Kentucky completes doubleheader sweep of Auburn

May 9, 2009
Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

In the top of the ninth, Chris Rusin strikes out Wes Gilmer and gets Casey McElroy on a comebacker. Tony Caldwell keeps Auburn alive with a single to center, the Tigers’ sixth hit of the game. Rusin caps his complete-game victory, though, getting Chezz McCann to ground to short for the forceout at second. Rusin finishes with nine strikeouts. FINAL SCORE: KENTUCKY 6, AUBURN 3.

Kentucky takes 6-3 lead into ninth inning

Auburn lefty Sean Ray completes his sixth inning of shutout relief, retiring Kentucky in order. That runs his string of batters retired to 11 batters in a row. Going to the ninth inning: Kentucky 6, Auburn 3.

Auburn scores again to cut UK lead to 6-3
Hunter Morris

Hunter Morris

Auburn gets something going in the eighth when Justin Hargett lines a one-out double down the right-field line. Trent Mummey follows with a walk. Runners advance to second and third on Brian Fletcher’s chopper to third. Hunter Morris singles through the left side to drive in Hargett. The Cats catch a break, though, as Mummey stumbles over third base and holds up. A TV replay seems to indicate that a brush by third baseman Chris McClendon caused the stumble. Tigers Manager John Pawlowski argues for an interference call, but gets no satisfaction. Ben Jones flies to Keenan Wiley on the center-field warning track. In the middle of the eighth: Kentucky 6, Auburn 3.

Nothing for UK in 7th; Cats lead Auburn 6-2

Kentucky is retired in orther in the seventh, Sean Ray’s fifth inning of shutout relief. Going to the eighth: Kentucky 6, Auburn 2.

Auburn breaks up shutout but trails Kentucky 6-2
Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Auburn gets its second hit of the game as Justin Hargett leads off the seventh with an infield single. One out later, Chris Rusin hits Brian Fletcher with a pitch, giving the Tigers two men on base for the first time in the game. A walk to Hunter Morris loads the bases. Center fielder Keenan Wiley makes a diving attempt to snare a sinking liner off the bat of Ben Jones. Wiley can’t pull it off, but his attempt holds the runners long enough that only one run scores. Wes Gilmer is called out on strikes. A second run scores as Casey McElroy draws a walk. Rusin hustles off the mound to field Tony Caldwell’s tapper, firing to first just in time to get the third out. Seventh-inning stretch time: Kentucky 6, Auburn 2.

Cats get zip in sixth, but lead Auburn 6-0

Nothing doing for Kentucky in a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Going to the seventh: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Bisson busy as Auburn goes quietly in sixth inning

It’s another “vanquished in order” for Auburn in the sixth inning. Casey McElroy, Tony Caldwell and Chezz McCann all are put away on grounders to second baseman Chris Bisson. In the middle of the sixth: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Ray fires third inning of shutout relief; UK leads 6-0
Sean Ray

Sean Ray

Kentucky gets a one-out single from Gunner Glad, but that’s all. Second baseman Justin Hargett gets the third out by making a diving catch of Marcus Nidiffer’s pop to short center. Auburn reliever Sean Ray has now put up three shutout innings. Going to the sixth inning: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Auburn vanquished in sequence by Rusin

Let’s see, how to find another way to say “retired in order” or “out 1-2-3″ … Ah! Auburn is vanquished in sequence in the fifth inning. UK’s Chris Rusin picks up his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game. In the middle of the fifth, Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Kentucky down 1-2-3 in fourth, but leads Auburn 6-0

For the first time in the game, Kentucky goes down in order in the fourth, with two groundouts and a strikeout. At the end of four innings: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Auburn goes down in order in fourth, trails 6-0
Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

Auburn continues to struggle against UK left-hander Chris Rusin. Another 1-2-3 inning includes Rusin’s fourth strikeout — on in each inning — and a Rusin assist on Justin Hargett’s liner up the middle. The pitcher’s deflection gives shortstop Chris Wade enough time to throw out the runner at first. In the middle of the fourth: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Wade homers, pads UK’s lead over Auburn to 6-0
Chris Wade

Chris Wade

Kentucky expands its lead in the third as sophomore Chris Wade leads off with a home run to the light tower in left-center, his sixth dinger of the season. Auburn lefty Grant Dayton — who blanked UK on five hits over six innings last season — hits his third batter of the game, Marcus Nidiffer. Tigers Coach John Pawlowski calls to the bullpen for another southpaw, Sean Ray. The new pitcher deflects a liner off the bat of Keenan Wiley, with shortstop Casey McElroy making the catch on the fly. Nidiffer is doubled off first. Spencer Korus grounds out. After three complete innings: Kentucky 6, Auburn 0.

Auburn gets nothing in 3rd, trails Kentucky 5-0

Kentucky senior Chris Rusin retires Auburn in order in the third inning, picking up his third strikeout of the game en route. Going to the bottom of the third: Kentucky 5, Auburn 0.

Cats add two in 2nd to take 5-0 lead over Auburn
Chad Wright

Chad Wright

Andy Burns

Andy Burns

Back to business for Kentucky in the second, with some help from Auburn’s Grant Dayton. The left-hander starts the inning by hitting Keenan Wiley. One out later, a wild pitch moves Wiley to second. Chris McClendon also gets plunked by a pitch. Chad Wright singles to right, driving in Wiley and pushing McClendon to third. Andy Burns’ fly to left scores McClendon. Chris Bisson singles to left, but Gunner Glad pops up. Through two innings: Kentucky 5, Auburn 0.

Auburn second-inning single goes for naught

Auburn gets its first hit of the game, a two-out single to left by Wes Gilmer. He’s caught stealing, though, with catcher Marcus Nidiffer throwing to shortstop Chris Wade. With Kentucky coming to bat in the bottom of the second: Wildcats 3, Tigers 0.

Glad’s two-run homer highlights UK’s 3-run first

Gunner Glad

Gunner Glad

Kentucky’s half of the first inning opens with Chad Wright reaching on a fielding error by Auburn second baseman Justin Hargett. As Andy Burns strikes out, Wright steals second. A low throw skips off second baseman Justin Hargett, allowing Wright to continue to third. Catcher Tony Caldwell is charged with the error. Chris Bisson’s infield single (behind the second-base bag) drives in Wright. Gunner Glad belts the next pitch over the right-field wall, a two-run homer that makes it 3-0. At the end of one inning: Kentucky 3, Auburn 0.

Rusin retires Auburn in order in 1st inning

In the top of the first, Kentucky left-hander Chris Rusin retires Auburn in order, sandwiching a pair of groundouts around a called third strike. After half an inning: no score.

Starting lineups for Saturday’s second game

Lineups for Saturday’s second game between Kentucky and Auburn — Senior Night at Cliff Hagan Stadium:

Auburn (27-23, 8-17 SEC)Justin Hargett, 2B; Trent Mummey, CF; Brian Fletcher, LF; Hunter Morris, 1B; Ben Jones, RF; Wes Gilmer, 3B; Casey McElroy, SS; Tony Caldwell, C; Chezz McCann, DH. Pitching — LH Grant Dayton (2-5, 5.61).

Kentucky (25-23, 10-15) Chad Wright, LF; Andy Burns, DH; Chris Bisson, 2B; Gunner Glad, 1B; Chris Wade, SS; Marcus Nidiffer, C; Keenan Wiley, CF; Spencer Korus, RF; Chris McClendon, 3B. Pitcher — LH Chris Rusin (5-4, 4.07).

Umpires A.J. Lostaglio, plate; Kevin Assman, 1B; Nelson Graham, 3B.

SEC baseball: Auburn at Kentucky II

As Auburn and Kentucky prepare for their second game of the day, the weather at Cliff Hagan Stadium is markedly different than it was for Saturday’s 2 p.m. first-game start. Total cloud cover has given way to clear skies. The temperature is 70 degrees, with a 16 mph wind blowing out to left field.

Kentucky won the opener, 6-5 in 10 innings.

We’ll have lineups for the second game soon.

In a matchup of left-handers, Kentucky is expected to start Chris Rusin (5-4, 4.07) against Auburn’s Grant Dayton (2-5, 5.61).

Kentucky-Auburn baseball postponed

May 8, 2009

Friday’s Southeastern Conference baseball game between Kentucky and Auburn has been postponed due to rain.

The three-game series at UK’s Cliff Hagan Stadium now will start Saturday with two games.

The game postponed Friday will start Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday’s regularly scheduled game will be televised on the Big Blue Sports Network, starting at 7 p.m.. Sunday’s game is set for 1 p.m.

Probable pitchers in the opener are left-hander James Paxton (5-2, 5.40) of Kentucky against RH Jon Luke Jacobs (3-4, 6.23). The second game will pit another UK lefty, Chris Rusin (5-4, 4.07), against LH Grant Dayton (2-5, 5.61). Auburn will go with right-hander Dexter Price (3-2, 5.74) in the finale, with UK’s starter yet to be announced.

Kentucky-Auburn in a rain delay

It’s a beautiful day for baseball!

Just not at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Friday’s scheduled game, Auburn at Kentucky, will not get off at the scheduled time (6:30 p.m.) as rain continues to fall. Coaches and umpires are scheduled to meet at 6:40 to decide whether to play, postpone or wait some more.

The teams also have games scheduled Saturday and Sunday, both with hopes of being among the eight teams that will qualify for the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Kentucky comes into the weekend ninth in the SEC (9-15), Auburn 10th (8-16). Vanderbilt holds the eighth spot (10-13).

UK (24-23 overall) took two of three games from Tennessee last weekend. The Wildcats finish SEC play next week — at SEC East-leading Florida.

Auburn (27-22) has lost seven in a row in league play — one to South Carolina, followed by three-game sweeps at the hands of top 10 teams LSU and Ole Miss. Auburn finishes league play at home next week, facing arch-rival Alabama.

Despite 17 strikeouts, Vols upend Cats 8-2

May 2, 2009

Kentucky pitchers struck out 17 and starter Chris Rusin (14 K’s) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Saturday.


Yet, Tennessee’s pulled out the 8-2 victory at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

“We struck out, but we did have some good swings in between those,” said Todd Raleigh, coach of the Volunteers. “We hit three homers and almost four … but that kid (Rusin) pitched a heck of a game.”

Kentrail Davis broke up the no-hitter and shutout with a two-run homer that gave Tennessee a 2-1 lead. Tyler Horne led off the seventh with a homer and Cody Brown added a three-run shot in the eighth.

The outcome evens the three-game series at a game apiece. Both sides see Sunday’s finale as a must-win situation. UK (23-23, 9-14 SEC) began the day ninth in the SEC overall standings, the Vols (21-26, 7-16) 11th. Only eight teams will qualify for the SEC Tournament, May 20-24 at Hoover, Ala.

Gary Henderson

Gary Henderson

“Absolutely,” UK Coach Gary Henderson said of the “must-win” assessment. “We’ve got to win a series, we’re at home and then you’ve got to win another series next weekend. So absolutely.”

Todd Raleigh

Todd Raleigh

“It is,” Raleigh agreed. “It has to be. We figured we had to win two this weekend, we’ve got to win two against South Carolina and two against Vandy to have a chance. So it’s a must win.”

Rusin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior, said that he struggled with his command early. He issued a pair of first-inning walks, the first first-inning walks he’s surrendered all season. But he also baffled the Vols, striking out 10 over five no-hit innings.

“Really a shame to waste Chris Rusin’s effort,” Henderson said.

UK didn’t do much against Tennessee righty Ty’Relle Harris.

Marcus Nidiffer, who singled, scored on Chris McClendon’s second-inning double for a 1-0 lead.

Bryan Morgado

Bryan Morgado

In the fifth, McClendon lined an infield single off of Harris’ throwing hand. Harris retired the next two batters, then turned things over to lefty Bryan Morgado. (Raleigh said later that Harris “is fine.”)

“I was expecting to go in in the sixth, not in the fifth, so I didn’t have very many (warm-up) pitches to go in there,” Morgado said. “But I knew I had to battle my way through and find a way to keep my team in the game.”

He did, going the last 4 1/3 innings while holding UK to a run, two hits and four walks. Morgado (3-1) struck out five.

Rusin’s sixth-inning trouble began with the fourth of his five walks in the game, this one to leadoff batter Zach Osborne. P.J. Polk bunted Osborne to second.

Kentrail Davis

Kentrail Davis

Davis jumped on an 0-1 pitch, drilling the ball deep into the parking lot beyond right field.

“We didn’t panic at all,” Davis said. “We got some good pitches to hit. He had our number for a minute there. We just settled down, not try to do too much and we started getting some hits.”

As for the big first hit, Davis said, “There was a man on second, so I knew he wasn’t going to give me anything special to hit. He threw me a good breaking ball and I just kept my hands back and I hit it.”

After Horne’s homer made it 3-1, UK got a run in the seventh without benefit of a hit.

A hit batsman, walk and sacrifice put runners on second and third. A Morgado wild pitch scored Nidiffer. Two more walks, sandwiched around a strikeout, loaded the bases, but the inning ended when Andy Burns lined out to right field.

“When somebody gives you that opportunity, if you’re going to win the ball game, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Henderson said. “Somebody’s got to step up and get a base hit and put a crooked number up there, and get us back in the ball game.”

Instead, the momentum swung back to Tennessee, which struck for four runs in the eighth. The big blow was Brown’s three-run homer, which came on the first pitch offered by UK reliever Braden Kapteyn.

Rusin was charged with six runs, five hits and five walks over 7 1/3 innings. He threw 124 pitches, 75 for strikes.

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

“We didn’t get the win so (14 strikeouts) doesn’t feel too good,” Rusin said. “I made a couple mistakes and it cost me three runs.”

Which leaves the Cats with a must win in order to take the series.

“I think we’ll be good,” Rusin said. “We’ve just got to come out aggressive and we’ll win the series.”

Would one ever think of being on a team that struck out 17 times and somehow pulled out a win?

“Never. Never,” Davis said. “I don’t think anybody, any coach, any player would have. But we stayed focused and got it done.”

SEC baseball final: Tennessee 8, Kentucky 2

May 2, 2009

Tennessee lefty Bryan Morgado seals things in the ninth by getting Chris McClendon to ground out for the first out. Braden Kapteyn reaches on a bloop single, but Troy Frazier lines out to third and Chad Wright strikes out. FINAL SCORE: Tennessee 8, Kentucky 2.

Cats face 8-2 deficit in bottom of the ninth

Tennessee gets a double from P.J. Polk to open the ninth. One out later, pinch-runner Jarred Frazier steals third. Frazier scores on Blake Forsythe’s single off the old scoreboard in right field. Two more strikeouts in the inning are a Vols season-high 17 for the game. Going to the bottom of the ninth: Tennessee 8, Kentucky 2.

