It has been nearly a month since Ty Neal stepped down as the head baseball coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats. In that time, UC has recovered by hiring Scott Googins away from Xavier, but before we can move on entirely, its about time we take a look back at what Neal did for the program. We’ll break it down year by year.
Neal took over a program that had just gone 24-32 and just 4-14 in the Big East in the final year under Brian Cleary. Things got off to a bumpy start, as the Bearcats lost nine of their first 11 games. They never dug themselves out of that hole, but they were a bit more respectable over the course of the season, going 20-22 after the bad start, including a marginally improved 6-18 mark in league play, although in a different one (American Athletic Conference).
Best Position Player: Ian Happ (.322/.443/.497, five home runs, 85 total bases, 32 runs, 19 stolen bases)
Best Pitcher: Connor Walsh (5-8, 3.86 ERA, team-high 46 strikeouts)
Best Win: April 26. 3-0 over No. 12 Houston
Final Record: 22-31, 6-18 American Athletic Conference
Win Differential: Won two fewer games than the previous season
This was a miserable year to be a Cincinnati baseball fan, except for the incredible performance put on by Ian Happ, who would go on to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft that spring. Happ was named the 2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was an All-American as well. Even with Happ hammering, the Bearcats won all of 15 games. However, they did match their league record from the year before, so there’s that.
Best Position Player: Ian Happ (.369/.492/.672, 14 home runs, 133 total bases, 47 runs, 12 stolen bases)
Best Pitcher: Andrew Zellner (2-5, 3.63 ERA, 57 strikeouts, only player on team with ERA below 4.00 and more than 20 innings pitched)
Best Win: April 2. 4-1 over No. 6 UCF
Final Record: 15-41, 6-18 American Athletic Conference
Win Differential: Won seven fewer games
This was probably Neal’s best season, as the Bearcats were in the thick of the AAC title chase pretty much to the end of the regular season. However, stumbles down the stretch ruined their chances. Still, a 10-game winning streak in March, which featured series sweeps of Canisius and Northwestern propelled UC into strong position entering league play, which began with series wins over USF and UConn. In the AAC tournament, the wheels came off for good, as UC was the first team eliminated, falling to No. 5 seed Houston and then to No. 8 UCF in extra innings the next day.
Best Position Player: Connor McVey (.292/.379/.420, 19 extra-base hits, 89 total bases, 35 runs, 27 stolen bases)
Best Pitcher: Andrew Zellner (7-4, 2.32 ER, 108 2⁄3 innings pitched, 66 strikeouts, four complete games
Best Win: April 17. 7-4 over No. 22 Tulane
Final Record: 26-30-1, 13-10-1 American Athletic Conference
Win Differential: Won 11 more games and went 13-10-1 in league play
After a promising 2016 season, the Bearcats were unable to recapture the magic, especially on the mound, as Andrew Zellner and J.T. Perez both regressed heavily. However, there were still some impressive wins along the way, as UC won a series against USF and knocked off then No. 1 Louisville, Kentucky and Tennessee. Neal stepped down during the AAC tournament, meaning the Bearcats went 28-29 under his direction overall, while putting up a 10-14 record against the AAC.
Best Position Player: R.J. Thompson (.350/.426/.493, 23 extra-base hits, 110 total bases, 30 runs)
Best Pitcher: David Orndorff (5-4, 3.41 ER, 63 1⁄3 innings pitched, 40 strikeouts)
Best Win: March 21. 6-3 over No. 1 Louisville
Final Record: 28-30, 10-14 American Athletic Conference
Win Differential: Won two more games
As a head coach, Neal pushed the Bearcats to a 91-131 overall record. While that is obviously not the type of winning number you’d like to see, there is no denying that Neal had UC pointed in the right direction during the last two seasons. Now its up to Googins to keep things on the up and up.