Matchup: Kentucky Wildcats (8-5) at Cincinnati Bearcats (4-6)
Location: Marge Schott Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Series History: Kentucky leads 58-29-3. Also, according to Cincinnati’s media guide, there were six matchups with unknown results. So that’s neat.
Time/Probably Starters: 4 p.m./A.J. Olasz (1-0, 3.00) vs. Zack Thompson (1-1, 4.22)
Meet the Opponent
Kentucky is riding high into this contest, having won six-straight games to improve to 8-5 overall. Not only have the Wildcats been winning, they have been beating the ever living ... well you know ... out of their opponents. On Tuesday, they banged out a 15-1 win over Wright State, powered by a 4-for-5 day from center fielder Marcus Carson and a five RBI effort from left fielder Zack Reks. Carson is crushing it at the top of the lineup (.404/.466/.635) and has also stolen four bases. Reks (.396/.484/.585) is another potent bat among a great deal of them, as UK is hitting .335 as a team, good enough for 15th in the country. Reks also leads the team in stolen bases, with a perfect 7-for-7 success rate. SEC Player of the Week Riley Mahan (.321/.390/.604) and Evan White (.500/.639/1.000) are the big power bats, with the two combining for six home runs.
The Wildcats can also pitch a bit, posting a team ERA of 2.65. The Bearcats won’t see ace Zach Logue (2-1, 2.08) or the versatile Brad Schaenzer (0.00 ERA in 15 2⁄3 innings), but there are still enough arms to keep UC’s bats at bay.
Making the start for the Wildcats will be Zack Thompson, a freshman left-hander from Indiana. The southpaw has been solid enough in his 10 2⁄3 innings of work across two starts. He’s posted an ERA of 4.22 but what is most impressive is his ability to send batters back to the dugout without contact, as he has 15 strikeouts.
A.J. Olasz will make his second start of the season, after pitching three innings of one-run baseball a week ago against Indiana. He was limited innings wise in that one, so you can probably expect to see Ty Neal use his bullpen a bunch, especially if the Wildcats are able to hit like they normally do.
As for the bats that will try to figure out Thompson, Jace Mercer (.280/.379/.360) and his ability to get on base will once again be at the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, Connor McVey (.342/.432/.500) has started to find a groove, while R. J. Thompson (.306/.350/.444) and A.J. Bumpass (.300/.378/.600) have been consistent in the meat of the order from the jump.
Simply put, Kentucky is a good team, especially on offense. Olasz was solid last week against Indiana, but the Wildcats lineup is extremely deep so the Bearcat starter will have no room for error. That will likely be too much pressure, even if UC can get to Thompson.