Vols take 7-2 lead over UK into 9th
With one out in the eighth, Gunner Glad doubles down the left-field line and takes third when P.J. Polk kicks the ball for an error. A strikeout and groundout leave Glad stranded. Going to the ninth, Kentucky brings in Logan Darnell to pitch. The score: Tennessee 7, Kentucky 2.
Vols break through with 4 in 8th, lead Cats 7-2

Tennessee restores its two-run cushion in the eighth. Chris Rusin matches the UK season high of 14 strikeouts by

Cody Brown

Cody Brown

getting leadoff batter P.J. Polk. (James Paxton struck out 14 at LSU.) Kentrail Davis reaches on a high-hop infield single, then steals second. Blake Forsythe singles to center. Davis, planning to stop at third, continues home when center fielder Keenan Wiley bobbles the ball for an error. Cody Hawn singles, Forsythe stopping at second. That knocks out Rusin, who finishes with 14 strikeouts and having thrown 75 of 124 pitches for strikes. Braden Kapteyn, the DH, replaces Rusin. First pitch, Cody Brown greets Kapteyn with a three-run homer to right-center. Tyler Horne singles through the left side and Cody Grisham bunts for Tennessee’s sixth consecutive hit. A wild pitch puts the runners on second and third. Matt Ramsey strikes out for the fourth time in as many at-bats and Zach Osborne pops up to the pitcher. In the middle of the eighth: Tennessee 7, Kentucky 2.

Cats strike back in seventh to cut deficit to 1

UK’s half of the seventh begins with Marcus Nidiffer getting hit by a Bryan Morgado pitch. Keenan Wiley works an eight-pitch walk. Chris McClendon bunts the runners to second and third. On a full count, Braden Kapteyn draws a walk on a wild pitch that allows Nidiffer to score and Wiley to take third. UK Coach Gary Henderson sends Troy Frazier in to bat for Bryan Rose. Frazier also works the count full before taking a called third strike. Kapteyn steals second base without a play. Chad Wright, on yet another full count, walks to load the bases. Andy Burns lines an 0-1 pitch deep to right field, but right at Matt Ramsey, for the final out. Frazier remains in the game for UK, playing right field. At the end of seven innings: Tennessee 3, Kentucky 2.

Rusin gets 13th strikeout, but Vols pad lead to 3-1
Tyler Horne

Tyler Horne

Tennessee’s second hit of the game look much like the first one — a home run. Tyler Horne leads off the seventh inning with a line drive off the scoreboard in left-center. Chris Rusin retires the next three in order, including his career-high 13th strikeout of the game. That moves Rusin into third place on UK’s career strikeout list with 260, one more than Brandon Webb compiled from 1998 through 2000. Seventh-inning stretch time: Tennessee 3, Kentucky 1.

Tennessee leads Kentucky 2-1 through 6th

Kentucky gets a one-out walk to Chris Bisson, but he gets picked off by pitcher Bryan Morgado. Going to the seventh inning: Tennessee 2, Kentucky 1.

Vols’ Davis breaks up no-hitter with 2-run homer
Kentrail Davis

Kentrail Davis

Tennessee’s Kentrail Davis ends Chris Rusin’s no-hit, shutout bid, as well as Kentucky’s lead with one mighty swing. Zach Osborne leads off the sixth with a walk, taking second on P.J. Polk’s sacrifice bunt. Davis then takes an 0-1 pitch deep into the parking lot beyond the right-field wall for a two-run homer. Blake Forsythe becomes Rusin’s 11th strikeout victim, but the UK lefty issues his season-high fifth walk of the game, this one to Cody Hawn. Rusin fans Cody Brown. In the middle of the sixth inning: Tennessee 2, Kentucky 1.

Cats head to 6th clinging to 1-0 lead over Vols

Kentucky’s fifth inning starts with an infield single — a hot shot off the throwing hand of pitcher Ty’Relle Harris — by Chris McClendon. Braden Kapteyn bunts McClendon to second base. Harris retires Bryan Rose on a fly ball. Then, apparently because of the ball he took off his hand, Harris exits and left-hander Bryan Morgado takes over. A passed ball allows McClendon to take third base. Chad Wright, on a full-count pitch, goes down swinging. Through five innings: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Rusin strikes out the side again in fifth

In the fifth, UK left-hander Chris Rusin strikes out the side for the second inning in a row. Rusin has 10 strikeouts overall, his latest victims being Tyler Horne, Cody Grisham and Matt Ramsey. Horne went down swinging, the other two taking called third strikes. In the middle of the fifth: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Double play ends Cats’ chances in fourth
Marcus Nidiffer

Marcus Nidiffer

Kentucky gets a one-out single from Marcus Nidiffer, his second hit of the game. But Keenan Wiley grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. At the end of four innings: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Rusin strikes out the side in fourth; Cats lead 1-0

Tennessee’s Kentrail Davis opens the fourth by drawing a walk. But UK lefty Chris Rusin strikes out Blake Forsythe, Cody Hawn and Cody Brown. Through 3 1/2 innings, Rusin has seven strikeouts, with the score: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Kentucky leads Tennessee 1-0 through 3rd

Kentucky’s Andy Burns pokes a two-out single through the right side of the infield. But Chris Bisson bounces into a fielder’s choice. At the end of three innings: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Rusin sets Vols down in order in third

UK lefty Chris Rusin retires Tennessee in order for a second consecutive inning. getting a pair of groundouts and his fourth strikeout of the game. In the middle of the third: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

McClendon double gives Cats 1-0 lead in 2nd
Chris McClendon

Chris McClendon

In the Kentucky second, Marcus Nidiffer fists a one-out bloop single down the left-field line, just over the reach of third baseman Cody Brown. One out later, Chris McClendon rips a run-scoring double towards the scoreboard in left-center. Nidiffer just beats the throw to the plate, with McClendon taking third on the throw. Braden Kapteyn lines out to left. After two innings: Kentucky 1, Tennessee 0.

Vols go down in order in 2nd
Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

Tennessee goes down in order in the second as Chris Rusin picks up his third strikeout and gets a pair of fly balls. In the middle of the second: Kentucky 0, Tennessee 0.

Cats, Vols scoreless through first

Kentucky gets a bad-hop infield single from Chad Wright to open the bottom of the first. But Andy Burns lines to left and Chris Bisson grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Through one inning: Kentucky 0, Tennessee 0.

Tennessee threatens in first

UK lefty Chris Rusin retires the first two batters of the game, but then gives up his first first-inning walk of the season — to Kentrail Davis. Wild pitches advance Davis to second, then third, before Blake Forsythe walks. Forsythe steals second without a play. But Rusin strikes out Cody Hawn on a full-count pitch. After half an inning: Tennessee 0, Kentucky 0.

SEC baseball: Tennessee at Kentucky, game 2

Getting set for the second game of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky scored six runs in the sixth inning, rallying from a 3-0 deficit, en route to a 6-4 victory over Tennessee in Friday’s opener.

The teams enter play Saturday ninth (UK, 9-13) and 11th (UT, 6-16) in the SEC. Only the top eight will qualify for the SEC Tournament, May 20-24, at Hoover, Ala. South Carolina (10-12) is in the eighth spot, a game ahead of Kentucky.

The lineups:

Tennessee Zach Osborne, ss; P.J. Polk, lf; Kentrail Davis, cf; Blake Forsythe, c; Cody Hawn, 1b; Cody Brown, 3b; Tyler Horne, dh; Cody Grisham, 2b; Matt Ramsey, rf. Pitching — RH Ty’Relle Harris (4-4, 6.57).

