Kentucky opens home schedule against Eastern Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After two weeks of games in North Carolina and Virginia, Kentucky will kick off its 2017 home slate with a six-game homestand that welcomes nearby Eastern Kentucky in Tuesday afternoon’s opener. Western Kentucky will arrive in town on Wednesday before No. 23 UC Santa Barbara comes in for a three-game set at Cliff Hagan Stadium over the weekend.
First pitch for Tuesday’s opener against EKU is set for 4 p.m.
The Cats (2-5) went 2-2 last week on their swing through Virginia, sandwiching convincing victories over Saint Joseph’s and Old Dominion in between gut-wrenching one-run defeats to Liberty and Delaware. UK’s five losses have come by a total of six runs, with four of them being one-run affairs.
Senior outfielders Marcus Carson and Zach Reks have sparked an offense that has been missing preseason All-American first baseman Evan White for much of the season. Carson hit .625 last week and is up to .500 on the season, while Reks continues to jumpstart the offense out of the leadoff spot. White returned against Delaware and smoked the first pitch he saw for a double. He’s now 4-of-6 on the season.
The Cats’ pitching was much improved in week two, with Saturday and Sunday starters Zach Logue and Justin Lewis combining to go 13.0 innings while allowing just six hits, one run, two walks and striking out eight.
TAKING IT BACK TO THE COMMONWEALTH
Eastern Kentucky comes into Cliff Hagan Stadium riding a three-game winning streak after sweeping Oakland over the weekend, taking the first two games in one-run affairs before easily capturing the final game of a three-game set that was played at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, the local minor league stadium.
Much like Kentucky, the Colonels did not ease into their schedule this season. They trekked west to Tucson to play four games against No. 7 Arizona and acquitted themselves well despite going 0-4. EKU also traveled to No. 6 Louisville just two days after returning from the desert, making their first five games against Top 10 foes.
Sophomore infielder Ryland Kerr has paced the offense with a .400 average, four doubles, eight RBI and three steals, while senior first baseman Ben Fisher (.323, 5 2B, 6 RBI) and junior infielder Cornell Nixon (.313, 5 SB) also have hit well. The Colonels have yet to name their starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game.
Last season, EKU dealt a damaging late-season blow to UK’s postseason chances, defeating the Cats 5-4 at Cliff Hagan on May 3.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
UK – TBA
Eastern Kentucky – TBA
Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb. 28 (4 p.m.)
Location (Facility): Lexington, Ky. (Cliff Hagan Stadium)
Radio: UK Radio Network; 98.5 FM-Lexington (Neil Price); ukathletics.com
Broadcast: SECN+ (Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn)