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Olasz Shines, Bearcats Smother WCU

Lights out pitching coupled with timely hitting allowed Cincinnati to close out the non-conference part of the schedule with a victory.

While you were out celebrating Taquito Tuesday with your roomate Chad, the Cincinnati Bearcats were spending their Tuesday night hosting the Western Carolina Catamounts of the Southern Conference. By now, you probably found a way to see who won (UC 3-1, for those who did not). The win was a big one for the baseball program at Cincinnati, which has been marred by underachievement (to put it lightly) in recent years.

The 3-1 victory over the Catamounts improved the Bearcats' home record to 18-7 this season. That is the best home record UC has ever had and shows that Marge Schott Stadium doesn't take kindly to strangers. Its just too bad this weekend's series against Memphis is outside of the Schott.

Speaking of that series, A.J. Olasz, Tuesday's starter, did his part to ensure Cincinnati will be at full strength this weekend. In arguably his best start of the season, the sophomore lefty tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out four. Doug Lowe II (2 2/3 innings, zero earned runs) and Jarod Yoakam (one inning, one run) combined forces to finish off the triumph, with Yoakam picking up his third save in the process. It was good to see Lowe back out there as he had been sidelined since early March with an injury.

Adding Lowe back into the mix and getting a longer start than usual out of Olasz will make Ty Neal's job easier this weekend. Starters Andrew Zellner and J.T. Perez, who will likely get the ball in games one and two, are both capable of eating up innings. They have combined for seven complete games, including two in the last week. The real benefit of Olasz's effort will come in the season finale, when, assuming Zellner and Perez hold up, the bullpen will be packed with fresh arms.

Once again, Cincinnati did not do much in terms of offense, with seven hits as a team against WCU. Vince Augustine went 1-for-3 with an RBI double (the only extra base hit in the game by either team) and Kyle Mottice (2-for-3) was the only member of either squad to have a multi-hit game. Mottice has been on a tear of late, even after his hitting and on-base streaks were halted on Sunday. Since April 13, the sophomore is batting .355, boosting his average to .264, which is second on the team behind Connor McVey (.292).

Speaking of Mottice and McVey, the duo continued Cincinnati's daring feats on the basepaths, collecting their 11th and 26th steals of the season, respectively.

Now the Bearcats must wait for 7:30 on Thursday evening for their chance to start putting an exclamation mark on the regular season.