KentuckyChad Wright, lf; Andy Burns, ss; Chris Bisson, 2b; Gunner Glad, 1b; Marcus Nidiffer, c; Keenan Wiley, cf; Chris McClendon, 3b; Braden Kapteyn, dh; Bryan Rose, rf. Pitching — LH Chris Rusin (5-3, 3.73).

UmpiresJohn Whitaker, plate; Owen Butts, 1b; Tony Maners, 3b.

Weather – 56 degrees, overcast, calm wind.

Georgia completes sweep, taking pair of 7-4 games

April 11, 2009
In the bottom of the ninth, Spencer Korus, pinch-hitter Chad Wright and Keenan Wiley strike out in order. Final score: Georgia 7, Kentucky 4.
Georgia goes down 1-2-3 in the ninth. Michael Palazzone comes out of the Bulldogs bullpen to face UK in the bottom of the ninth. The score: Georgia 7, Kentucky 4.
Cats get a run in the eighth but leave bases juiced
In the bottom of the eighth, UK’s Keenan Wiley leads off with a walk. One out later, Wiley takes second on an infield single by Andy Burns. Lefty Justin Earle replaces Jeff Walters on the mound for Georgia. Chris Bisson lines a single off the glove of second baseman Michael Demperio, loading the bases. Wiley scores and Burns takes third on Chris Wade’s sacrifice foul fly down the right-field line. Gunner Glad walks, loading the bases. Chris McClendon bounces to second, ending the inning with a fielder’s choice. For the second time in the game, UK leaves the bases loaded, bringing its game total to 12 left on. Going to the ninth inning: Georgia 7, Kentucky 4.
Bulldogs strand a runner in 8th
Georgia strands a runner in a scoreless eighth inning. Heading to the bottom of the inning: Georgia 7, Kentucky 3.
Kentucky gets one in the seventh, pulls to within 7-3

For Georgia, Michael Demperio enters the game at second base, replacing pinch-hitter Chase Davidson. Then, the Cats call their bank shots. With one out, a Chris Wade single deflects off of a diving Demperio. Gunner Glad singles off diving third baseman Colby May. The ball caroms into left field, allowing Wade to continue to third base. Chris McClendon works the count full, then walks to load the bases. Wade scores and Glad moves to third on a sacrifice fly to right by Spencer Korus. After seven innings: Georgia 7, Kentucky 3

Georgia adds three runs with two-out rally
UK starter Chris Rusin retires the first two batters in the seventh. But singles by Rich Poythress and Bryce Massanari, followed by a walk to Colby May, load the bases. UK Coach Gary Henderson calls on right-hander Braden Kapteyn to take over on the mound. Joey Lewis knocks a bloop single to left-center, driving in two runs; May stops at second base. Lyle Allen drives an RBI single up the middle, moving Lewis to second. Chase Davidson, pinch-hitting for Miles Starr, strikes out. Going to the bottom of the seventh: Georgia 7, Kentucky 2.
Cats get one in sixth to pull to within 4-2
UK’s Troy Frazier draws a one-out walk in the sixth. Keenan Wiley gets hit by a pitch and starts towards first base, only to be called back by plate umpire Tony Maners, who apparently rules the ball hit Wiley’s bat. Wiley and UK Coach Gary Henderson protest, with Wiley taking off his batting glove to show where the ball hit. Convinced, Maners sends Wiley to first, with Frazier taking second. After a brief protest from Georgia Coach David Perno, Marcus Nidiffer knocks an RBI single through the left side. Wiley stops at third base. Perno pulls his starter, Alex McRee, in favor of Jeff Walters, a righty who earned the save in Saturday’s first game. Shortstop Levi Hyams makes a nice play on an Andy Burns grounder to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, the relay to first being close enough that Henderson raced out to protest — this time with no success. After six innings: Georgia 4, Kentucky 2.
Bulldogs strike for three runs in 6th, lead 4-1
Rich Poythress

Rich Poythress

Georgia regains the lead in the sixth. Rich Poythress leads off with his 15th homer of the season, to the deck in right-center. That gives the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead and increases Poythress’ NCAA-leading RBI total to 58. Georgia has homered in 32 of 34 games this season. Bryce Massanari follows with a single through the right side. He’s wiped out as Colby May grounds into a fielder’s choice. Joey Lewis flies to right. Lyle Allen reaches on an infield single, thanks to May’s hustle to avoid a force at second. A double steal moves the runners to second and third. Both runners score as Miles Starr singles past diving third baseman Chris McClendon. Starr continues to second as the throw from left fielder Troy Frazier comes home. Chris Rusin, with his 100th pitch of the game, strikes out Levi Hyams. In the middle of the sixth inning: Georgia 4, Kentucky 1.

Cats go down quietly in fifth

Bulldogs left Alex McRee matches Chris Rusin’s effort in the top half of the inning, setting Kentucky down in order. Going to the sixth inning: Kentucky 1, Georgia 1.

Georgia goes down in order in the 5th

UK lefty Chris Rusin records his first 1-2-3 inning, getting a strikeout and a pair of groundouts. In the middle of the fifth: Kentucky 1, Georgia 1.

Cats strand a pair of runners in 4th

UK parlays a leadoff walk and a two-out infield single to put runners on the corners. But Chris Bisson grounds to second, putting the Cats’ stranded runners total at six. After four complete innings: Kentucky 1, Georgia 1.

Rusin shows a whole lotta glove

Georgia gets back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth inning. But UK lefty Chris Rusin extracts himself from the jam by making a spectacular play on a Miles Starr shot up the middle that seems destined for a single. Rusin makes a back-handed stab to start a 1-6-3 double play. Going to the bottom of the fourth: Kentucky 1, Georgia 1.

Wildcats tie it up but leave bases loaded
Marcus Nidiffer

Marcus Nidiffer

Kentucky’s half of the third starts with a Marcus Nidiffer double down the third-base line. No. 9 hitter Andy Burns draws a full-count walk. Chris Bisson goes down on a pop-bunt foul, but Chris Wade draws a four-pitch walk to load the bags with one out. Gunner Glad coaxes a full-count walk to score Nidiffer. Chris McClendon goes down on a soft liner to shortstop Levi Hyams. Spencer Korus goes down swinging, leaving the bags loaded. Through three innings: Kentucky 1, Georgia 1.

Bulldogs get third-inning single
Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

Top of the third, Georgia’s Rich Poythress laces a one-out single through the left side of the infield. But Chris Rusin strikes out Bryce Massanari to end the inning. Through 2 1/2 innings: Georgia 1, Kentucky 0.

Cats keep Georgia shortstop Hyams busy

Kentucky goes down 1-2-3 in the second, all on bouncing balls to shortstop Levi Hyams. The first, by Spencer Korus, was deflected to Hyams by pitcher Alex McRee. After two innings: Georgia 1, Kentucky 0.

Georgia wastes leadoff walk

Georgia wastes a leadoff walk in the second inning. Going to the bottom of the inning: Georgia 1, Kentucky 0.

Cats get leadoff single, but no more

Kentucky gets a leadoff single from Chris Bisson, but Georgia left-hander Alex McRee retires the next three batters in order. After one inning: Georgia 1, Kentucky 0.

Georgia grabs the early lead

Peter Verdin and Matt Cerione lead off with back-to-back scratch singles for Georgia. After retiring Rich Poythress — the NCAA leader in RBI — UK pitcher Chris Rusin gets Bryce Massanari to ground a potential double play ball to shortstop. However, the ball skips under Chris Wade’s glove for a run-scoring error. Kentucky first baseman Gunner Glad gloves Colby May’s soft liner, then dives into the bag to double off Massanari. After half an inning: Georgia 1, Kentucky 0.

