Kentucky Travels South to Play Tennessee in SEC Conference Play

Kentucky_Baseball.jpgThe Kentucky Wildcats will return to the grind of Southeastern Conference play on Thursday, traveling to face off with Tennessee, with first pitch of the series opener slated for 7:30 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The series will resume at 6 p.m. ET on Friday and conclude at 12 p.m. ET at Sunday.

The Thursday game will be televised as the ESPNU Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week, with a pregame show starting at 7 p.m. ET, before first pitch at 7:30 p.m. The game will be called by Dave Neal, Kyle Peterson and Chris Burke. The series finale on Saturday will also be televised live on FSN, with Dave Baker and Larry Conley voicing the action.

All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at

Kentucky will turn to the weekend rotation of junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed (7-2, 2.31 ERA) on Thursday, sophomore southpaw Dylan Dwyer (5-2, 3.96 ERA) on Friday and junior righty Andrew Nelson (1-4, 4.61 ERA) on Saturday. Tennessee will counter on Thursday with freshman righty Hunter Martin (3-2, 3.05 ERA), senior righty Nick Williams (4-4, 3.80 ERA) – the brother of former UK standout catcher Michael Williams – on Friday, and sophomore southpaw Andy Cox (3-1, 1.96 ERA) on Saturday.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed has made 25 consecutive weekend opening starts for the Wildcats, including 11 in 2014. A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, Reed has worked 74 innings, allowing 70 hits and 19 walks, striking out 49. In his three-year career, Reed has worked in 41 games with 30 starts, owning a 14-13 record and a 3.04 ERA, the fourth-best total in UK history. Reed has worked 210 innings in his career, allowing 43 walks and striking out 152. Reed is coming off his second loss of the year on Friday vs. No. 12 Ole Miss. Reed worked his shortest outing since 2012, lasting three innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs – two earned – walking one and striking out three. Reed allowed a single Ole Miss run in the second inning, before a leadoff error derailed the third frame, allowing the Rebels to score six runs, with UK pulling Reed with the idea that he would have to work on shorter rest Thursday at Tennessee. In a 2013 start vs. Tennessee, Reed suffered a no-decision in an eventual 5-4 UK win. Reed worked 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs, walking two and striking out six on 104 pitches, with UT getting two runs in the fourth inning, before UK plated four in the eighth for a comeback win. In two outings vs. UT in his career, Reed has worked 8.1 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs – three earned – walking three and striking out eight. Martin has appeared in 10 games with eight starts, working 41.1 innings, allowing 44 hits and 13 walks, striking out 23. On Saturday at No. 6 LSU, Martin came on in relief of Cox, working 2.1 shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out one.

Dwyer, a native of Murray, Ky., will be making his fourth career SEC start on Saturday. Dwyer has appeared in 11 games with eight starts, working 50 innings, allowing 44 hits and 15 walks, striking out 44. In his two-year career, Dwyer has appeared in 25 games with eight starts, owning a 6-2 record and a 3.93 ERA in 66.1 innings, allowing 64 hits and 22 walks, striking out 51. Dwyer was piecing together a career outing on Saturday vs. No. 12 Ole Miss, carrying a shutout and a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning. The Rebels then plated four in the fifth and six in the sixth to chase Dwyer and dent his outing. Dwyer went five innings, allowing six hits and six runs – five earned – walking two and striking out four. Nick Williams, the younger brother of former UK star catcher Michael Williams, has appeared in 12 games with 10 starts, working 66.1 innings, allowing 58 hits and 13 walks, striking out 47. On Sunday at No. 6 LSU, Williams worked 5.1 innings in a no decision, allowing six hits and four runs, walking one and striking out one. In 2013, Williams picked up the win with seven innings vs. UK, allowing four hits and five runs – three earned – walking two and striking out six on 112 pitches.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Nelson has made nine starts and appeared in 12 games in 2014, working 52.2 innings, allowing 61 hits and 13 walks, striking out 25. On Sunday vs. No. 12 Ole Miss, Nelson took a no-decision in four innings. Nelson allowed six hits and four runs – three earned – in four frames, walking one and striking out one, surrendering a pair of doubles and a homer in 64 pitches. Cox has been UT's relief ace for the majority of the year, appearing in a team-high 22 games with three starts. Cox has worked 55 innings, allowing 33 hits – 28 singles – walking 18 and striking out 46, with opponents hitting .178. On Saturday at No. 6 LSU, Cox worked five innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking three and striking out one, throwing 71 pitches.

