That’s the thing about baseball, you look away for a second and boom your team has already played a handful of games and set the tone for the year. While three games is by no means a large enough sample size to determine the future success (or failure) of a team, the Cincinnati Bearcats’ series loss to Northwestern State this past weekend certainly didn’t give them a leg up to start the campaign. Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
Game One - Cincinnati 3, Northwestern State 2 (10 innings)
Connor McVey started the season opener with a bang, literally, launching a solo home run in the first inning as part of a 3-for-5 night at the plate. Andrew Zellner did his part as well, scattering five hits across 6 1⁄3 innings while giving up a single earned run and striking out six. He did get himself into trouble with some control issues, as he hit three batters, but it was still a solid showing from the UC ace. A.J. Kullman came in to pick up the pieces and pitched himself to a 1-0 record by finishing the final 3 2⁄3 innings of the contest, although he did allow one run.
Northwestern State stayed even with the Bearcats until the first extra inning, when R.J. Thompson scored on a throwing error after singling to lead off the 10th frame. Kullman then closed the game out with a scoreless bottom of the inning to give UC the victory.
Game Two - Northwestern State 3, Cincinnati 2
Fortunes reversed in the Saturday matinee of this series, as it was the Demons who escaped with a 3-2 win, although they did not need extra innings to pull it off. J.T. Perez, who last year posted a sub-3.00 ERA and was thought to be the second part of a two-headed ace monster for the Bearcats, struggled in his first start of the season. He only allowed three hits and struck out four batters in as many innings, but he also walked three batters and dug himself an early hole, allowing a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning.
Jarod Yoakam and Tanner Schimmoeller pitched two scoreless innings of relief apiece to allow the Bearcats ample opportunity to close the gap, but UC went just 5-for-31 as a team with Ryan Noda’s double and Kyle Mottice’s triple the only extra-base hits from the Red and Black
Game Three - Northwestern State 6, Cincinnati 2
The Demons unfurled their ace in the finale of the series and got what they needed to win. Evan Tidwell only lasted 5 2⁄3 innings, but he allowed only two runs (one earned) and struck out four. David Orndorff took the loss on the other side, allowing four runs (three earned) across a laborious five innings in which he threw 82 pitches. The Bearcats had only three hits in the game, the biggest of which was McVey’s two-run single in the top of the sixth.
Series MVP - Connor McVey
Even in the series loss, the Bearcats’ third hitter had a strong opening weekend. He slashed .364/.462/.636 with a home run and three RBI, although he did get thrown out in his only steal opportunity.
Cincinnati will have a week off to lick its wounds as it’s next game is on Friday against the College of Charleston, a matchup that will open a three-game away series for the Bearcats.