Play ball!

Here are the lineups for the second game of Saturday’s Southeastern Conference day-night doubleheader at the University of Kentucky’s Cliff Hagan Stadium. Georgia won the opener 7-4.

 Georgia – Peter Verdin, rf; Matt Cerione, cf; Rich Poythress, 1b; Bryce Massanari, dh; Colby May, 3b; Joey Lewis, c; Lyle Allen, lf; Miles Starr, 2b; Levi Hyams, ss. Pitching — LH Alex McRee (3-0, 2.08).

Kentucky – Chris Bisson, 2b; Chris Wade, ss; Gunner Glad, 1b; Chris McClendon, 3b; Spencer Korus, rf; Troy Frazier, lf; Keenan Wiley, cf; Marcus Nidiffer, c; Andy Burns, dh. Pitching — LH Chris Rusin (4-2, 3.83).

Umpires – Tony Maners, hp; Darrell Arnold, 1b; Ray Gregson, 3b.

Rusin, Burns lead UK’s 5-0 win over Indiana State

March 7, 2009


Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin threw eight shutout innings, while Andy Burns went 3-for-3 with three RBI as Kentucky shut out Indiana State 5-0 Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Rusin, a senior left-hander, gave up six hits and a walk, striking out nine. Now 2-1, he threw 110 pitches, 73 for strikes, and dropped his ERA from 6.75 to 3.63. Only one Indiana State runner reached second base — in an eighth inning that included two errors and Rusin’s lone walk.

Tyler Henry closed with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Burns drove in UK’s first three runs. His second-inning triple scored two runs, and a fourth-inning sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

“It’s a lot off your chest when you get the runs and you can just go out there and throw,” Rusin said. “Nothing to hold back, throw a lot of strikes, get some early action and, hopefully, you can go the whole game.”

UK pitchers have allowed one walk in 18 innings against Indiana State. The Wildcats for a three-game sweep Sunday at 1 p.m.

In addition to his offensive production, Burns contributed some nifty defense from the get-go. The second batter of the game, Koby Kraemer, hit a slow roller in no-man’s land between the mound, third and short. Burns charged, made a clean pick and threw out Kraemer.

An inning later, Sycamores leadoff batter Luke Fieser singled. Tyler Graham tried to advance Fieser with a bunt.

Gary Henderson

Gary Henderson

However, Burns charged, plucked the popup out of the air, then fired to first to double off Fieser.

“The ball just kept finding me,” Burns said, “and that’s what you’ve got to do in a game like that.”

Coach Gary Henderson liked what he saw from Burns.

“I thought he was much more aggressive at third base. Much more aggressive, looser, more confident,” Henderson said. “And, boy, it’s surprising how often those things go hand in hand with a young player. A little success on one side, then helps out the other side. (I’m) really pleased with his development. Obviously, it was a great day for him.”

Following are the notes filed live during the game.

Baseball final: Kentucky 5, Indiana State 0

UK’s Tyler Henry retired Luke Fieser, Brian Jett and pinch-hitter Brian Ramirez in order in the ninth. Final score: Kentucky 5, Indiana State 0.

A full recap will be coming in Sunday’s Herald-Leader and online at

 Wildcats take 5-0 lead to ninth inning

UK’s Andy Burns notches his third hit of the game, a single, but that’s all for UK in the eighth. RHP Tyler Henry will come on in the ninth and try to close the shutout. Through eight: UK 5, ISU 0.

Rusin wriggles out of jam in 8th; UK leads 5-0

Fielding errors on SS Chris Wade and 2B Chris Bisson, plus a two-out walk to Nick Ciolli, put Chris Rusin in a bind in the top of the eighth.  A 6-4-3 double play and called third strike led to two runners being stranded. Bisson’s error was the first by a UK second baseman in 376 days. The previous E was charged to Neiko Johnson in February of 2008. Going to the bottom of the eighth: UK 5, ISU 0

Wildcats take 5-0 lead into the eighth inning

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, UK’s Marcus Nidiffer singles and Chad Wright walks. But RH Brandon Smith retires Neiko Johnson on a liner to center, then gets pinch-hitter Bryan Rose on a called third strike. Though seven innings: UK 5, ISU 0. Rose remains in the game, playing right field.

Kentucky leads Indiana State 5-0 in 7th

Indiana State’s Joe Meggs is stranded after knocking a two-out single up the middle. Going to the bottom of the seventh: UK 5, ISU 0.

Pitching change for the Sycamores: RH Brandon Smith. Starter Eric Valdez worked six innings, giving up five runs, three earned, on six hits and five walks. He struck out four.

Kentucky leads Indiana State 5-0 through 6th

Kentucky gets a sixth-inning single by Andy Burns, but nothing else. Heading to the seventh: UK 5, ISU 0.

Kentucky’s Rusin working on a gem

ISU snaps LHP Chris Rusin’s string of retired batters at nine, getting a two-out single through the right side of the infield by Nick Ciolli. However, that’s all the Sycamores get as Rusin strikes out the side. Through the top of the sixth, Rusin has a five-hit shutout going. All five hits are singles. He has not given a walk and has struck out seven.

Indiana State makes a couple of defensive changes in the bottom of the sixth. Ben Ferrell comes in at second, Brian Jett at first.

Wildcats up lead to 5-0 through five innings
Neiko Johnson

Neiko Johnson

UK adds a run in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead. Keenan Wiley and Marcus Nidiffer opened the inning with back-to-back singles. The runners moved to second and third on Chad Wright’s sacrifice bunt. Wiley scored on Neiko Johnson’s sacrifice fly to short center. ISU 1B Tyler Graham took the cutoff throw on the mound, then threw wildly past catcher Bronco Lafrenz, which allowed Nidiffer to move to third. Cory Farris struck out to end the inning.

Rusin locks down ISU again

In the top of the fifth, LHP Chris Rusin retires Indiana State 1-2-3 for a second consecutive inning. Overall, he has retired seven in a row.

UK pads lead to 4-0

UK’s Andy Burns, who tripled in two runs in the second, added an RBI in the fourth. Neiko Johnson and Cory Farris started the inning with back-to-back walks. Chris Wade’s bunt down the first-base line went for a hit, loading the bases. A sacrifice fly to center, by Burns, scored Johnson and moved Farris to third. Farris scored when Chris Bisson legged out a fielder’s choice, avoiding a double play. Through four innings: UK 4, ISU 0.

1-2-3 in top of the fourth

UK LHP Chris Rusin retires Indiana State 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth.

Cats waste leadoff double

Bottom of the third, UK’s Braden Kapteyn leads off with a double to the gap in left-center. But ISU RH Eric Valdez retires the next three in order, including two strikeouts. Through three innings: UK 2, ISU 0.

Nothing doing for ISU in third

In the top of the third, Indiana State’s gets back-to-back two-out singles by Ryan Strausborger and Koby Kraemer. But UK lefty Chris Rusin punches out Nick Ciolli to end the inning. UK 2, ISU 0.

Kentucky takes 2-0 lead in second inning
Andy Burns

Andy Burns

Andy Burns delivered a two-out, two-run triple to the gap in right-center, giving Kentucky a 2-0 lead in the second. Leadoff batter Chad Wright reached on a fielding error by 2B Koby Kraemer. One out later, Cory Farris walked. A strikeout later, Burns tripled. Sycamores CF Ryan Strausborger made a valiant attempt at a catch, but his all-out dive earned just a soft glance off his glove. Burns was stranded when Chris Bisson flied to left.

