UK Baseball

Rusin pitches Cats to sixth straight win

A gusty wind blew in from right field and Kentucky's Chris Rusin kept blowing pitches past Indiana State batters Saturday.

The left-hander worked eight innings as the Cats won their second straight over the Sycamores, 5-0. UK goes for a three-game sweep Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

UK (8-2) has won six games in a row overall, a school-record 26 in a row versus visiting non-conference foes. Rusin seems fully recovered from a 2008 late-season sore arm and ready for the start of Southeastern Conference play next weekend at LSU.

"It's good to get out there and get a good win and go into SEC confident," said Rusin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior. "We got some key hits and kept them scoreless, so it was pretty good all the way around."

"He did a great job for us," Coach Gary Henderson said of Rusin. "He's obviously back in shape. Healthy, strong and kind of set the tone for next weekend, let's hope."

Freshman third baseman Andy Burns had three of UK's eight hits, drove in three runs and was flawless in the field.

Marcus Nidiffer added two hits. Cory Farris drew a pair of walks and scored twice.

Rusin (2-1) gave up six hits, walked only one and struck out nine. He threw 110 pitches, 73 for strikes. Especially effective with an inside fastball, Rusin dropped his ERA from 6.75 to 3.63.

"The wind was affecting my pitches a little bit, moving it a little more," Rusin said. Winds were 26 to 33 mph, according to the official box score. "So I had to take a couple innings to figure that out. And once I did, and I figured it out, it was good."

Burns, a 6-2, 185-pounder from Fort Collins, Colo., finished 3-for-3 and drove in UK's first three runs. His second-inning triple to the right-center gap scored two runs, and his fourth-inning sacrifice fly off of starter Eric Valdez (1-1) scored another.

"I was seeing the ball well today," said Burns, who lived in Lexington for four years before moving to Colorado when he was 8. "It was good to go out and get some hits."

Another run scored in the fourth when Chris Bisson beat out a potential inning-ending double-play relay. Neiko Johnson's fifth-inning sacrifice fly drove in the final run.

"I felt like our kids did a really good job of executing on offense, putting pressure on the defense, taking advantage of some movement in the infield," Henderson said. "Whether it was beating a throw on a double-play attempt or bouncing the ball over a third baseman who was in, push bunts — all those things are just part of the offense. Sac fly at the right time, on an off-speed pitch up in the strike zone to get that done. I was really pleased with the at-bats. A quality effort from the kids."

Indiana State (9-4) had only one runner reach second base, in an eighth inning that saw Rusin's lone walk plus a pair of errors. Rusin got Brady Shoemaker on a called third strike to end that threat, and Tyler Henry set the Sycamores down in order in the ninth.

"I think, as a team, we're getting better every game," Burns said. "We're going to be ready to go" in SEC play.