Kentucky (27-17, 9-12 SEC) is coming off a four-game homestand that saw the Wildcats suffer a series sweep at the hands of No. 12 Ole Miss, with UK picking up a midweek slugfest win over Tennessee Tech, the NCAA leader in runs scored, last Tuesday. UK opened last week with a 15-13 win over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, in a matchup of two of the top-four scoring teams in the nation. UK got the go-ahead homer from senior Micheal Thomas in the eighth inning and held on for a win in a game that saw a total of 10 homers hit, including seven by TTU and shots from UK's JaVon Shelby and Matt Reida. Reida went 4-for-4 in the game, adding a pair of doubles.

The Wildcats then suffered a 12-4 loss in the series opener to the Rebels, with Ole Miss clinching the series with an 18-5 win on Saturday and a sweep with a 9-6 result. UK got homers in the Friday and Saturday games from A.J. Reed, with Reed hitting two homers on Saturday to up his NCAA-leading total to 19. UK also got a pair of homers in the series from freshman outfielder Storm Wilson.

Kentucky has been paced in 2014 by its explosive offensive attack, leading the circuit in XXXX

In 2014, Kentucky has been led at the plate by A.J. Reed, who has hit .374 with 12 doubles, one triple, 19 homers and 59 RBI, owning a .810 slugging and a .495 on-base percentage. First baseman Thomas Bernal has hit .348 with seven doubles, one homer and 24 RBI, with third baseman Max Kuhn hitting .331 with 13 doubles, five homers and 39 RBI. Centerfielder Austin Cousino has hit .328 with 11 doubles, two triples, three homers and 27 RBI, stealing 14 bases. Leftfielder Ka'ai Tom has hit .326 with eight doubles, 22 RBI and 12 steals. Catcher Micheal Thomas owns a .314 average with seven doubles, one triple, seven homers and 40 RBI, with second baseman JaVon Shelby hitting .279 with six doubles, two triples, four homers and 19 RBI. Outfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .262 with five doubles, one homer and 18 RBI, stealing 10 bases, with shortstop Matt Reida adding a .236 average with a homer and 22 RBI.

On the mound, A.J. Reed (7-2, 2.31 ERA) has made 11 Friday night starts, working 74 innings. Chandler Shepherd (5-2, 3.54 ERA) has worked 53.1 innings, allowing 58 hits and 15 walks, striking out 37. Sophomore Dylan Dwyer (5-2, 3.96 ERA) has appeared in 11 games with eight starts, working 50 innings with 44 strikeouts. Andrew Nelson (1-4, 4.61 ERA) has appeared in 12 games with nine starts, working 52.2 innings. Sophomore Kyle Cody (3-0, 2.92 ERA) has five saves in 14 games, with three starts, with Logan Salow (2-2, 3.74 ERA) owning one save and Spencer Jack (2-1, 1.73 ERA) notching two saves.

Tennessee (26-16, 8-13 SEC) is coming off a series defeat at the hands of No. 6 LSU at Alex Box Stadium, with the Vols getting its first win over LSU since 2009 with a Saturday homer in the ninth inning.

The Vols have hit .282 as a team, with 68 doubles, 15 triples, 17 homers and 218 RBI, owning a .388 slugging and a .368 on-base percentage, stealing 67-of-90 bases. Defensively, UT has fielded .976, turning 29 double plays and allowing just 20 steals in 38 attempts, the fewest in the SEC. On the mound, UT has a 3.57 ERA in 378.2 innings, with 11 saves, 142 walks and 277 strikeouts.

UT has been led at the plate by freshman Nick Senzel, who has hit .350 with 10 doubles, two triples, one homer and 32 RBI, stealing 12 bases and owning a 28-22 walk-strikeout ratio. Christian Stewart has hit .347 with 14 doubles, five triples, four homers and 31 RBI. Second baseman Will Maddox has hit .313 with six doubles, two triples, three homers and 18 RBI in 42 games, stealing 16 bases. A.J. Simcox has hit .290 with a double and seven RBI, stealing 10 bases. Scott Price has hit .282 with 10 doubles, three triples, three homers and 27 RBI. Taylor Smart owns a .268 average with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 21 RBI.

