Cincinnati is better than the entire state of Kansas at baseball. OK, maybe that’s not entirely accurate, but after the Bearcats took three-straight games from the Jayhawks this past weekend, its isn’t entirely inaccurate either.
While the series win won’t help the Bearcats in their quest for an American Athletic Conference championship, it did improve them to 22-19 overall and made for their second series sweep in the month of April alone. They also took down Memphis in three games earlier in the month. With their 22 wins, the Bearcats have now had at least 20 victories in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
Game One - Cincinnati 4 Kansas 3
In J.T. Perez’s first start since the absolute gem he threw against UConn on April 20, the lefty ace didn’t miss as many bats, as he allowed eight hits in only 5 1⁄3 innings. However, he only allowed two runs, despite striking out only two and walking three. But thanks to multi-hit games from Manny Rodriguez and Eric Santiago, as well as RBI knocks from Treg Haberkorn and AJ Bumpass, the Bearcats were able to escape with a game one victory. A.J. Kullman and Jarod Yoakam each fared well enough out of the bullpen, with Kullman allowing just one run in three innings, while Yoakam closed the game for his fourth save despite allowing a hit and a walk while getting the final two outs.
Game Two - Cincinnati 7 Kansas 6 (13 innings)
Walkoffs are a ton of fun, especially when they put an end to an extra-inning ball game. Connor Mcvey singled up the middle to plate Rodriguez in the bottom of the 13th inning to win this game for the Bearcats. McVey went 3-for-7 with two RBI, but it was Joey Thomas who was the offensive star, as he went 4-for-7, with no hit bigger than his RBI single in the eighth which tied the game at 6-6. Kyle Mottice (2-for-7), Joey Wiemer (2-for-5) and Santiago (2-for-5) all got multiple hits in a game when the Bearcats left 13 runners on base.
Obviously the bullpen had to work quite a bit in this one, especially as starter Nathan Kroger had a pretty forgettable five innings of work when he allowed eight hits and four runs. Tristan Hammans was the next arm out there, and he allowed two runs in 2 2⁄3 innings. From there, the relievers were lights out, as Clayton Colvin, Yoakam and Isaac Olson combined for 5 1⁄3 innings of shutout baseball.
Game Three - Cincinnati 9 Kansas 3
After skating by the Jayhawks in the first two games, the Bearcats bashed their opponents on Sunday, powered by a plethora of extra-base hits. Led by home runs from McVey and Wiemer, the Bearcats had six extra-base hits, which all brought in runs. McVey’s only hit was a solo homer in the eighth, while Mottice, Wiemer and Thomas each had two hits.
Cam Alldred’s only mistake in the game was a three-run double he allowed in the sixth inning, but other than that he was stupendous. He struck out seven batters in seven innings. Freshman lefty Garrett Schoenle made his collegiate debut in the game and was excellent, striking out four in two shutout innings to earn his first career save.
Series MVP - Joey Thomas
Even though Thomas went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the first game of the series, he really helped carry the offense in the next two contests. In all, he went 6-for-14 (.429) with two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Thomas has been a consistent hitter at catcher, slashing .265/.336/.331. He has not had a ton of pop (five extra-base hits), but the amount of pitches he puts in play make him a tough out.
On Tuesday, the Beearcats will face in-state rival Miami-Ohio before a three-game road series against Wichita State next weekend. That will mark the return to play in the AAC, which is a better baseball conference than you might think.