No. 8 UK baseball hosts Akron for 3-game series



By Nick Gray | @KyKernelGray

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UK baseball (7-1), ranked as high as No. 8 in the polls, hosts Akron (0-6) at Cliff Hagan Stadium in a three-game series beginning Friday.

The series begins at 4 p.m. Friday, with sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Reed (1-1, 5.79 ERA) scheduled to be on the mound for the Cats against Akron’s sophomore right-handed pitcher Jon Pusateri (0-1, 5.59 ERA).

The team announced Thursday the Akron series would be consolidated to a three-game series after originally being scheduled as a four-game series with a Saturday doubleheader. A spokesman with the team said the concern is weather.

UK is no stranger to Mother Nature, working around two separate delays and a postponement to put together a four-game winning streak. The Cats beat Coastal Carolina, 8-2, Sunday in a game postponed for heavy rain, and faced a three-hour rain delay before beating Murray State, 11-5, Tuesday in the home opener. UK also beat Eastern Kentucky, 6-2, Wednesday around a 65-minute delay due to winter weather before the eighth inning.

Junior infielder J.T. Riddle has paced the Cats offensively, leading the team in batting average (.529), runs scored (12) and extra base hits (5). Riddle also has an 11-game hitting streak dating back to last season and has five multi-hit games after his 2-for-3 performance against EKU.

Sophomore infielder Max Kuhn leads the Cats in walks (9) and is second in batting average (.367), runs batted in (9) and hits (11).

UK’s bullpen has also been a strength. In 33 innings, the bullpen has given up seven earned runs (10 runs total), good for a 1.91 ERA, which includes 5.2 innings against EKU where the Cats’ bullpen gave up no earned runs in relief of freshman right-handed pitcher Ryne Combs in his first start.

The Cats are the third ranked team that the Zips have faced in the young 2013 season. Akron fell in three-game sweeps at No. 20 Georgia Tech to begin the season and at No. 4 Louisville a week ago.

The Zips have scored seven runs in their six games, hitting .175 so far this season. Junior catcher Brady Stewart leads Akron in batting average (.381) and hits (8).

The Zips’ pitching staff has an earned run average of 5.81 over six games.

In the second game of the series, scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m., UK senior left-handed pitcher Jerad Grundy (2-0, 0.69 ERA) is projected to start versus Akron freshman left-handed pitcher John Valek (0-1, 5.87 ERA).

On Sunday, Cats junior left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell (0-0, 6.52 ERA) is scheduled to square off against Zips freshman right handed pitcher JT Brubaker (0-1, 5.25 ERA).

All three games will be broadcast on WWTF-1580 AM in Lexington by the UK-IMG Radio Network.