No. 7 UK baseball hosts Cincinnati

Freshman left-handed pitcher Ryne Combs throws the first pitch against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. The game was Combs' first career start for UK. Photo by Tessa Lighty.

By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

thurley@kykernel.com

UK baseball continues its 11-game home stand when it hosts Cincinnati at Cliff Hagan Stadium Tuesday.

The game could be something of an offensive explosion if recent form is anything to go by. Both teams scored 37 runs over the past weekend in which each side swept a three-game series.

No. 7 UK defeated Akron 21-2, 7-0 and 9-2 while the unranked Bearcats chalked up scores of 12-0, 17-0 and 8-3 against New York Tech.

Cincinnati (4-5) dropped its first five games of the season, before winning a 10-inning game against Western Carolina. The victory kickstarted a four-game win streak, including the sweep of NYT.

The Cats have been in a fine run of form themselves and are in the midst of a seven-game win streak that has seen them bumped from No. 8 to No. 7 in the latest Collegiate Baseball rankings.

A number of players have played strong in the early season, including sophomore pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed, who was named both SEC Player of the Week and Louisville Slugger Player of the Week.

Reed hit .526 (10-for-19) in the Cats’ five games during the week, hitting three home runs and picking up 15 RBIs. The sophomore also started Friday’s 21-2 rout of Akron, allowing six hits while striking out four in six innings of work for his second win of the season.

Reed’s four home runs and 22 RBIs leads the Cats in both categories. He is also hitting .409 on the season, a percentage bettered by only one other UK starter, junior infielder J.T. Riddle.

Cincinnati’s lineup doesn’t boast a player with a batting average as high as Riddle’s .447, but the Bearcats stat line for base steals does stand out. The Bearcats have stolen 17 bases on the season in 20 attempts, something UK’s junior catcher Micheal Thomas will need to watch out for Tuesday.

Freshman infielder Devin Wenzel leads Cincinnati in home runs, RBIs and hits, while owning the second highest batting average and slugging percentage amongst starters.

First pitch for Tuesday’s game is set for 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Freshman left-handed pitcher Ryne Combs will take the mound for the Cats. A live radio broadcast will be available on 1580-AM in Lexington, and Kernel reporters @KyKernelGray and @TomHurleyKernel providing live updates on Twitter throughout the contest.