Taking a break from American Athletic Conference play, the Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team traveled south to take on the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals Tuesday night for a midweek non-conference matchup.
The Bearcats knew they had their backs against the wall facing the Cardinals, a team that is expected to challenge for a spot in Omaha next month. Louisville proved just that Tuesday by easily dispatching the AAC-leading Bearcats by a score of 7-1.
Cincinnati fell behind early, with Bearcat starter A.J. Olasz fighting control issues in the bottom of the first inning . Olasz set down the first two Cardinals he faced, but an error and two walks loaded the bases, putting the pressure on the southpaw. The next at-bat saw Louisville third baseman, Blake Tiberi, lace a single up the middle that plated two runs, leaving the Bearcats in an early hole.
Looking to answer, the Bearcats used a little two-out magic of their own in the top of the second to get on the board against undefeated Cardinal starter, Kade McClure. Cincinnati put two men on first and second, then executed a perfect hit-and-run off the bat of freshman Vince Augustine. Augustine's knock scored fellow classmate A.J. Bumpass from second to make it a one run game.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, that run was the only one they were getting Tuesday night.
Louisville tacked on single runs in three straight innings to make it 5-1 Cardinals, while knocking Olasz out of the game after just two innings. With the Bearcats reeling, the Cardinals put the finishing touches on their win by scoring a run in the sixth and the seventh innings.
Olasz finished with five walks and no strikeouts which helped end his day early, while being saddled with his fifth loss of the season. No Bearcat finished with more than one hit in the game, but Treg Haberkorn and Kyle Mottice pushed their on-base streaks to 19 and 12, respectively.
Tuesday night was a rough one for the Bearcats, but an optimist might call it a building block onto the stretch run in the AAC conference race.
The Bearcats will look to maintain their hold on first place in the AAC this weekend as they will take on the UCF Golden Knights in Orlando for a three-game series.