The regular season came to its conclusion over the weekend as the Cincinnati Bearcats wrapped things up with a three-game series against the Houston Cougars. After posting a stunning 8-6 win in extra innings in the opener, the Bearcats lost back-to-back games to put a bow on a completely even 28-28 season overall. At 10-14 in league play, they also locked up the No. 6 seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, which begins on Tuesday.
But before we look forward to that, let’s recap the final series of the regular season.
Game One - Cincinnati 8, Houston 6 (10 innings)
The Bearcats scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning and then held off a Houston rally to escape game one with a victory. R.J. Thompson knocked in a run and scored during the 10th frame as part of a 3-for-5 day. Connor McVey continued his late season renaissance, going 2-for-6 and A.J. Bumpass was excellent in the sixth spot in the order, going 2-for-5 with two RBI and as many runs scored.
Houston, which got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, got a 3-for-6 day from leadoff man Connor Wong, but Mitch Ullom was not super sharp as the starter, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks before being yanked in the fifth inning. Stud reliever Aaron Fletcher took the loss, however, giving up three runs in the ninth after pitching 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings.
Andrew Zellner did worse than Ullom (five runs, 4 2⁄3 innings), but J.T. Perez twirled 3 2⁄3 innings of shutout relief, striking out five and David Orndorff finished the game for the win, his fifth of the season.
Game Two - Houston 8, Cincinnati 3
Trey Cumbie tossed a complete game gem for Houston and the Bearcats pitching staff didn’t match him. Although A.J. Kullman pitched seven innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) and eight hits as well as four walks. Cumbie, meanwhile, finished the game with 99 pitches and just one earned run allowed (three total).
Thompson was once again great (3-for-4) as was Bumpass (3-for-4), but the rest of the team had only three hits in 26 at-bats.
Game Three - Houston 7, Cincinnati 6
The Bearcats put a scare into the Cougars, scoring four runs in the eighth inning before eventually running out of gas. The Cougars got off to a hot start, scoring five runs off of Nathan Kroger, who was chased before the first frame ended. He walked three and allowed two hits. Reese Robinson allowed two runs in 3 1⁄3 innings of relief from there and that was just enough for Houston.
Thompson had yet another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double, while Jace Mercer (3-for-4) and Eric Santiago (3-for-4, three RBI) were each potent as well. However, the late rally didn’t make up for the difficulty the Bearcats had with Houston starter John King, who allowed just two runs, (one earned) over seven innings. Thanks to King’s work, Houston captured a share of the AAC regular season title and the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney.
Series MVP - R.J. Thompson
Time and time again Thompson used his bat to get on base. By going 8-of-13 with a few doubles, the UC outfielder improved to a slash line of .349/.423/.493 this season with a team-high 17 doubles.
The Bearcats will begin their postseason run on Wednesday when they face No. 3 seed UConn in the first round of the AAC Tournament.