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Game Preview: Cincinnati Bearcats at Ohio State Buckeyes

A road trip inside state lines.

Nick Brown/GoBearcats.com

General Info

Matchup: Cincinnati Bearcats (15-16) at Ohio State Buckeyes (14-17)

Location: Nick Swisher Field, Columbus, Ohio

Series History: Unfortunately, the Buckeyes have ruled this in-state rivalry with a 69-24-2 all-time record against the Bearcats. Last year, OSU earned its third-straight victory against UC with a 9-0 triumph.

Time/Probably Starters: 6:35 p.m./A.J. Olasz (2-1, 4.12) vs. Connor Curlis (2-1, 5.40)

Meet the Opponent

We’re not talking about a powerhouse here. Ohio State is 14-17 overall this year and just 4-6 at home. The Buckeyes hold an uninspiring 3-6 record in Big Ten action, but they did take two out of three from Penn State over the weekend.

Like UC, Ohio State doesn’t hit for much average, but there is a little pop up and down the lineup and the team has still managed to score runs and get on base at a decent clip. While its squad-wide slash line of .238/.344/.383 is pretty middle of the road on paper, especially in the slugging department, its worth noting seven players have at least two home runs, including five apiece from Noah McGowan and Zach Ratcliff. To put that in perspective, UC has four players with at least two dingers.

Right fielder Dominic Canzone hasn’t done much for the home run total (one), but he is batting .309 this season. Meanwhile, center fielder Tre’ Gantt (.295/.412/.446) has a great eye and is tied for the team lead in total bases. Shortstop Jalen Washington is your old school style leadoff guy, as he has speed (8-of-11 steals), but isn’t great getting on base (.224/.329/.422).

OSU’s staff is OK, but nothing to get to scared over, with a team ERA of 4.84. The key is getting to the starters, as reliever Seth Kinker (2.08 ERA, 27 strikeouts in 26 IP) is a lock down arm with four saves to his credit.

Game Breakdown

The starter UC will try to bounce early is Connor Curlis, a sophomore lefthander from Findlay, Ohio. Curlis is 2-1 with 5.40 ERA in nine appearances, but only three starts, so he is not exactly accustomed to the starting limelight. He has some nasty stuff, with 31 strikeouts in 25 innings, but he hasn’t started since March 24 against Minnesota when he was lit up for seven runs on nine hits in four innings.

After a dare I say dominant start to the campaign, A.J. Olasz stumbled last week against Miami-Ohio. Making his sixth start of the campaign, the junior lefty surrendered four runs on five hits and only struck out two batters as his ERA ballooned to 4.12. Luckily, the Bearcats’ bats were on and helped club the red and black to an 8-6 victory.

Doing the same against Ohio State will fall on the shoulders of Ryan Noda and A.J. Bumpass. Its old news at this point how well Bumpass has been this season, but who doesn’t like basking in the glow of Bearcats success. I’d assume you do, reader, otherwise I’m not sure how you got to be reading about UC baseball on a Tuesday. Bumpass is still batting an incredible .360 this season, has yet to make an error and has smashed 17 extra base hits and 21 RBI, both team-highs. Noda had a slower start to the campaign, but has been heating up of late. His five home runs lead the team and his .284 batting average now puts him in a more respectable area for a middle of the order bat.

Prediction

Olasz has done a good job of keeping the ball in the yard this season, allowing just one home run in 24 innings. He’ll be tested in that area against Ohio State, a true three outcome style lineup. I expect Olasz to be better than he was against Miami, but I’m not sure if he’ll be good enough to pitch the Bearcats to victory, especially on the road.