Baseball Cats travel for showdown with No. 2 LSU



By Tom Hurley |  @TomHurleyKernel

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UK baseball is back on the road this weekend, fresh off an extra innings win over Louisville in the Cats’ in-state rivals’ backyard Tuesday.

No. 7 UK travels to Baton Rouge, La., Friday to begin a three-game series with No. 2 Louisiana State.

The Tigers are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak and have won all but two of their games so far in 2013.

Brigham Young University and Mississippi State are the only teams to defeat LSU this season.

UK (26-6, 6-3 SEC) got the better of LSU last season when the two schools met for a three-game series in Lexington.

After dropping the first game of the series, the Cats battled back with a pair of wins to clinch the series, 2-1.

UK head coach Gary Henderson will look to his weekend starting rotation to lead the Cats to a similar outcome.

Henderson will send sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Reed to the mound Friday, senior left-handed pitcher Jerad Grundy on Saturday and junior left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell on Sunday.

If the series is tied heading into Sunday’s finale, Henderson will send Littrell to the bump safe in the knowledge that the southpaw is 8-0 in series-deciding games in the past two seasons.

LSU (27-2, 8-1 SEC) head coach Paul Mainieri will place the ball in the hands of sophomore right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola on Friday and junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Eades on Saturday.

At the time of going to press, Mainieri had yet to disclose who will pitch for the Tigers in Sunday’s series finale.

LSU’s offense is spearheaded by freshman middle infielder Alex Bregman and senior utility player Mason Katz.

Bregman’s 55 hits leads the Tigers and the New Mexico native is hitting .440 in his first season at the collegiate level.

Bregman is also a threat on the bases, successfully stealing a base on each of his nine attempts.

Katz has driven in 49 RBIs, hit 13 home runs and averages .429 in the batters box. Both players have started all 29 games this season.

The Cats’ attack continues to be led by sophomore second baseman J.T. Riddle and his .352 batting average.

Reed, who plays at first base or at designated hitter when not pitching, leads the Cats in RBIs (30), total bases (65) and home runs (7).

Reed and freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett are both hitting .333 on the season, with Barrett yet to hit into a double-play so far in his maiden college campaign.

UK has won five of its six road games thus far in 2013 and should see a rise up the rankings if they continued to fill the road wins column this weekend.

The UK IMG Network will broadcast all three games live on WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky, starting with Friday’s 8 p.m. series opener.

Satuday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s matinee gets under way at 1 p.m. All three games will be played at LSU’s 10, 326 capacity Alex Box Stadium.