Kentucky baseball has not quite had the season many were hoping for — a dominating run through Southeastern Conference play becoming a clear-cut favorite for the College World Series — but to be fair, baseball is a funny sport and can often be a cruel mistress. UK is sitting at 27-11 on the season but has fallen below .500 in conference play with a 7-8 record. All things considered, it is not a disappointment by any means just yet, but there is cause for concern. Kentucky has a brutal schedule on the horizon; traveling to play No. 14 South Carolina and No. 17 Ole Miss over the next two weekends.
It is mid-April and Kentucky has lost both SEC series this month. Understandably, UK was swept on the road at No. 2 LSU. The Tigers are playing on another level right now and it is tough for anybody to compete. A tougher pill to swallow, however, was the home series loss to Tennessee just last weekend. The Volunteers were struggling mightily in conference play before taking down the highly-ranked Wildcats winning the better of three games. Needless to say, things must pick up in a hurry for Kentucky, before too much ground is lost in conference play.
So Kentucky will play host to rival Louisville this evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Despite it being an out-of-conference tilt, the stakes are high for the Cats. Searching for a big victory to boost morale and get back on track before hitting the road to Columbia, UK will go for the two-game series sweep over the Cardinals. Kentucky won in Louisville earlier this season in front of a record crowd, with the winning run crossing the plate in the 10th inning.
The Cats will send freshman Kyle Cody to the mound. He pitched against the Cards in Louisville with great success, going 6.1 innings, surrendering just 4 hits and 2 earned runs in one of the best outings of his young career.
Backing him up will be the Cats stellar defense with a .970 fielding percentage. And providing run support will be a .274 team batting average, with a .384 slugging and .382 on-base percentage.
Helping the cause individually are freshman Kyle Barrett, who is hitting .316 with four doubles and 10 RBI; junior second baseman J.T. Riddle, hitting .313 with seven doubles and 18 RBI; sophomore A.J. Reed, hitting .311 with four doubles, nine homers, and 37 RBI; and Austin Cousino, hitting .281 with four doubles, four homers, 22 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.
The weather is going to be fantastic this evening, so get out to Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. with football coach Mark Stoops throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. UK students with a student ID can purchase $1 hot dogs and drinks throughout the game.
If you can’t make it, the game will be televised live on UK IMG Network, Fox Sports South, and regionally on CWKYT. As always, you can also hear the voice of UK Baseball in action on 630-AM WLAP in Lexington, 1080-AM WKJK in Louisville, or online on UKathletics.com.