As the headline yesterday read Kentucky defeats No. 1 ranked Virginia, today’s headline reads a little differently.
A rising narrative surrounding the University of Kentucky baseball season this year will be the emergence of freshman second baseman Connor Heady. The refined talent that the Prospect native brings to the Wildcats will serve this season as a reminder that the basketball team in Lexington isn’t the only one that yields diaper dandies.
Heady, a 6-0 170-pound utility infielder from North Oldham High School, recorded a game of firsts; his first game in a UK uniform, his first win against a top ranked team and his first statistics logged as a Cat.
As UK handily defeated Virginia 8-3 yesterday in their season opener, Heady began his tenure as the starting second baseman under six-year head coach Gary Henderson.
Batting ninth in the lineup, Heady struck out swinging during his first at bat in the third inning. Kentucky was able to take advantage of a shaky pitching performance by Virginia’s Branden Waddell as they batted through the order, sending Heady to the plate once again in the fourth inning.
Digging in with teammate JaVon Shelby on first base, Heady roped a double to left field that would send Shelby around the bases to extend the UK lead to 4-1. For the former USA Baseball U-18 National Teamer, it was his first hit and RBI as a Wildcat.
Reaching first base in the sixth inning due to a walk, Heady’s first stolen base would come a few pitches later when he turned his secondary lead into a 60-yard dash. As a well-known draft prospect, many scouts are quick to commend Heady on his base path quickness: he runs a 6.5.
His final plate appearance came in the eighth inning as he laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Shelby to second base. A strategic move that would later set up the Shelby run scored, Heady was done for the day having batted 1-2 with an RBI and stolen base.
The former No. 3 prospect in the state and five-year varsity letterman, Heady was named preseason as the 12th best freshman in SEC and 38th best freshman in NCAA by Baseball America.
Look for the freshman slugger to make a splash this year and become one of the premiere players that Kentucky fields in seasons to follow.
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18, on Instagram @bennythekid01, and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
CHARLESTON, SC. — It’s hard to believe with snow on the ground and ice covering the trees that it’s already time for college baseball, but for the Louisville Cardinals, a walk-off Valentine’s Day victory was a sweet start to their 2014 campaign.
Friday, February 14th, the defending College World Series participants rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat the West Virginia Mountaineers in 10 innings, 7-6.
The Mountaineers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Taylor Munden was driven in by a single from teammate Jacob Rice.
Louisville went quietly in the bottom of the first inning, a trend that would emerge throughout the rest of the game; The Cards sent three batters up and sat three down in four innings. They managed to light the scoreboard in the second inning when first baseman Danny Rosenbaum slugged a solo shot over the left field wall. A sophomore, Rosenbaum batted .258 and added one homer last season playing in 39 games.
Runs scored in the second, third and fourth innings extended the West Virginia lead to 5-1, but the Cardinals’ comeback was sparked in the bottom of the fifth inning when senior catcher Kyle Gibson drove in second baseman Zach Lucas to pull the lead within three runs.
As the Cards stepped to the plate in the sixth inning, a Cole Sturgeon single was capitalized when designated hitter Grant Kay blasted a screamer to left center field, narrowing the lead to 5-4.
West Virginia added another run in the seventh, but both teams would struggle to find offensive fortitude until U of L knocked two runs in during the bottom of the eighth inning.
After a Sutton Whiting strikeout, Sturgeon singled to left field and stole second before rounding third and scoring as Jeff Gardner doubled deep down the right field line. Rosenbaum added an RBI after he rocked a double down the same right field line, scoring Gardner and tying the game at six.
Into extras the game went as neither team could touch home plate during the ninth inning. Coach Dan McDonnell sent 2013 First Team All-Big East pitcher Nick Burdi to the mound to handle the heart of the Mountaineers’ lineup. Able to fend off a walk and fielding error by Whiting, Burdi was successful in holding the ‘Eers to scoreless inning.
In the bottom of the 10th, Gardner provided the kill shot that sealed the game when he detonated a walk-off bomb that sailed over the right field wall and highlighted the 7-6 win.
Off to a 1-0 start to the year, the Cardinals resume play on February 15th when they take on The Citadel at 2:30 pm.
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.