No score through 1 1/2 innings

Indiana State got a two-out single from Nick Ciolli in the first and a leadoff single by Luke Fieser in the second. Fieser was erased when Tyler Graham popped up to third baseman Andy Burns on a bunt attempt, with Fieser doubled up easily at first base.

UK had a pair of first-inning walks, but Braden Kapteyn was picked off second base to end the inning.


Indiana State (9-3) – Ryan Strausborger, cf; Koby Kraemer, 2b; Nick Ciolli, rf; Brady Shoemaker, lf; Luke Fieser, 3b; Tyler Graham, 1b; Joe Meggs, dh; Pascual del Real, ss; Bronco Lafrenz, c. Pitching: RH Eric Valdez (1-0, 2.19).

Kentucky (7-2) – Chris Bisson, 2b; Braden Kapteyn, 1b; Keenan Wiley, cf; Marcus Nidiffer, c; Chad Wright, lf; Neiko Johnson, dh; Cory Farris, rf; Chris Wade, ss; Andy Burns, 3b. Pitching: LH Chris Rusin (1-1, 6.75).

Umpires – John Bennett, home; Don Hudson, 1b; Nathan Huber, 3b.

Weather – (unofficial) 69 degrees, wind 12 mph, in from rf, with gusts up to 23 mph.

Today my wide world of sports includes track & field, a Hall of Fame, UK baseball and Olympic sports

March 5, 2009

Spanning the commonwealth and beyond …

The Mason-Dixon Athletic Club will host its 49th annual Mason-Dixon Games, Friday and Saturday, in Broadbent Arena at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

Approximately 3,000 Kentucky middle school and high school athletes will compete, plus about 70 Masters and Open athletes.

Friday’s schedule begins at 4:30 p.m. with Masters and Open events. Middle school events begin at 5:15 p.m.

Saturday’s high school schedule begins at 8 a.m. for Class A, 1 p.m. for 2A and 5 p.m. for 3A. The meet is designated by the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as the indoor state championships.

Admission is $5 each day. Officials will again be collected canned goods and non-perishable items, to be donated to the Dare to Care Food Bank.

In conjunction with the Games, the Mason-Dixon Games Hall of Fame induction banquet will be tonight (Thursday) at Wildwood Country Club in Fern Creek.

Inductees include athletes Bobby Brown (long jump), Susie Brutscher (pole vault pioneer), 1976 Olympian Tommy Haynes (triple jump, long jump) and 1968 Olympic gold-medalist (200 meters) Tommie Smith (440 yards), along with officials Ron Althoff, David L. Armstrong, Donnie Ray and Jack Thompson, plus “significant supporter” of the Games David A. Jones.


Al Michaels returns to Olympic broadcasting

Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, announced Thursday that Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Al Michaels will serve as host of NBC’s live weekend and weekday daytime coverage of next year’s Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Michaels last broadcast a Winter Olympics in 1988, also in Canada — Calgary, Alberta.

In 1980, Michaels made the call on what, according to a variety of polls, Americans consider the nation’s top sports moment of the 20th century, The Miracle on Ice hockey victory over the Soviet Union.

“Do you believe in miracles? YES!” was his most memorable line as the game neared the finish at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

Michaels will host more than 50 hours of live coverage. Although this will mark Michaels’ debut as an Olympic host, he is no stranger to the Games. Vancouver will mark his sixth Olympic assignment.

He covered hockey, biathlon, speed skating, ski jumping and cross-country skiing at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics; hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid Games; figure skating and hockey at the 1984 Sarajevo Games; track and field, plus road cycling, at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games and hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Michaels is the only broadcaster to call a Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host a Stanley Cup Final for network television.


12 semifinalists for Sullivan Award are named

The 12 semifinalists for the 79th annual James E. Sullivan Award include three gymnasts and three swimmers.

Nastia Liukin

Nastia Liukin

The Sullivan Award, named in honor of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) founder and past president, is presented annually to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. In addition to athletic accomplishsments, the Sullivan Award considers the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism.

Gymnasts on the semifinals list are Beijing Olympics all-around champion Nastia Liukin, Olympic balance beam gold-medalist Shawn Johnson and Olympic silver-medalist on the horizontal bar, Jonathan Horton.

Swimming semifinalists are the Olympic men’s 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay champions, Paralympian champion Erin Popovich (four gold medals, two silver) and 41-year-old Olympian Dara Torres (three silver medals).

Also on the list are: Cynthia Barboza, Stanford University, volleyball; Amanda Blumenherst, Duke University, golf; Sam Bradford, University of Oklahoma, football; Tyler Hansbrough, University of North Carolina, basketball; the Lopez family (Olympic medalists Diana, Mark and Steven), taekwondo, and Gerald “Buster” Posey, Florida State University, baseball.

Fan can vote online at The winner will be announced April 15 at the New York Athletic Club.


Trammel is USATF Athlete of Week

Two-time Olympic and World Outdoor silver-medalist Terrence Trammell, winner of the men’s 60-meter hurdles and the Visa Championship Series at last weekend’s USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, is USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week.

Trammell led all the way at Boston, clocking 7.37 seconds to break Reggie Torian’s 10-year-old meet record of 7.38. Trammell just missed the American record (7.36) but did get the fastest time in the world this season.

Among others, Trammell beat Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez for weekly honors. Running in the Big 12 Indoor Championships at College Station, Texas, Fernandez won the mile in a collegiate-record 3:55.02. Three hours later, Fernandez won the 3,000 meters in the second-best time in meet history, 7:57.21.


60 – 6.51 Jacoby Ford (Clemson) – Blacksburg, Va., 2/28 & Mark Jelks (Nike) – Boston, 3/1     U.S. leaders
200 – 20.66 Trey Harts (Baylor) – College Station, Texas, 2/27
400 – 46.08 Gil Roberts (Texas Tech) – College Station, 2/28    
U.S. leader
800 – 1:48.18 Michael Rutt (Connecticut) – Boston, 2/27
Mile – 3:55.02 German Fernandez (Oklahoma State) – College Station, 2/28 Collegiate Record
3000 – 7:53.67 David Torrence (unat) – Boston, 2/28
5000 – 13:57.49 Jake Schmitt (Washington) – Seattle, 2/27
60H – 7.37 Terrence Trammell (TAS) – Boston, 3/1     World leader
HJ – 2.32/7-7.25 Andra Manson (Nike) – Boston, 2/28
PV – 5.60/18-4.5 Jeremy Scott (unat) – Boston, 2/28
LJ – 7.90/25-11 Mikese Morse (Miami) – Blacksburg, 2/27
TJ – 16.94/55-7 Brandon Roulhac (Shore AC) – Boston, 2/28    
U.S. leader
SP – 20.67/67-9.75 Dan Taylor (Nike) – Boston, 3/1
WT – 23.73/77-10.25 Jake Freeman (unat) – Boston, 3/1
Hept – 5747 Nick Adcock (Missouri) – College Station, 2/28
60 – 7.15 Angela Williams (Nike) – Athens, GRE 2/25 & Lisa Barber (adidas) – Boston 3/1
200 – 22.94 Porscha Lucas (Texas A&M) – College Station, 2/28
400 – 52.34 Dominique Darden (Reebok) – Boston, 3/1
800 – 2:02.39 Phoebe Wright (Tennessee) – Lexington, 3/1    
U.S. leader
1500 – 4:17.37 Anna Willard (Nike) – Boston, 3/1
Mile – 4:25.91 Jenny Barringer (Colorado) – College Station, 2/28 Collegiate Record
3000 – 8:53.27 Amy Begley (Nike) – Boston, 2/28
5000 – 15:55.63 Gwen Jorgensen (Wisconsin) – Bloomington, Ind., 3/1
60H – 7.84 Lolo Jones (Asics) – Boston, 3/1
HJ – 1.93/6-4 Destinee Hooker (Texas) – College Station, 2/28 =U.S. leader
PV – 4.83/15-10 Jenn Stuczynski (adidas) – Boston, 3/1     AMERICAN RECORD
LJ – 6.71/22-0.25 Brittney Reese (Nike) – Boston, 3/1    
U.S. leader
TJ – 13.77/45-2.25 Shakeema Welsch (unat) – Boston, 2/28    
U.S. leader
SP – 18.59/61-0 Jillian Camarena (NYAC) – Boston, 2/28   
U.S. leader
WT – 24.43/ Amber Campbell (Mjolnir) – Boston, 3/1    
U.S. leader
Pent – 4216 Bettie Wade (Michigan) – Bloomington, 2/28

