UK baseball set for home opener Tuesday

UK baseball is set to hold its home opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday. Photo by Zach Brake

By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

It may be dark. It may be cold. It may be winter. But the boys of summer are back in town.

After beginning its season with a six-game road trip, No. 8 UK baseball (5-1) returns to Lexington Tuesday for opening day at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

UK head coach Gary Henderson will give freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody the honor of starting against Murray State in the home opener.

Cody made his Cats debut in the season opening win against UNC Asheville on Feb. 18, shutting out the Bulldogs in his one inning of work.

His second and most recent appearance came in Thursday’s loss to Kansas State, throwing 15 pitches in relief.

Murray State (4-3) will send a more seasoned head to the mound Tuesday in the shape of senior right-handed pitcher Tim Vonder Haar.

Vonder Haar’s lone start of the young season saw him pick up the win in a 19-2 rout of Mid-Continent. Vonder Haar struck out seven, allowing one run on nine hits in six innings of work.

Murray State is riding a four-game winning streak, which includes a three-game sweep of Bowling Green.

Depsite putting up 45 runs on the board through their first seven games, Tuesday’s visitors have yet to hit a home run in 2013.

Murrary State’s offense has been spread around early with seven players hitting above .300. Senior Noah Zipko leads Murray State with his .412 average, only a few percentage points ahead of freshman outfielder Taylor Matthews who comes into Tuesday hitting .400.

Neither player matches the start to the season being enjoyed by UK junior J.T. Riddle.

Fifteen hits in 27 at-bats through six games sees Riddle batting .556, with seven RBIs and one of the Cats’ three home runs on the season among the highlights of his early numbers.

Sophomore outfielder Austin Cousino has also been a nuisance for opposing defenses, going 5-for-5 on stealing attempts and joining Riddle in the team lead for runs scored with nine.

UK takes to the diamond two days removed from wrapping up its weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Following the upset loss to Kansas State, the Cats rebounded with wins over Elon University and Coastal Carolina.

Tuesday’s contest marks the start of a streak of 12 home games in 16 days for the Cats.

Eastern Kentucky University waits on deck for the second game of the homestand Wednesday, but first the Cats turn their attention to home game number one and the sights and sounds of summer, in February.

First pitch in the opening day contest between the Cats and Murray State is set for 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Live Twitter updates will be provided by Kernel reporters @KyKernelGray and @TomHurleyKernel.

The game will also be broadcast live on radio on 1580-AM in Lexington on WWTF.