It was another rough weekend on the road for the Cincinnati Bearcats. A 6-1 win against Indiana in their first home game of the season last Wednesday had them riding some momentum into a weekend series with the Arkansas State Red Wolves, but things did not go according to plan.
Game One - Arkansas State 5, Cincinnati 4
Thanks to a return to form from ace Andrew Zellner, the Bearcats were off to a great start in the opening game of the weekend. Zellner allowed only two runs on as many hits, while striking out nine across six stellar innings. R.J. Thompson blasted a two-run homer in the top of the third inning to stake the Bearcats to an early lead, and they were still up 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
However, that’s where things got away from them, as A.J. Kullman, normally a dependable arm out of the bullpen, allowed thee runs, eventually taking the loss. Kullman surrendered three hits and a walk during two innings of work and UC was unable to touch Tanner Kirby (3 innings, four strikeouts) after tagging Bryan Ayers for four runs over six innings.
UC had more hits (six) than the Red Wolves (four), but also committed two errors.
Game Two - Arkansas State 5, Cincinnati 1
Before we get to the negative from this game, let’s take some time to appreciate the bounce back of Kyle Mottice, who went 3-for-4 on Saturday after accumulating only five hits in the first eight games. Connor McVey also had a multi-hit game (2-for-4), but the rest of the lineup managed only three knocks in 24 at-bats.
Now to the bad stuff. J.T. Perez pitched into the seventh inning, but he allowed four runs on four hits and two walk, while only striking out four. On the other side, Peyton Culbertson absolutely shut the Bearcats down, spinning six shutout frames before Tyler Zuber locked down the final three frames for the save.
Game Three - Cincinnati 11, Arkansas State 4
The bats finally got to the field on Sunday afternoon, as the Bearcats set a season-high with 11 runs scored while producing their second 10-hit game of the campaign. Right-fielder A.J. Bumpass had the best day at the dish, smacking a triple, scoring three runs and driving in four as part of a 2-for-5 showing. Shortstop Eric Santiago had a nice day as well, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two driven in.
On the pitching side, David Orndorff was the Sunday starter once again and grinded his way to a very solid start, allowing three runs and striking out five over eight innings and 114 pitches.
Series MVP - Connor McVey
Although Bumpass showed out on Sunday, McVey was a steady bat in the middle of the order all weekend. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI on Friday, 2-for-4 on Saturday and 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored on Sunday. He also recorded his first two stolen bases of the season, which was good to see after he was limited on the base paths the first two weeks of the season. Mcvey now leads the team in batting average (.342) and on-base percentage (.432), while slugging .500.
Its SEC week for the 4-6 Bearcats, who will host Kentucky in a one-off game on Wednesday before visiting Tennessee for a three-game series next weekend.