UK baseball opens 3-game set vs. Indiana State

Fresh off Wednesday’s two-out, two-run game-winning ninth-inning homer against Eastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Wildcats will open a three-game series Friday, 4 p.m., against visiting Indiana State.
Wednesday’s 9-8 outcome, courtesy of Chris Bisson’s walk-off homer, was UK’s 24th consecutive home non-conference win.

James Paxton

James Paxton

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

The Cats (6-2) and Sycamores (9-2) will meet Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.


UK will go with junior left-hander James Paxton (2-0) in the opener and senior lefty Chris Rusin (1-1) on Saturday. Paxton has 17 strikeouts and only one walk over 11 2/3 innings. Rusin leads the Southeastern Conference with 20 strikeouts, including a career-high 12 in a win over Western Michigan. Sunday’s starter is to be announced.

Cats add two games to schedule

Having lost a game because of inclement weather last weekend, UK has added a pair of games to its schedule.
The Cats will play host to Georgetown College, Tuesday at 4 p.m., and Wright State, April 1 at 6 p.m.

Pre-game clinic Saturday

UK’s third annual (free) coaching clinic will take place before Saturday’s game at Clilff Hagan Stadium, 8-10 a.m.
The clinic will feature drills pertaining to pitching, fielding, hitting, base-running and catching. All coaches in attendance will receive free admission for themselves and a friend to the UK-Indiana State game.

Briefly: James Johnson, Bobby Curtis


James Johnson, right, with Helena Hau and myself in Beijing.

James Johnson, right, with Helena Hau and myself in Beijing.

James Johnson,

a three-time national champion Greco-Roman wrestler out of the University of Kentucky, has been on tour since Feb. 23 as coach of U.S. Greco-Roman athletes competing in the Hungary Grand Prix and in Slovakia. The tour ends Sunday.

* Former state high school champion Bobby Curtis (St. Xavier, Villanova) placed third at last month’s U.S. Cross Country Championships. That earns him a spot on the Team USA squad that will run in the World Championships at Amman, Jordan, on March 28. Meb Keflezighi won the U.S. title, followed by Tim Nelson, Curtis and 2008 Olympic 10,000-meter runner Jorge Torres.
* Former UK standout Allison Grace helped Team USA place seventh at the recent Yokohama International Women’s Ekiden. The 14-team relay event was won by Japan in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Grace, who trains out of Blowing Rock, N.C., as part of the Zap Fitness club, anchored with a 5.195-kilometer leg in 17:47. Carrie Messner Vickers led off for Team USA, followed by Desiree Davila, Samia Akbar, Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, Melissa White and Grace. names Chris Rusin pre-season all-SEC, picks Wildcats to finish fourth in Eastern Division

January 21, 2009

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin


Left-hander Chris Rusin of Kentucky has been named pre-season all-Southeastern Conference by also picked the Wildcats to finish fourth in the SEC East.

Rusin became the Wildcats first pitcher in 11 years to earn first-team all-SEC honors last season, following Scott Downs in 1997. Rusin made nine “quality starts” in 13 chances, finishing with a 6-3 record, 3.33 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 83 2/3 innings.

His numbers were skewed when he tried to pitch through an injury in the NCAA Tournament — a career-worst outing against Michigan that last  1 1/3 innings. Leaving that game out of the equation, Rusin was 6-2 with a 2.84 ERA.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder had a 2.63 ERA over five road starts, including two complete games.

“We feel like Chris was the best starting pitcher in the SEC last year, earning first-team all-league honors,” Coach Gary Henderson said in a UK press release. “He is an absolute vital part to this year’s success, and his leadership and veteran presence will be critical for our club.”

Kentucky opens play Feb. 20 against Troy in the Caravelle Resort Tournament at Conway, S.C.

The pre-season all-SEC team – C: Bryce Massanari, Georgia; 1B: Rich Poythress, Georgia; 2B: Ryan Schimpf, LSU; SS: Josh Rutledge, Alabama; 3B: Josh Adams, Florida; OF: Kentrail Davis, Tennessee; Blake Dean, LSU; and Chase Leavitt, Arkansas; SP: Chris Rusin, Kentucky; Mike Minor, Vanderbilt; and Trevor Holder, Georgia; RP: Scott Bittle, Ole Miss.

The SEC divisional predictions:

East – 1. Georgia; 2. Florida; 3. Vanderbilt; 4. Kentucky; 5. South Carolina; 6. Tennessee.

West – 1. LSU; 2. Ole Miss; 3. Alabama; 4. Arkansas; 5. Auburn; 6. Mississippi State.

Baseball Writers put Cats 23rd in pre-season poll

January 14, 2009

Just wondering if Brent Ingram, Kentucky’s crafty knuckler of media relations, might have sacrificed a bucket of chicken in the name of Jobu.

Ingram’s Wildcats (some might say Coach Gary Henderson’s Wildcats) have picked up another top 25 mention in the pre-season baseball polls.

Already tabbed No. 19 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Cats came in at No. 23 Wednesday in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. UK has been ranked three consecutive seasons in pre-season polls.

Intrastate rival Louisville is ranked No. 11. North Carolina is No. 1. At No. 2 is LSU, the first of five Southeastern Conference teams in the Top 25. (Six other SEC teams received votes.)

UK is coming off a school-record 44-win season that ended in the championship game of NCAA Regional play at Ann Arbor, Mich. The Cats have won a school-record 122 games over the last three seasons.

This will mark the first season with Henderson, the former pitching coach, in charge. Predecessor John Cohen left UK for his alma mater, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are the only SEC team not receiving votes in the pre-season poll.

Henderson must fill voids left by all-American outfielders Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill, second baseman Ryan Wilkes and pitchers Andrew Albers, Brock Baber, Greg Dombrowski, Scott Green and Aaron Lovett.

The Cats return two of their weekend starters in Chris Rusin and James Paxton. Shortstop Chris Wade, a freshman all-American, returns, as do third baseman Chris “Sparky” McClendon and center fielder Keenan Wiley.

Add to that UK’s highest-rated recruiting class ever, tabbed No. 4 in the nation. Included in that group are middle-infielder Andy Burns, high school all-Americans Braden Kapteyn (RHP/IF) and Cory Farris (OF/C), and 6-foot-8 right-hander Alex Meyer.

