Considering the Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team lost more games than it won (28-30), there was a lot of disappointment this season. There was also a decent amount of success as well, which is illustrated by that nearly .500 record. But what were the best victories of the year? That’s what we’re here to talk about.
No. 5 - April 1 at Memphis
In their second American Athletic Conference game of the season, the Bearcats won in style. Trailing 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and facing Memphis’ top reliever, Colton Hathcock, UC appeared to be on its way to the loss column. However, A.J. Bumpass had other plans, doubling off of Hathcock before coming around to score thanks to a Connor McVey single and an error.
In the 10th, Hathcock remained on the hill, but bunt singles from Jace Mercer and Manny Rodriguez led to the Bearcats’ 4-3 walkoff win.
No. 4 - May 18 at Houston
The Bearcats had a tough task in their final series of the regular season, facing Houston, a team which would go on to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Despite having the deck stacked against them, the Bearcats managed to pull out a win in the first game of the series.
It was another extra inning affair that produced this victory, which ended with UC on top 8-6 after it scored three runs in the top of the 10th and escaped danger in the bottom part of the inning. J.T. Perez pitched very well in relief ( 3 2⁄3 innings, zero runs, five strikeouts) and A.J. Bumpass homered as part of a 2-for-5 day to help make it all happen.
No. 3 - April 14 at USF
USF is headed to the NCAA Tournament, but it might not have gotten there if it had played UC all season. The Bearcats were able to pull out an impressive series win against the Bulls thanks to a convincing 9-3 win in the opener mixed with a 3-2 extra innings triumph in game two. It is that contest which is featured here.
The Bearcats put two runs on the board in the top of the first thanks to doubles from Bumpass and Eric Santiago. They could have had three, but Bumpass was gunned down at home. USF slipped back to even just one inning later and then the pitching duel got going in earnest. Perez hung right with Shane McClanahan, as both pitched into the sixth inning while allowing only two runs. Despite Perez’s solid outing, it was the work of A.J. Kullman that pushed UC over the edge. The sophomore right-hander tossed the final 4 1⁄3 innings and allowed just two hits and not a single run, which made Joey Thomas’ sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th enough for a win.
No. 2 - March 8 vs. Kentucky
This whole extra innings thing is a theme, I guess. UC won this contest 2-1 in 10 innings against an eventual NCAA Tournament participant. A.J. Olasz befuddled the normally potent Wildcats, holding them to two hits and no runs over 6 2⁄3 innings. The Bearcats bullpen held for the most part, especially Kullman, who once again finished a tight victory with multiple shutout innings.
This win, while one of the more impressive, was not the prettiest for the Bearcats, who scored two unearned runs to lay claim to victory. The winning blow came when Santiago scored from second on an error by UK’s third baseman.
No. 1 - March 21 vs. Louisville
Louisville is ranked No. 7 in the country right now but back on March 21 it was the nation’s No. 1. That didn’t scare the Bearcats, who backed down the Cardinals to the tune of a 6-3 victory.
Although they did not have a single extra-base hit, the Bearcats did enough offensively, jumping on Louisville’s mistakes while getting solid contributions from Kyle Mottice (2-for-5, two RBI) and Santiago (2-for-4, RBI). The bullpen also did work, allowing one unearned run over the final 5 1⁄3 innings.