The second weekend series of the season is in the books and the Cincinnati Bearcats are facing a similar situation to the one they faced after the first. After winning one of three contests in the opening weekend against Northwestern State, the Bearcats once again went 1-2 in a series when facing the College of Charleston this past weekend. Here’s how things shook out.
Game One - Charleston 4, Cincinnati 3
A.J. Bumpass had a big game out of the two-hole in the lineup, but it didn’t end up equating to a UC victory. The sophomore outfielder banged out four hits in five at-bats, including a triple and a home run. He just missed the cycle, failing to hit a two-bagger during the contest. He also drove in two of the team’s three runs. Bumpass hit two home runs last season and had six extra-base hits overall so he is well on his way to eclipsing those totals.
Despite Bumpass’ great day at the plate, a so-so showing from starting pitcher Andrew Zellner and the rest of the lineup doomed the Bearcats. Zellner allowed six hits and a walk over six innings and was tagged for four runs while striking out only two batters. He took the loss, his first of the season, while Jarod Yoakam and Cam Alldred pitched scoreless innings of relief to give UC a chance to win.
Those chances were plentiful for the Bearcats, who had 12 hits to Charleston’s seven. However, 10 men left on base and a brutal effort from cleanup hitter Ryan Noda (0-for-5, four strikeouts) really kept the offense at bay.
On the other side, Cougar ace Bailey Ober twirled 6 1⁄3 solid innings, allowing two runs and striking out six. Catcher Erven Roper went 2-for-3 and Bradley Dixon and Joey Mundy each had two RBI, with Mundy launching a two-run shot in the fifth inning.
Game Two - Cincinnati 5, Charleston 4
Another A.J. deserves a great deal of credit for this victory. Sophomore right-hander hurled A.J. Kullman threw four shutout innings of relief after starter J.T. Perez was lit up for four runs on seven hits in five innings, although he did flash his strikeout stuff, punching out six. Kullman’s dominance allowed UC to come back from a 4-2 deficit and collect its second win of the season, both of which he has been responsible for.
UC once again out-hit the Cougars (9-8) in this one, led by two-hit games from Jace Mercer (2-for-5), who played designated hitter and led off, and left fielder R.J. Thompson (2-for-4, two RBI). Noda made up for his rough series opener, hitting his first home run of the season after being demoted to the No. 7 spot in the order.
Two of UC’s runs were unearned, which ruined a decent start from Charleston’s Carter Love (5 1/3 inning, five hits, five strikeouts, two earned runs).
Game Three - Charleston 5, Cincinnati 3
A late surge in the ninth was not enough to put the Bearcats over the hump in Sunday’s finale. After being shutout for eight innings, UC pushed three runs across in the top of the ninth inning, sparked by a leadoff double from catcher Joey Thomas. However, the rally finally stalled when Thompson lined out to shortstop with a runner on third base.
Mercer once again had two hits, making him the only Bearcat with a multi-hit contest on Sunday.
On the pitching side of things, Ty Neal went with an all hands on deck approach, as six pitchers got in the game, including starter David Orndorff, who allowed five hits and two runs in just 2 2⁄3 innings of work.
Evan Sisk spun five excellent innings for the Cougars, limiting the Bearcats to two hits while striking out six. Of UC’s nine hits, five came in the final frame.
Series MVP - A.J. Kullman
We once again will hand out these honors despite a series loss. Although the 6’8” reliever only pitched in one game, it was an important outing. He needed 46 pitches to work through four innings to get his second win of the season. He has posted a 1.17 ERA and 0.782 WHIP in 7 2⁄3 innings of work overall.
UC will play its first home game of the season on Wednesday when it hosts Indiana at Marge Schott Stadium. The Bearcats split two meetings with the Hoosiers last season, winning 5-0 in Bloomington and losing 7-3 at home. Following the midweek affair, the Bearcats will take on Arkansas State in a three-game set on the road.