jon Keller (1-5, 4.14 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-hander Charley Sullivan (2-2, 5.03 ERA) on Sunday.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has made 12 starts in 2012 in the series opener, tossing 67.1 innings, allowing 81 hits and 15 walks, striking out 67. Rogers was strong in his last start, tossing six innings and allowing seven hits and three earned runs vs. No. 5 Florida, walking two and striking out five. In his last start vs. Alabama, allowing nine hits and six runs, not walking anyone and striking out five in 4.1 innings. As a freshman, Rogers turned in a strong outing, tossing 7.2 innings with five hits and two runs, not walking any and striking out five for his first career SEC win.
Rogers will be opposed by Turnbull, who has emerged as one of the top freshmen pitchers in college baseball after tossing seven no-hit innings in a start at No. 4 South Carolina, before weather postponed the game. Turnbull has made 13 appearances with eight starts, tossing 47.1 innings, allowing 44 hits and 21 walks, striking out 41. While dueling with Mississippi State’s ace Chris Stratton, Turnbull worked 5.2 innings in his last start, allowing seven hits and three runs, walking one and striking out two.
Grundy, a transfer from Heartland CC and Miami (Fla.), has made 12 starts in the middle game of the weekends in 2012. Grundy has hurled 64 innings, allowing 58 hits and 25 walks, striking out 41. In his last start vs. Florida, Grundy worked 7.1 innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out two. Keller will be making his eighth start of the year in 18 appearances, tossing 54.1 innings, allowing 51 hits and 21 walks, striking out 34. In his last start vs. MSU, Keller worked seven innings, allowing three hits and three runs – two earned – walking three and striking out five.
A native of Louisville, Ky., and a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame NCAA Pitcher of the Year Watch List, Littrell has thrived in the series finale role for UK in 2012. Littrell has tossed 12 starts in 2012, with 74.1 innings, allowing 78 hits and 18 walks, striking out 61. In his last start, Littrell turned in a dominating outing, taking a shutout into the ninth inning vs. Florida, with UK holding a 2-1 win. Littrell worked eight innings, allowing nine hits and one run – a solo homer to leadoff the ninth – not allowing a walk and striking out five. Sullivan has appeared in 12 games with nine starts, tossing 53.2 innings, allowing 64 hits and 11 walks, striking out 32. In his last start, Sullivan worked seven strong innings vs. Mississippi State, allowing only five hits and two runs – one earned – not allowing and walk with five strikeouts.
The Wildcats have been led offensively in 2012 by freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino, who boasts a .345 average with 18 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 37 RBI, stealing 11-of-11 bases. Catcher Luke Maile owns a .320 average with 10 doubles, 11 homers and 45 RBI, stealing nine bags. Zac Zellers has hit .304 with nine doubles, one triple, five homers and 18 RBI, while third baseman Thomas McCarthy owns a .299 average with 15 doubles, five homers and 26 RBI. Reed has hit .296 with nine doubles, three homers and 39 RBI, while outfielder Cameron Flynn owns a .295 mark with eight doubles, nine homers and 32 RBI. Second baseman J.T. Riddle has hit .284 with 10 doubles, one triple, four homers and 31 RBI, while catcher Michael Williams has hit .277 with six doubles, two homers and 27 RBI. Shortstop Matt Reida has added a .259 average with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 18 RBI.
In the bullpen, UK has been led by Gott (2-0, 3.00 ERA) who has a UK single-season record 10 saves in 11 attempts in 2012. He has tossed 18 innings in 19 appearances, walking only five and striking out 26. Tim Peterson (3-0, 2.66 ERA) leads the club with 24 relief appearances, notching one save in 23.2 innings, striking out 27. Alex Phillips (5-2, 2.89 ERA) has appeared in 22 games with five saves in 43.2 innings, allowing 29 hits and 11 walks, striking out 33. Reed (4-1, 3.00 ERA) has appeared in 13 games with four stars, tossing 36 innings, walking six and striking out 38. Lefty Sam Mahar (3-3, 3.00 ERA) has appeared in 18 games with two starts and one save, tossing 33 innings with 30 hits and nine walks allowed, striking out 31. Walter Wijas (2-0, 5.57 ERA) has also helped UK anchor a dynamic bullpen, appearing in 18 games.
Alabama (18-30, 7-17 SEC) is coming off a series loss vs. No. 29 Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tide own series wins over Vanderbilt and No. 23 Auburn in 2012, suffering losses to MUS, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 3 LSU, Tennessee, No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 4 Arkansas.
As a team, Bama has hit .253 with 19 homers in 48 games, posting a 147-294 walk-strikeout ratio and stealing 32 bases. On the mound, Alabama has a 5.13 team ERA, saving five games and tossing 415.2 innings, walking 204 and striking out 300.
