The Houston Cougars are a good baseball team. The Cincinnati Bearcats just won two out of three games during a weekend series against the Cougars at Marge Schott Stadium. Ergo, the Bearcats are a good baseball team. Or, at the very least, a competent one.
After dropping the first part of a double-header on Friday, UC claimed wins on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The Bearcats are now standing on their tip-toes to get to .500, sitting at 12-13 overall, including an 8-6 mark at home. They are also 3-3 against the American Athletic Conference with three series wins on the year.
Game One - Houston 4, Cincinnati 2
This game was originally scheduled for Thursday but baseball was banned in the city of Cincinnati on Thursday due to the threat of inclement weather. The extra day of rest did nothing to slow down J.T. Perez, who bounced back from an erratic outing the previous Friday against Tulane to toss seven strong innings. He allowed just one earned run in that time.
Unfortunately, the Bearcats’ did not defend particularly well behind their Friday starter, as the Cougars scored two unearned runs on Perez’s watch and won the game 4-2. UC had three errors in the game, which just wasn’t going to cut it when Houston’s Trey Cumbie was dealing like he was (eight innings, two earned runs, 10 strikeouts). Against him, the Bearcats had a total of four hits, with a double from Manny Rodriguez the only one to go for extra bases.
Game Two - Cincinnati 2, Houston 1
Eric Santiago will be remembered as the hero of this game since his RBI single in the seventh was the difference in a one-run victory. However, the pitching staff, particularly starter Nathan Kroger, were the real reason for the win. Kroger only struck out one batter in six innings, but he only allowed four hits and one walk, while inducing nine ground balls and allowing just one unearned run. Doug Lowe II (two shutout innings) and Jarod Yoakam (one shutout inning) were excellent in relief, with Yoakam picking up his second save of the season.
Santiago was one of two Bearcats to have mutli-hit games in the victory, going 2-for-3 while Kyle Mottice went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot.
Game Three - Cincinnati 4, Houston 2
Joey Wiemer and Manny Rodriguez each homered in the first four innings as the Bearcats built a 4-0 lead. The Cougars rallied some in the eighth, but Yoakam came in to lock things down and finish off the win. Before the trouble in the eighth, starter Cam Alldred followed the lead of Perez and Kroger and pitched well, throwing 6 2⁄3 shutout innings. Over his last two starts, Alldred has not allowed a run in 13 2⁄3 innings.
Series MVP - Jarod Yoakam
Each of the three starters for UC this weekend were excellent, but Yoakam was the best hurler out of the bullpen. He earned the save in each of the Bearcats’ two wins, including a four-out job on Saturday when he struck out three of four batters after allowing a double to the first player he faced. Yoakam has been particularly excellent this season, with 17 2⁄3 innings of shutout work.
Cincinnati will host Wright State on Tuesday in a rematch of a 14-8 loss on March 15. Then Memphis comes to town next weekend for a three-game series.