UK hopes to end skid at WKU



By Nick Gray | @KyKernelGray

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After a three-game sweep at the hands of South Carolina that extended its losing streak to six games, UK baseball travels in-state to face Western Kentucky Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Cats (24-15, 7-11 SEC) and Hilltoppers played March 18 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, with Western Kentucky claiming a 6-3 win. UK left 15 runners on-base after the Hilltoppers (21-19, 11-7 Sun Belt) scored three runs in the first inning off of sophomore right-handed pitcher Chandler Shepherd.

UK freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (3-2, 6.21 ERA) will start  against WKU junior righty Just Hageman (1-1, 6.46 ERA).

Freshman Kyle Barrett has led the Cats from the lead-off spot with a .352 average, including going 7-for-12 against Louisville and South Carolina last week, but Barrett sat out Sunday’s game for undisclosed reasons.

One of UK’s strengths throughout the season has been their bullpen, which has posted an 11-1 record with a 2.39 ERA, led by senior right-handed pitcher Walter Wijas (0.83 ERA) and junior closer Trevor Gott (1.19 ERA).

The Cats, however, have lost nine of 11 games, including three straight SEC series, which has slid UK into fourth place in the SEC East behind Vanderbilt, Florida and South Carolina.

The Cats fell out of the Baseball America Top 25 poll and Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll after its winless, four-game week, while dropping to No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and the Perfect Game College Top 25 poll.

The Cats will play their next conference series just over 48 hours later when travel to Ole Miss for the weekly Thursday night game televised live on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.

The Hilltoppers, meanwhile, lost two of three games in their weekend series against South Alabama last weekend, but have won each of their two games against ranked competition (at then-No. 8 Kentucky, versus then-No. 8 Louisville).

Western Kentucky senior infielder Ryan Huck leads the Hilltoppers in batting average (.341), home runs (11), runs batted in (37) and runs scored (30). Huck ranks first in the Sun Belt in home runs and is tied for fifth in the conference in runs batted in.

Junior infielder Scott Wilcox leads Western Kentucky in hits with 52 while adding 10 doubles.

The game will be played at Bowling Green Ballpark, home of the Class A affiliate in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.