As you may have read yesterday, this weekend's series with Memphis is a big one for the Cincinnati Bearcats baseball squad. Just a few days from now we could be discussing a conference title or lamenting what could have been. After Thursday's results, we have a slightly, and I mean a minuscule fraction of a bit of slightly, better idea of what the Bearcats still have to do and what needs to happen outside of their control for their regular season championship dreams come true. Here's where we stand in each of the four check boxes that need to be ticked.
1) UC has to sweep Memphis
Status: So far, so good, albeit by the skin of Lucy's teeth. Andrew Zellner once again pitched wonderfully, lasting nine innings while allowing two earned runs on nine hits. Unfortunately, nine innings wasn't enough to settle this one. Zellner was guilty of allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth, surrendering a 2-1 lead. But thanks to the continued late season renaissance of Kyle Mottice, who hit with a two-run home run in the top of the 10th, UC escaped with a W. Jarod Yoakam and A.J. Kullman then combined to close things out in the bottom of the frame.
So, to boil it down, Cincinnati won a game because of a home run. The same Cincinnati team that had 30 home runs total entering Thursday. Baseball is a weird and phenomenal sport.
Confidence: 7 out of 10 Bearcats.
2) Houston has to sweep Tulane
Status: Unfortunately there was no meaningful advancement on this front, as Thursday's contest was postponed due to inclement weather. The Cougars will now face the No. 10 Green Wave in a double-header on Friday and finish things off Saturday afternoon. Houston is a solid team itself, currently 32-20 overall and 10-10 in league play. It also just blasted No. 15 Rice into oblivion, pounding out a 24-6 win on Tuesday. However, the Cougars split their previous two meetings with Tulane this season, so UC is hoping for a slight miracle here.
Confidence: 2 out of 10 Bearcats.
3) UCF has to win once against East Carolina
Status: The Knights, who have already been eliminated from AAC title contention, put up a valiant effort in the ninth against the Pirates last night, but it came up short. A two-run home run from Logan Heiser cut the Knights' deficit to 5-3, but no others runs crossed the plate. UCF still has two more shots at ECU, but it has been swept twice in league play this season and has lost four straight.
Confidence: 3.5 out of 10 Bearcats.
4) USF has to win once against UConn
Status: Here's hoping the Bulls have short memories. USF was annihilated at home by the Huskies on Thursday (11-2). However, USF has managed to steal a win or two against some top teams in the conference, including two wins in a three-game stint at East Carolina just last weekend and a similar result against Cincinnati itself.
Confidence: 6 out of 10 Bearcats.