By Brent Ingram
UK Overall Record: 19-15, 5-9 SEC
Record Last Week: 1-2, 1-2 SEC
Wednesday, April 8 * at No. 5 Louisville * Postponed
Friday, April 10 * lost at Arkansas, 3-5
Saturday, April 11 * won at Arkansas, 16-4
Sunday, April 12 * lost at Arkansas, 3-7
Upcoming Schedule (times Eastern)
Tuesday, April 14 * vs. Western Kentucky * 6:30 p.m. [SEC Network+]
Thursday, April 16 * vs. Tennessee * 7 p.m. [SEC Network]
Friday, April 17 * vs. Tennessee * 6:30 p.m. [SEC Network+]
Saturday, April 18 * vs. Tennessee * 12 p.m. [SEC Network]
The Kentucky baseball team embarked on a four-game road swing last week that included a three-game series loss at Arkansas and a matchup with No. 5 Louisville that was postponed. The Wildcats will return to action with a five-game homestand at Cliff Hagan Stadium, hosting Western Kentucky on Tuesday and Tennessee in a three-game series, starting on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Kentucky (19-15, 5-9 Southeastern Conference) suffered a 5-3 loss in the series opener at Arkansas on Friday, with the Razorbacks. Arkansas built a 4-1 lead, before UK rallied in the seventh inning to cut the lead to 4-3, with Zach Jackson pitching the Razorbacks to his fourth save of the year in the opener. UK then mounted a furious offensive rally to even the series on Saturday, beating Arkansas 16-4, the largest UK win in the series. UK got eight strong innings from Dustin Beggs, who allowed just one earned run, with Ka’ai Tom charting five RBI and Dorian Hairston and JaVon Shelby each launching homers. In the finale, UK trailed 7-0, after the Razorbacks scored four runs in the first three innings. Shelby belted his second homer in as many days to spoil freshman Keaton McKinney’s complete-game shutout, with the righty getting the final out in the 7-3 win.
UK’s nine-game road swing to open SEC play has been played in front of a total of 81,163, an average of 9.018 per night. UK has opened conference play on the road at No. 7 South Carolina, No. 1 LSU and Arkansas.
The Wildcats have been paced in 2015 by a potent offensive attack that ranks fourth in the SEC with a .302 average. UK has a .405 slugging percentage and a .390 on-base percentage, belting 57 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers and scoring 206 runs in 34 games, swiping 40 bases. On the mound, UK has a 4.62 team ERA with six saves in 303.2 innings, walking 106 and striking out 239.
At the plate, junior outfielder Ka’ai Tom has a .374 average, with 10 doubles, one triple and two homers, totaling 37 RBI and 11 steals. Junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .364 with seven doubles, two triples and one homer, with 18 RBI and seven steals. Second baseman JaVon Shelby has a .347 average with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 28 RBI, with Dorian Hairston totaling a .321 mark with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBI. First baseman Evan White has hit. 308 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 16 RBI. Third baseman Thomas Bernal has hit .305 with six doubles, one homer and 22 RBI. Shortstop Riley Mahan has hit .280 with a homer and eight RBI, catcher Zach Arnold has a .267 mark with five doubles and nine RBI, with Storm Wilson charting a .253 mark with a homer, 12 RBI and six steals. Shortstop Connor Heady has hit .250 with a homer and nine RBI, outfielder Marcus Carson has five steals and catcher Greg Fettes has belted three homers with 13 RBI.
UK’s weekend rotation has involved sophomore right-hander Zack Brown (2-4, 3.57 ERA), junior righty Dustin Beggs (4-2, 3.02 ERA) and junior right-hander Kyle Cody (2-4, 6.37 ERA). In relief, senior Spencer Jack (1-0, 3.09 ERA) has four saves, with Zack Strecker (2-0, 3.71 ERA) leading the team with 14 relief outings. Andrew Nelson (2-2, 4.40 ERA), Zach Logue (1-1, 5.18 ERA), Logan Salow (1-1, 9.26 ERA) and Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 2.65 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games.
Photo by Rhett Hutchins