Bullpen struggles to fuel winless weekend



The UK baseball team did not start its 2011 season the way its had hoped, dropping its first three games of the year last weekend in Charleston, S.C.

On opening day, the Cats came up short against No. 20 College of Charleston 11-6. The next day, they lost again to the Marshall Thundering Herd 6-4, and on Sunday the Cats closed their disappointing weekend with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Miami University Redhawks.

Starting first baseman Braden Kapteyn put UK out in front early against College of Charleston, beginning his season with a three-run homerun in the third inning. Unfortunately, Jordan Cooper, the Cats’ starting pitcher on opening day, was unable to hold the lead for long, giving up UK’s lead by allowing four runs in the bottom of the same inning. UK would not regain the lead after that.

Cooper made his 9th career start against College of Charleston, but was unable to overcome a bad inning and was pulled after just three innings. His teammates still have faith that he will be able to recover going forward.

“You have (Jordan) Cooper, who has a lot of movement and spots up,” UK outfielder Chad Wright Jr. said. “He has the attitude every time he goes out that he is the best pitcher.”

The following day, the Cats took the field again against Marshall University, but a new day still brought the same results, and UK lost its second in a row. Despite a quality start from UK hurler Taylor Rodgers, who gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings along with seven strikeouts, the bullpen failed to hold the lead, with reliever Trevor Gott giving up four runs in the bottom of the eighth to clinch victory for the Thundering Herd.

On “get away day,” for UK, the Cats were again unable to bring a victory back to Lexington with them after falling to Miami (OH.). Once again, the bullpen was unable to keep UK in the game, allowing another eighth inning insurance run to the Redhawks that UK was unable to overcome.

“I’ve got to figure out how the bullpen is going to look, how it’s going to work,” UK manager Gary Henderson said. “Does one come before the other all the time? Can one close when the other one is done from the day before, whatever it may be? We’ve got 12, 15 guys that can throw strikes.”

One bright spot from the trip for UK was starting pitcher Alex Meyer, whose thirteen strikeout performance in seven innings on the mound earned him National Player of the Week honors.

The Cats finally return home today to face Eastern-Michigan in their home opener at Cliff Hagan stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4 P.M.