The Wildcats open the season Feb. 20-22, facing Troy, then James Madison and Coastal Carolina in the Carvelle Resort Tournament at Conway, S.C. UK’s home opener is scheduled Feb. 27, the first in a four-game series against Western Michigan.

NCBWA Top-35 Pre-season Poll


    School (conference)    2008 record

1.  North Carolina (Atlantic Coast)    54-14

2.  LSU (Southeastern)              49-19-1

3.  Rice (Conference USA)              47-15

4.  Texas A&M (Big 12)                  46-19 

5.  Georgia (Southeastern)        45-25-1

6.  Florida State (Atlantic Coast )      54-14 

7.  Arizona State (Pacific-10)           49-13 

8.  Texas (Big 12)                          39-22

9.  Stanford (Pacific-10)                  41-24-2

10.  Cal State Fullerton (Big West)    41-22 

11.  Louisville (Big East)            41-21 

12.  Miami (Atlantic Coast)              53-11 

13.  Georgia Tech (Atlantic Coast)    41-21

14.  Mississippi (Southeastern)  39-26 

15.  UC Irvine (Big West)                42-18 

16.  Oklahoma State (Big 12)           44-18

17.  Fresno State (Western Athletic)  47-31 

18.  San Diego (West Coast)            44-17

19.  Baylor (Big 12)                        32-26  

20.  Missouri (Big 12)                     39-21

21.  Pepperdine (West Coast)          38-21  

22.  Coastal Carolina (Big South) 50-14

23.  Kentucky  (Southeastern)  44-19 

24.  Florida (Southeastern)       34-24  

25.  UCLA (Pacific-10)                    33-27   

26.  Clemson (Atlantic Coast)          31-27-1  

27.  East Carolina (Conference USA) 42-21

28.  Oklahoma (Big 12)                   36-26 

29.  Arizona (Pacific-10)                  42-19     

30.  Michigan (Big Ten)                   46-14

31.  Oregon State (Pacific-10)          28-24

32.  Texas Christian (Mountn. West) 44-19

33.  Southern Cal (Pacific-10)          28-28 

34.  Tulane (Conference USA)         39-22-1   

35.  Wichita State (Missouri Valley)   48-17 

 Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically): Alabama (35-28), Arkansas (34-24), Auburn (28-28), Bethune-Cookman (36-22), California (33-21-2), Charlotte (43-16), College of Charleston (39-20), Dallas Baptist (37-19), Elon (44-18), Houston (42-24), Lamar (35-23), Long Beach State (38-21), Missouri State (40-17), N.C. State (42-22), Nebraska (41-16), New Orleans (43-21), Notre Dame (33-21-1), Ohio State (30-26), Oral Roberts (48-14), Oregon (0-0), Sam Houston State (37-25), San Diego State (31-28), Santa Clara (33-22), South Carolina (40-23), Southern Miss (42-22), St. John’s (42-16), Tennessee (27-29), UC Davis (35-24), UC Santa Barbara (35-21), UNC Wilmington (44-17), UTSA (39-19), Vanderbilt (41-22), Virginia (39-23).

* 2009 UK opponents in bold

Cats are No. 19 in Collegiate Baseball poll

December 22, 2008
Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

James Paxton

James Paxton

More good news for first-year head coach Gary Henderson and his Kentucky Wildcats.

For a third straight season, UK is in the national pre-season baseball rankings. Earlier, Baseball America rated UK’s incoming class of recruits No. 4 in the nation, and seven highly regarded prospects committed for the 2010 season.

A tip of the hat to Brent Ingram, UK baseball’s media contact, for providing the information.

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Top 40 has the Cats at No. 19. All 12 Southeastern Conference schools either received votes or made the list  — the only conference to do so.

With Henderson serving as pitching coach under John Cohen (who returned to his alma mater, Mississippi State, after last season), UK has won a school-record 122 games over the last three seasons. UK was ranked No. 20 last year and No. 27 in 2007 by Collegiate Baseball in its pre-season poll, and No. 25 in last year’s National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.

The Cats led the SEC in earned run average last season. They appear to be well-armed once again.

Senior left-hander Chris Rusin is a first-team all-SEC pick and is on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year watch list. He led SEC starters in ERA throughout the season, finishing with a 6-3 record and 3.33 ERA over 13 starts. Included were two complete games.

Also back is Saturday starter James Paxton, also a lefty, who is coming off a 4-2, 2.92 season.

Freshman All-America shortstop Chris Wade returns to lead a defense that led the SEC with a .979 fielding percentage last season. Wade also led the SEC with 24 doubles, while batting .296 with five homers and 51 RBI.

Other returnees include third baseman Chris McClendon (.346, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB) and center fielder Keenan Wiley (.327, 2 HR, 38 RBI).

The Cats open the 2009 season Feb. 20, taking on Troy in the Coastal Carolina pre-season tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C.  UK has won 67 of its last 73 non-conference games in the regular season, including 20 in a row at home. The team’s 122 wins over the last three seasons ranks fourth among SEC schools, a list topped by Vanderbilt with 133.

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper pre-season poll

UK opponents in bold.

Rank    School (’08 Final Record)        Points

1.         LSU (49-19-1)                          495

2.         North Carolina (54-14)           494

3.         Rice (47-15)                            489

4.         Georgia (45-25-1)                   486

5.         Stanford (41-24-2)                  484

6.         Arizona State (49-13)                  482

7.         Florida State (54-14)                   479

8.         Louisville (41-21)                    476

9.         Texas A&M (46-19)                 473

10.       Texas (39-22)                          470

11.       Mississippi (39-25)                 467

12.       Georgia Tech (41-21)             465

13.       Cal State Fullerton (41-22)         462

14.       Oklahoma State (44-18)              459

15.       Baylor (32-26)                         457

16.       Fresno State (47-31)                    456

17.       San Diego (44-17)                   453

18.       Miami, Fla. (53-11)                 451

19.       Kentucky (44-19)                   448

20.       Cal Irvine (42-18)                  445

21.       UCLA (33-27)                           443

22.       Missouri (39-21)                     440

23.       Pepperdine (38-21)                 439

24.       Southern California (28-28)    436

25.       Florida (34-24)                        435

26.       Clemson (31-27-1)                  432

27.       Notre Dame (33-21-1)            430

28.       Coastal Carolina (50-14)        428

29.       Michigan (46-14)                    425

30.       Cal Santa Barbara (35-21)    423

31.       East Carolina (42-21)              422

32.       Missouri State (40-17)                420

33.       Southern Mississippi (42-22)  417

34.       Tulane (39-22-1)                     415

35.       Arizona (42-19)                       414

36.       Wichita State (48-17)                  410

37.       Texas Christian (44-19)           409

38.       Oregon State (28-24)                  406

39.       California (33-21-2)                402

40.       Alabama (35-28)                    398


OTHER TEAMS RECEIVING VOTES: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn, Long Beach St., Oregon, Virginia, North Carolina St., Houston, Kent St., Santa Clara, U.C. Riverside, Oral Roberts, Nebraska, Kennesaw St., Ohio St., Oklahoma, San Diego St., Tennessee, Mississippi St., New Mexico, Jacksonville St., Elon, Western Kentucky, Dallas Baptist, N.C. Charlotte, South Florida, St. John’s, Winthrop, Purdue, James Madison, Marshall, Central Florida, Washington, Washington St., Georgia Southern, Northwestern St., Lamar, Texas-San Antonio, Southern, Louisiana-Monroe, New Orleans, Hawaii, San Jose St., San Francisco.