When A.J. Olasz allowed four runs in the first inning Tuesday night against Miami (Ohio), it looked like things were going to go south for the Cincinnati Bearcats, who had just traveled north to play on the road.
However, Olasz calmed down after a rough first and squeezed out three innings, Nathan Kroger did well in relief and the bats woke up in the middle innings to carry UC to an 8-6 win over the RedHawks.
Connor McVey got the offense going for the Bearcats, walking to leadoff the fourth inning and coming around to score on an RBI knock from Eric Santiago. The Bearcats would add another run in the frame, four more in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Treg Haberkorn launched a solo home run, his third of the season, to begin the top of the fifth. It was the lone extra base hit of the game for UC, which still got multi-hit games from R.J. Thompson (2-for-5) and Jace Mercer (3-for-5), with Thompson leading off and playing left and Mercer DHing from the six hole. Hot hitting A.J. Bumpass didn’t get a hit in five plate appearances, but still made an impact, drawing two walks and scoring a run.
As mentioned before, Kroger did well as a long reliever for UC. He came in to start the fourth inning, spelling Olasz after 62 pitches. Kroger would go onto hurl 88 pitches of his own and allow two runs on six hits and three walks across 5 2⁄3 innings. Ty Neal seemed content to ride Kroger to the finish line, but the freshman right-hander was lit up for a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth. He then walked the next batter he faced and Neal finally pulled him in favor of David Orndorff. The Bearcats’ closer then struck out the only batter he faced to earn his fifth save.
UC (14-14) was actually outhit by Miami (11-9), but both teams left eight runners on base and the Bearcats showed great patience, working nine walks. Ryan Noda, who had free passes in the contest, also stole his second base of the season.
With wins in two of its last three games, UC will return home to take on Tulane in its second American Athletic Conference series of the campaign this weekend. That might not be as daunting a task as it would have been last year when the Green Wave won 41 games, as they are just 12-17 overall in 2017. We’ll have more on that series closer to the weekend.