It’s been an eventful week for Cincinnati baseball and we thank the Bearcats for doing their part in helping us all move on from UC’s loss in the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. They played two games this week, including a marquee-worthy matchup with No. 1 Louisville on Tuesday. Let’s see how the week has played out so far.
Game One - Cincinnati 6, Louisville 3
The Cardinals rose to the No. 1 spot in the NCBWA Top 25 after a 19-0 start to the season. When they shot for their 20th win of the season on Tuesday, UC was standing in their way.
The Bearcats didn’t budge.
UC scored five runs in the first two innings, sparked by two RBI from Kyle Mottice and a throwing error from U of L. Mottice did a nice job out of the top of the lineup, going 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored while playing second base. Eric Santiago also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI while playing designated hitter. Interestingly, the Bearcats scored six runs despite leaving 12 runners on base and failing to record an extra-base hit.
That means the pitching must have been pretty good and it was. The Bearcats’ staff let up three runs, but only one of them was earned. Using an all-hands-on-deck approach, Ty Neal inserted five different pitchers into the game, including starter Nathan Kroger, who was making his first start of the year. The freshman right-hander only lasted 3 2⁄3 innings, but he limited the Cardinals to two runs (one earned) on three hits and as many walks. Jarod Yoakam came in next and pitched 2 1⁄3 innings of shutout ball, walking three but not allowing a hit. Starters J.T. Perez, Andrew Zellner and David Orndorff each pitched an inning of relief apiece, with Orndorff continuing to morph into Neal’s closer, securing his fourth save of the year.
When all was said and done, the Cardinals had taken their first loss of the season and the Bearcats had earned their first win over a No. 1 team ever. That’s right. EVER.
Game Two - Indiana 3, Cincinnati 2
Which makes the letdown on Wednesday that much more disappointing. Of course, the Bearcats got to play Louisville at home, but they had to travel to face Indiana on Wednesday. The hosting Hoosiers scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and kept UC at bay to win the day.
Indiana used six pitchers while UC used only two, with starter A.J. Olasz allowing three runs over four innings. Tristan Hammers looked great in relief, hanging four zeroes on the board. Unfortunately the Bearcats only got five hits in the game, although some timely ones allowed them to squeeze two runs out anyway.
The win was a bit of revenge for the Hoosiers, who suffered a 6-1 loss to UC on March 1. The Bearcats are now an even 10-10 win on the season, but they’ve got some impressive wins on the resume, including the victories over Louisville, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Weekday MVP - Kyle Mottice
Normally this would go to the MVP of a series, but since UC played two different opponents we’ll just change the title of this very terrific honor. Mottice gets the first weekday MVP in that case, as he was excellent with the bat against Louisville, and still managed to record an RBI against Indiana. He also did a good job in the field, playing clean defense at second base.
Mottice’s season has still been a bit of a disappointment at the plate overall this season (.211/.296/.310), but perhaps these past two games will be the beginning of a hot streak.
UC will remain local this weekend, although it will travel a bit. Two home games against Northern Kentucky highlight Friday and Saturday before a trip to face the Norse on the road on Sunday.