UK baseball opens 2015 season against Ball State


Freshman infielder/outfielder JaVon Shelby and freshman second basemen Connor Heady celebrate the win during the game between the University of Kentucky baseball team and Ball State University in Lexington , Ky.,on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Kentucky defeated Ball State 26-3 on Sunday. Photo by Michael Reaves

By Derek Terry

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UK baseball will open the 2015 season on Friday in Wilmington, N.C., where the Cats will play Ball State of the Mid-American Conference. The matchup will be the first of three games that UK will play during the weekend, facing Richmond on Saturday and host team UNC-Wilmington on Sunday.

Ball State finished last season as the MAC regular season champions with a 39-18 record. The Cardinals bid for an NCAA Tournament berth came up short, however, as they lost to Western Michigan in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament.

The Cats won two out of three games against Ball State in a weekend series at Cliff Hagan Stadium last season. UK dropped the first game 10-8 before coming back and putting up 50 runs in the next two games, winning 24-1 and 26-3, respectively.

UK junior pitcher Dustin Beggs will get his first career start for UK on Friday. Beggs, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right hander, transferred to UK at the end of last season from Georgia Perimeter College. He led all of junior college baseball with 125 strikeouts in 2014 and finished with an 11-4 record and a 1.65 earned run average.

Beggs was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 17th round of the MLB draft last year, but decided to forgo the minor leagues and attend UK instead.

Ball State sophomore pitcher Zach Plesac will get the opening-day start for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right hander finished last season with a 12-2 record and a 2.11 earned run average. He also recorded six saves for Ball State.

Plesac was named the Collegiate Baseball National Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2014. He also earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American recognition and was named to the Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team.

First pitch between Ball State and UK is set for noon.