Bertram to the Rescue

With the University of Kentucky heading to Tennessee this weekend for the season's first SEC road series of the year, several Wildcats will be experiencing their first taste of an SEC road venue.

It's moments like this, there is no substitute for senior leadership.

As if on cue, the ever reliable Michael Bertram, will be once again sent in to do the dirty work.

"It's always tough going on the road in the SEC," UK's starting third baseman said on his way to Knoxville, "but we're ready and were confident coming in."

As not only a senior, but a four-year starter for the Wildcats, the Lexington (Ky.) native will be counted on to take care of newcomers such as Ryan Strieby and Sean Coughlin, two players that have been instrumental in UK's record setting start.

"I think they'll be just fine," Bertram said. "That's why Thursday night practices are so key on the road because you can get a feel for the playing field and you can get down the different angles."

"Guys like Strieby and Coughlin, they are both such mentally tough guys, I don't think they'll need any help. The key to playing on the road is to be set mentally - whether it's a bad day or a good day, you can't get too excited or too down."

Friday will be particularly tough for the Wildcats, as they face off against one of the nation's top left handers in Tennessee's James Adkins (4-2, 2.41).

"He's got a good arm, but I try not to get too caught up in all the hype of a pitcher," Bertram explained. "I try to take the same approach with every pitcher we face and stay consistent, no matter how good they are."

Kentucky has matched the best start in the 102-game history of Wildcat baseball at 18-4. They've won nine of its last 10 games and are currently ranked just outside the top 25 at No. 26 in this week's latest rankings release.

Ahead is a Tennessee team ranked 12th nationally, however.

"I know it will be a big challenge," Bertram added, "but I know our guys will be up for it."

Bertram moved from first to third base this season and has not missed a beat defensively, while also continuing his solid performances at the plate. This year, the senior is hitting for a .351 average with 2 home runs and 14 RBI's.

Bertram has struck out just once in his last 44 at bats.

"I have been here all four years," Bertram stated, "and there have definitely been some high points and some low points, but right now this is the best feeling in the world. Just to be able to be producing on this team and getting some wins, while also finally seeing this program get some national recognition."

A former star infielder out of Lafayette HS, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound left handed hitter has been instrumental in turning UK's baseball program around. In just four years, he's seen the highs and the lows, while playing out his dream of starring for the hometown Wildcats.

"Being a senior, it's definitely been a long road," Bertram added, "but with the coaching staff bringing in guys like Ryan Strieby and Sean Coughlin, we just kept getting better each year and with the guys coming in next year, I have no doubt this program is going to continue to progress further as long as this coaching staff is here."

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