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By Nick Gray | @KYKernelGray
UK baseball seeks to curb its recent skid when Louisville comes to Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody (3-1, 4.60 ERA) will start against No. 8 Louisville (28-7) for the No. 17 Cats (24-11, 7-8 SEC), who lost five out of seven games after defeating the Cardinals 5-4 in 10 innings two weeks ago in Louisville.
UK responded to a three-game sweep at LSU two weekends ago with wins against Austin Peay last Tuesday and Friday night against Tennessee in a comeback 5-4 victory.
But the Cats fell behind again on Saturday and Sunday, falling just short in a rally Saturday in a 10-9 Volunteers win and garnering little offense in the series-clinching 5-0 win by the visitors.
At a press conference Monday, UK head coach Gary Henderson admits his club is in the middle of a slump.
“When you go through that rough patch, the things that you aren’t doing are things you were doing. The absolute basics; two-strike approach at the plate, all of a sudden you’re taking more called thirds because you’re overthinking a little bit when you weren’t doing that early,” Henderson said.
“But I think the pressure comes not doing the things you have been doing. We’ve got a good club. But we haven’t played well for two weeks now. And that’s the truth.“
The upcoming schedule does the Cats no favors, beginning with Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals. For the second time in three weeks, UK will play Louisville then travel to a nationally-ranked conference opponent for a three-game series (at No. 14 South Carolina this weekend).
First, the Cats will face the Cardinals, who swept Elon in a three-game series last weekend. Junior infielder Ty Young leads Louisville in batting average (.400), hits (50), home runs (3) and runs batted in (39). Young also has 18 stolen bases.
Sophomore infielder Sutton Whiting is hitting .345 with 19 runs batted in. Junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon is also hitting .345 with 23 runs batted in.
Junior outfielder and team captain Adam Engel has 30 stolen bases, leading the Cardinals.
UK’s Cody started against Louisville on April 2, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits throughout 6.1 innings. Cody also worked into the sixth inning last Tuesday against Austin Peay, collecting his third win of the year.
Sophomore first baseman A.J. Reed hit his ninth home run of the season Saturday, a grand slam in the ninth inning. Reed leads the Cats in home runs, hits (42) and runs batted in (37).
Tuesday’s game will be televised on FOX Sports South at 6:30 p.m. Head football coach Mark Stoops will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.