Nick Mingione will go to his primary midweek starter today as the BatCats take the field in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. Freshman Daniel Harper was named the starter for today’s SEC Tournament opener against Auburn. The Kansas-native went 3-2 with a 5.14 ERA as Kentucky’s usual midweek starter.
Harper was one of the only pitchers on UK’s staff to get experience starting midweek games and coming out of the bullpen against SEC opponents. In midweeks, Harper showed exceptional development over the course of the season. After allowing 20 earned runs in his first nine appearances of his career, Haper settled down and allowed only seven runs in his final nine trips to the mound. Harper threw a combined ten shutout innings in starts against Miami and Morehead after struggling to open the season.
UK moved Harper to the bullpen for SEC games when more and more guys went down with injuries. Harper allowed five runs in less than an inning against Arkansas, but he was solid after that misstep. After the Arkansas loss, Harper came out of the bullpen in four games and allowed three runs in 6.2 innings.
Auburn will counter with their midweek starter Jack Owen. The freshman went 2-2 with a 6.19 ERA in 13 appearances this season. Owen did not show the gradual improvement against SEC opponents that Harper did this season. The top-rated prospect allowed four runs in three innings against SEC teams as a freshman.
Both teams are in desperate need of a win today. They will go to their freshmen arms to try and push them into the second round of the SEC Tournament. Kentucky and Auburn will be the second game of the first round of the SEC Tournament. All four games today will be single elimination before the tournament moves to double elimination tomorrow.