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Cincinnati Bearcats Baseball Game Preview: AAC Tournament First Round

The Bearcats will be the first team to tangle with the defending conference champs.

Nick Brown/GoBearcats.com

General Info

Matchup: Cincinnati Bearcats (28-28, 10-14) vs. UConn Huskies (31-23, 14-10)

Location: Spectrum Field Clearwater, Florida

Series History: In an all-time series that started in 2006, UC is 12-20 against the Huskies.

Time/Probable Starters: 12 p.m./David Orndorff (5-4, 3.19 ERA) vs. TBA

Meet The Opponent ... Again

These teams met for a three-game set at the end of April and UConn came away with two wins in three days at home. Since then, the Huskies have gone 7-5 with important series wins against USF and East Carolina. Last year’s AAC Tournament winners enjoyed a strong campaign and were even within striking distance of a regular season title entering last weekend.

Some excellent starting pitching carried the Huskies to their series win against UC, although the work of their bullpen left a lot to be desired. However, with Tim Cate throwing eight shutout innings and striking out 12, Mason Feole punching out eight across 6 12 innings of two-run ball and Wills Montgomerie hurling six shutout frames with nine Ks, the Huskies showed off their tremendous staff, which continues to be the engine driving them forward.

No one batter really punished the Bearcats in that earlier series, but third baseman Willy Yahn, who usually bats near the top of the order, did manage to get a hit in each game and go 5-for-10 with two doubles and six runs scored. Isaac Feldstein also had a decent series, going 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in the opener, while collecting a hit in each of the next two outings. Yahn is batting .316 on the season, leading the team, while Feldstein (.257) has been more of a middle of the pack bat average wise, while leading in the power categories (.six home runs, .445 slugging percentage).

Game Breakdown

As you might have guessed, the Huskies didn’t suddenly learn how to crush baseballs since we last saw them. Although UC is last in the AAC in batting average (.249), the Huskies are not much better (.255) and they also don’t hit for much power at all, with a league-low 17 home runs to their credit.

That should be beneficial for David Orndorff (5-4, 3.19 ERA), UC’s starter on Tuesday. The junior right-hander is a good choice considering he has the lowest ERA of any pitcher with at least an inning pitched for UC. Orndorff has played a number of roles this season, making 20 appearances, including seven starts, while also leading the team in saves (seven). Orndorff pitched twice, both times as a reliever, against UConn this season. With a line of 1 23 innings and zero runs allowed, he had success. He’ll just have to carry that over more than a couple innings.

UConn has not announced who will start on Tuesday, but with its three solid starting options, you can expect UC to have a challenge on offense, even with second-team all-conference bats R.J. Thompson (.349/.423/.493) and Ryan Noda (.243/.397/.497) primed to smash.

Prediction

Last year’s AAC tournament was forgettable for UC, which lost two games in as many days and was gone. UConn is definitely a tough team, but the Bearcats have what it takes to steal a win. If Orndorff pitches well and the Bearcats can get something going offensively, an upset will be in the works.