In the bullpen, Cox has appeared in a team-high 22 games, saving two games. Drake Owenby (2-2, 3.68 ERA) leads the team with five saves in 19 games, striking out 22 and walking 16 in 22 innings. Josh Peterson (2-0, 2.45 ERA), Trevor Bettencourt (1-1, 2.63 ERA), Peter Lenstrohm (1-1, 3.45 ERA), Andrew Lee (4-2, 4.95 ERA) and Kyle Serrano (3-2, 5.16 ERA) have each appeared in double-digit games.

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 162-142, including an 87-65 all-time mark in games played in Knoxville. Tennessee won the last series meeting in 2013, with UK winning the series in 2012 in Knoxville and in 2011 in Lexington. UK has last swept a series at UT in 2008, with UT last sweeping UK in Knoxville in 2004.

In the 2013 meeting in Lexington, Tennessee posted a series win over the Wildcats. UK won the opener, 5-4, behind a strong start from A.J. Reed and 1.1 shutout relief innings from Chandler Shepherd. UK had a three-hit game from Kyle Barrett, with Reed and Zac Zellers each adding two hits. Aaron Quillen started for UT, working four innings, allowing five hits and no runs. Andy Cox worked 1.1 innings, allowing one run on no hits and four walks. Eric Martin, Dalton Saberhagen and Blake Thomas each worked in relief for the Vols. UT evened up the series on Saturday behind a start from Nick Williams, holding off a furious late rally for a 10-9 win. UT took a 6-2 lead with two run innings in the third, fourth and fifth, adding three in the eighth and one in the ninth. UK rallied with four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, before sending Matt Reida up with two outs in a one-run game and the bases loaded. Reida laced a liner into the gap that was caught, with UT infielder Jeff Moberg picking up the save in his only pitching appearance of 2013. Jerad Grundy worked four innings, allowing nine hits and six runs, walking two and striking out seven. UK got a four-RBI game from Reed, who hit his ninth homer of the year, with Max Kuhn also hitting a homer. UT won the finale with a 130-pitch complete-game shutout from senior Zack Godley. Godley scattered six hits and two walks, striking out eight.

Last time the two teams met in Knoxville, UK posted a series win, falling in the opener, 4-1, with UT's Zack Godley firing eight strong innings, allowing just one run. Godley outdueled Taylor Rogers, who allowed three hits and two runs in 6.1 innings. UK evened up the series in the second game, as Grundy worked 4.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, with Alex Phillips improving to 3-0 with 4.1 shutout innings in relief. UK had a three-hit, three-RBI game from J.T. Riddle, who tripled and homered. Brandon Zajac worked 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and three runs, Conner Stevens worked 2.1 innings in relief for the Vols, with T.J. Thornton working four innings, allowing one run.

UK ranks throughout the SEC stats, checking in as the league leader in average (.311), slugging (.461), on-base percentage (.408), runs (363), RBI (323), homers (44), total bases (718) and hit batters (79). UK also ranks second in hits (485), second in doubles (85) and third in walks (186). Individually, A.J. Reed leads the SEC in average (.374), slugging (.810), on-base percentage (.495), homers (19), RBI (59) and total bases (132), also ranking second in runs (50), fourth in hits (61), 14th in doubles (12), third in walks (29), 14th in ERA (2.31), sixth in innings pitched (74) and third in wins (seven). Max Kuhn leads the SEC in runs (53) and walks (32), ranking 14th in slugging (.486), fifth in on-base percentage (.445), eighth in this (60), fifth in RBI (39), 10th in doubles (13) and eighth in homers (five). Thomas Bernal ranks 11th in average (.348), 14th in on-base percentage (.419) and fourth in hit by pitches (11). Austin Cousino ranks third in runs scored (41) and eighth in hits (60), also checking in fifth in steals (14).

Portions of this article may contain materials or information provided courtesy of the Kentucky and Tennessee athletic department.