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By David Schuh | @DSchuhKernel
UK freshman pitcher Kyle Cody began his collegiate career this season as hot as he could have imagined. He had compiled a 3-1 record, 2.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .241 opponent batting average, the best among the Cats’ starting pitchers.
But, as he learned Tuesday night against Louisville, it isn’t so easy for an 18-year-old to succeed in top-level college baseball.
Cody lasted just 4+ innings, giving up eight earned runs on nine hits. No. 8 Louisville exploded for five runs in the third inning that broke the game open. The Cats lost 12-5 to the Cardinals in the freshman’s shortest start since Feb. 26.
“I thought the game got going really fast for Kyle in the third,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “And then obviously a tremendous lack of concentration in the sixth, and there’s the two innings and there’s the ball game.”
Coming into the game, Cody had given up just three earned runs since March 19, a span of five appearances and 15.2 innings.
He admitted to being a bit awestruck to the increased attention during the streak, a testament to how drastic the change can be.
“This is the most people I’ve pitched in front of before,” Cody said after UK’s win over Louisville April 2. “Coming from a small town, I’ve never been to a stadium this big before. “
At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, he has all the attributes to be Henderson’s next great starting pitcher. A former Cats’ pitcher of similar stature, Alex Meyer, was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals.
Henderson is viewed by many as one of the best pitching coaches in college baseball, and has a solid, experienced rotation this year to show for it.
He knows that in order to groom Cody into a quality member of his rotation for years to come, the freshman has to continue to adapt and refine his skills as he grows.
“He’s just a freshman,” Henderson said of his most recent outing. “Rather than looking like the guy he did in the first two (innings), he looked like a completely different guy … You do that to a good team, you’re going to pay. And we did.”