Offensively, Alabama has been led by freshman catcher Ben Moore, who has hit .352 with 10 doubles with two homers and 28 RBI. All-America centerfielder Taylor Dugas has hit .343 with 12 doubles, six triples, two homers and 25 RBI. Jared Reaves has hit .305 with seven doubles, four homers and 29 RBI. In the bullpen, Jake Hubbard (3-2, 3.37 ERA) has three saves in a team-high 26 relief outings.
UK trails the all-time series with Alabama 57-33, including a 23-15 mark in games played in Lexington. UK was swept by Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2011 with its last series win vs. the Tide coming in 2010 in Lexington, with UK winning the last two series played by Cliff Hagan Stadium.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Alabama swept UK at the Joe. In the opener, Nathan Kilcrease tossed a complete-game shutout for the win over UK, outdueling Alex Meyer, who worked 6.2 innings with eight strikeouts. UK was led offensively by a three-hit game from McCarthy, who doubled along with Maile. Alabama won the series on Saturday with a 6-5 walk-off win, plating the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, after UK had rallied with four runs in the seventh to tie the game. UK starter Jordan Cooper worked 2.2 innings with six hits and five runs allowed. Wijas worked 3.1 shutout innings of relief to keep UK in the game, along with 2.1 innings without allowing an earned run. The Bama run plated after an error in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the finale, Bama plated four runs in the first inning, holding on for an 8-3 win. Rogers worked 4.1 innings, allowing nine hits and six runs. Tucker Hawley started for Bama, working seven innings, allowing six hits and three runs.
UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, checking in third in average (.303), second in slugging (.457), second in on-base percentage (.392), second in runs (324), third in hits (504), second in RBI (298), first in doubles (99), first in total bases (761) and third in hit batters (72). Defensively UK ranks fourth in the league in double plays turned, allowing the fewest stolen bases of any team in the SEC. Individually, Cousino ranks 11th in average (.345), seventh in slugging (.562), second in runs (49), 10th in homers (eight), second in doubles (18), second in total bases (114) and seventh in steals (11). Maile ranks eighth in slugging (.558), seventh in runs (40), third in RBI (45), fourth in homers (11) and seventh in total bases (101). Flynn ranks 10th in slugging (.534) and sixth in homers (nine), while Zellers ranks sixth in on-base percentage (.455) and first in hit by pitch (18). Riddle ranks eighth in runs (39) and seventh in hit by pitch (11), while McCarthy checks in seventh in doubles (15).
Kentucky – 38-11, 15-9 SEC
Alabama – 18-30, 7-17 SEC
Kentucky: No. 7 (Collegiate Baseball/Baseball America), No. 9 (USA Today/ESPN coaches/NCBWA)
Alabama: not ranked
Schedule (times Eastern and subject to change) -- Lexington, Ky.
Friday, May 11 * vs. Alabama * 7 p.m. (CSS)
Saturday, May 12 * vs. Alabama * 2 p.m. (FSS)
Sunday, May 13 * vs. Alabama * 1 p.m.
Tentative Pitching Matchups
Friday vs. Alabama
Jr., LHP Taylor Rogers (5-3, 4.81 ERA) vs. Fr., RHP Spencer Turnbull (2-4, 4.56 ERA)
Saturday vs. Alabama
Jr., LHP Jerad Grundy (4-2, 408 ERA) vs. Fr., LHP Jon Keller (1-5, 4.14 ERA)
Sunday vs. Alabama
So., LHP Corey Littrell (7-4, 2.30 ERA) vs. Jr., RHP Charley Sullivan (2-2, 5.03 ERA)
Special Edition Baseball Trading Cards: Season ticket holders can begin picking up the final of three sets of the special edition UK baseball trading cards. To redeem, postcard holders should present their card to the promotions gazebo under the main grandstand. Each card will be stamped. Season ticket holders will receive one set for each season ticket in their account.
Cliff Dwellers: Be sure to register at the gazebo to earn your way towards an official Cliff Dweller T-Shirt. Attend any four SEC home games and get a white version, eight games for the blue version and 12 games for the black version.
Ice Cream Sundaes: Fans can enjoy Ice Cream Sundaes at the ballpark on Sunday.
Autograph Sunday: Fans can take part in SEC Autograph Sunday’s following the series finale on Sunday, the final chance to get autographs from the historic UK team.
Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,400)
Parking at Cliff Hagan Stadium is FREE.
UK will utilize three lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, the R lot on the first base side and brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. All three parking lots are only steps away from Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Fans who park in the PS7 lot will be given a parking value card to exit the structure free of charge. Value cards should be picked up at the baseball ticket booth prior to the fifth inning.
SINGLE GAME TICKET PRICES
$5 - General Admission Seating - Adults
$2 - General Admission Seating - Kids/Seniors