"Well, we went ahead and got in our order form early this year," Baseball Coach John Cohen joked, Monday. "It looks like are prayers were answered as we really are blessed with some great weather this time of year and in February of all times, as well."
The crowd of nearly 1,000 saw UK take out Evansville on opening day at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday and proceeded to pack the house for the weekend as well, as Kentucky took four of their first five games at home and moved their record to 9-2 on the season.
Key component returns to mound
Andrew Albers came in and threw 25 pitches and looked good according to UKAA media relations department member, Scott Dean. "The defense sort of hurt him behind him in the eight, but other than that, he looked real good."
Albers is considered the real key on the season for the Baseball Wildcats. With Albers back into the starting rotation, UK can move Craig Snipp and Greg Drombrowski back to the bullpen and get their relief pitching more help and the starting pitchers become a stronger unit.
"It really is how he feels tomorrow," Dean said. "We need to see where his arm feels after throwing today and in a game situation."
Sunday's 10-3 victory over Northwestern was arguably the most impressive of the weekend. Northwestern pitcher George Kontos, whom lasted only 4 innings against Kentucky on Sunday, is projected to be a top draft pick in June's Major League amateur baseball draft. According to many prognosticators, Kontos will be picked anywhere from the third to fifth round.
As a team, Northwestern is not one of the top teams in the Big Ten, but certainly is capable of beating an SEC school.
"They have a couple of good pitchers," Dean said. "The pitchers they threw on Saturday and Sunday were both big time pitchers who can both play in the SEC, but offensively, they just aren't really great and weren't hitting the ball very well."
The Big Drombrowski
Greg Drombrowski continues to be fantastic for Kentucky. Only one of his hits that was given up on Sunday were not ground balls. Drombrowski, who is a sinker ball/two seem fastball pitcher, continues to get ground balls.
So far this season, Drombrowski has pitched 21 innings and has yet to walk a batter.
A Grand Slam
Ryan Strieby's grand slam nearly hit Eastern Kentucky. "He crushed it," Dean said, "as soon as it left bat, everyone knew it was gone."
Strieby cleared the large sign in center field that says 'Go Big Blue,' and nearly bested that with a double that hit the top of wall in the ninth.
"It hit the 390 sign," Dean said. "He just missed another home run."
Currently seven guys are hitting better than .330. One of the names that is not hitting above .330 is pre-season All-American candidate John Shelby.
Kentucky continues its home stand with a game Tuesday against Western Kentucky and Wednesday against Marshall. The 'Cats have a weekend set with North Dakota State, for those that aren't heading to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, on Friday through Sunday.
Additional News & Notes from the UKAA
Ryan Strieby set a career high with four hits and four RBIs … Strieby has reached safely in all 11 games this season … With a single in the fifth, Antone DeJesus extended his hitting streak to 17 dating back to last season … Kentucky scored 41 runs in the series, its highest total in a three-game sweep since 1903 … It is the first time UK has scored 10 or more runs in three straight games since 2000 … Greg Dombrowski improved to 3-0 this year and is 5-0 in his career … Dombrowski has not walked a batter this year and in 37 innings dating back to last season … Kentucky's seven-run fifth was its biggest inning of the season … Kentucky has a home run in eight straight games and 10 of 11 this year … Kentucky has swept its last three home non-conference series.