Although there is still plenty of season left to go, we can already say that Cincinnati may have a bit of an offensive problem. The squad has not hit particularly well this year, even as it owns a 12-11 record following this past weekend. The Bearcats are hitting .233 as a team, although they’ve managed to get on base at a decent clip in comparison (.320). However, with a slugging percentage of .342, most of those base runners have been left stranded, as UC has averaged a middling 4.2 runs per game.
However, this past weekend, against Northern Kentucky, the bats came alive, marking the second-straight week the Bearcats have won a weekend series while finding success in the batter’s box.
Game One - Cincinnati 9, Northern Kentucky 1
In what was the most dominant win of the season, there were a number of standout performers. Outfielder A.J. Bumpass continued his assault this season, going 2-for-5 with a double, triple and four RBI. Meanwhile, first baseman Ryan Noda launched his second home run of the season and Joey Thomas slapped three hits in four at-bats at catcher. Additionally, Manny Rodriguez scored two runs and drove in a pair on a 1-of-3 day.
Starter Andrew Zellner only went four innings, but he limited the Norse to one run on three hits and struck out a trio as well. The bullpen did the rest, led by Reese Robinson, who finished the game, closing out the last three innings without allowing a run.
Game Two - Northern Kentucky 3, Cincinnati 2
So the bats weren’t that loud in this one. In the first leg of a double-header, UC had only five hits and left six batters on base. Third baseman Connor McVey had two hits in three at-bats, including a double, but his RBI was one of only two for the cause. Bumpass scored a pair of runs and and had a hit and his third stolen base of the campaign.
J.T. Perez dug himself a hole to start the contest, as the southpaw allowed two runs on two hits in the first inning. He settled down after that and ended with a line of five innings, three runs and five strikeouts. His counterpart on NKU pitched much better, as Pat Kelley let up just one run on four hits while striking out six across seven innings. The Bearcats scored a run and threatened to get more in the eighth, but Cameron Ross closed the door, finishing out the last 1 2⁄3 innings without allowing a run.
Game Three - Cincinnati 13, Northern Kentucky 7
A low scoring football game broke out in the second half of the double-header. The real eruption came in the bottom of the fourth inning when the Bearcats scored six runs to break a 1-1 tie and pull away for good. They would add a run in the fifth and sixth innings before dropping a four-spot in the seventh, which allowed them to hold off the Norse, who scored five runs in the final two innings.
Bumpass kept his blistering bat going, smashing three hits in four at-bats and coming a triple short of the cycle. Eric Santiago played second base and also plated four batters while going 2-for-4. Rodriguez and Noda each had multi-hit games as well.
On the pitching side, NKU starter Charlie Jerger was lit up for seven runs before being chased in the fourth inning. The rest of the Norse staff allowed six more runs, although only one of those was earned. UC used seven pitchers in the game, with Jarod Yoakam earning the win with 1 2⁄3 innings of scoreless relief.
Series MVP - A.J. Bumpass
The Bearcats outfielder has made a habit of winning this award and for good reason. Bumpass batted .428 over the weekend and tallied eight RBI, four runs and four extra-base hits. He has been far and away the best offensive player on the team, leading in batting average (.349), doubles (six), RBI (17) total bases (52), slugging percentage (.627) and on-base percentage (.438). He has also stolen three bases and has yet to suffer an error in the field.
On Tuesday, the Bearcats will visit Kentucky for a rematch of a March 8 contest that went to extra innings before UC pulled out a 2-1 win. After that, its time for American Athletic Conference play to start in a three-game weekend series against Memphis.