That smashing sound you here, that's the sound of the other shoe hurtling back into the ground. While a doom-and-gloom approach isn't the best way to handle a round robin tournament in which one loss isn't an immediate death sentence, UC's loss to Houston yesterday was a swift kick to the teeth. Losing 9-1 to the Cougars, a team that finished with more than 30 wins this season, reinforced just how above the expectations the Bearcats have been playing.
Things got off to a fine start. A.J. Olasz, who was plugged in as the starter over aces Andrew Zellner and J.T. Perez, zoomed through the first two innings, allowing just a single hit. Houston then got across a run in the third and Olasz ended up allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings with just two strikeouts, only one of which came after the first inning. It was during the second half of the game that Houston really pulled away, pounding out seven runs in the last four frames.
An eight-run deficit is nearly impossible to overcome, but in all honesty, once UC went down 1-0 in the third, it appeared like it was fighting a losing battle. The American Athletic Conference's worst hitting squad, the Bearcats managed only seven hits and really failed to get a big hit when they needed it, leaving nine on base. Houston had only a pair of LOBs in comparison. Too many times, UC failed to even get the ball in play, with 14 strikeouts as a team, marking just the second time since April 12 they have been punched out more than 10 times in a game.
Wiping away the negative thoughts, Kyle Mottice kept up his hot streak, going 2-for-5. He was the only Bearcat with a multi-hit game and one of only two players in the whole game to hit safely more than once. The other was Houston's Connor Wong (2-for-4). Mottice has a team-high 16 multi-hit games this season and is hitting .372 since April 13.
As bad as the game was, it isn't the end for UC, which will face off against UCF in an elimination game tonight at 7 p.m. Here's hoping its the first of a few elimination games the Bearcats will play. After all, that's the razor thin line they will have to walk to an AAC championship.