The world may be buried in brackets right now but don’t forget that baseball is still going on. The Cincinnati Bearcats certainly didn’t, even if they didn’t end up playing on Sunday to show reverence to the NCAA Tournament bracket unveiling. (Actually it was because of a nasty weather forecast).
Overall, the weekend series with Tennessee went just as every other one has gone this season, with the Bearcats losing twice in three games. UC is now 6-8 overall with a little less than a month of the season under its belt. Here’s how the weekend shook out.
Game One - Cincinnati 2, Tennessee 1
Thank goodness for Andrew Zellner. The Bearcats ace did something few pitchers have been able to do so far this season: shut down the Volunteer bats. Zellner was unfazed against the SEC lineup, allowing just one run on four hits across six innings. He did miss the zone a little more than usual, with three walks and only three strikeouts, but it was enough to earn him his first win of the season.
However, you could make the argument that Zellner was the second-best UC pitcher in the series opener, as David Orndorff, normally the Sunday starter, hurled three shutout innings in relief to earn the save.
UC got out to an early lead thanks to a solo home run from Connor McVey in the top of the first inning. McVey went 2-for-4 and was one of three hitters with multi-knock games, with Jace Mercer (2-of-4) and R.J. Thompson (2-for-4) the others.
Game Two - Tennessee 2, Cincinnati 1
J.T. Perez finally pitched a good game but he got very little run support and fell to 0-3 on the season thanks to a Tennessee walkoff. The junior southpaw got through the first seven innings unscathed, but he gave up a run in the eighth and was responsible for the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. After striking out the first batter he faced in the last frame, Perez gave up a double and a walk before Ty Neal yanked him in favor of A.J. Kullman, who got one out before surrendering a game-winning RBI single.
In total, Perez pitched 8 1⁄3 innings and struck out six while allowing five hits and four walks. It was a welcome sight even if the end result (and four walks) were not ideal.
UC did not do much to support its pitcher, as the Bearcats went 4-for-27 as a team.
Game Three - Tennesee 6, Cincinnati 2
UC used six pitchers in a losing effort in the second half of Saturday’s double-header. Clayton Colvin got the start and let up four runs on five hits in 3 1⁄3 innings of work. That was plenty for Tennessee, which got six-innings of two-run ball from starter Zach Warren and banged out six runs on 12 hits.
Series MVP - Andrew Zellner
Giving an award for the whole weekend to a player that was in only one game may seem odd, but Zellner deserves credit for pitching UC to its lone win in this series. Perez also pitched a mighty fine game, but Zellner stands above the rest as a victor. Zellner has throw three quality starts in four appearances and has a 2.96 ERA in 24 1⁄3 innings this season. He is still not a volume strikeout pitcher (20 total), but he has done a solid job of keeping teams from scoring in bunches, if at all.
UC will remain on the road this Tuesday in a one-off against Wright State before beginning a five-game home stand on Wednesday against Miami-Ohio.