After the Cincinnati Bearcats dominated the American Athletic Conference in men’s basketball this past winter, the league was probably ready for another team to be in the driver’s seat come baseball time. Well the Bearcats are sorry to disappoint, as they are currently tied with Houston for first place in the conference. While that may not continue all season, after winning three-straight games against last place Memphis this weekend, UC is riding high.
The three wins pushed the Bearcats to 15-14 overall and 6-3 overall. They are 11-7 at home, but will have to find ways to win more often on the road (3-7) if they hope to maintain their standing near the top of the AAC.
Game One - Cincinnati 10, Memphis 2
After letting up a two-run home run in the first inning, J.T. Perez settled in and dominated. The UC ace hurled 7 1⁄3 innings of excellent ball, surrendering only five hits and two walks while striking out five. Perez even helped himself with some slick fielding.
The effort earned him his third win of the season as the UC offense erupted. Catcher Joey Thomas went 2-for-5 with two runs scored, AJ Bumpass logged a multi-hit game with two runs scored and Joey Wiemer went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Manny Rodriguez only had one hit, but he drove in three runs. The Bearcats were aggressive on the basepaths as well, stealing six bags.
Game Two - Cincinnati 7, Memphis 2
A six-run fourth inning propelled the Bearcats to a relatively easy victory on Saturday. After the Tigers tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single in the top of sixth, the Bearcats answered in a big way, using five hits and a few mistakes from the Tigers to push six across the plate in the bottom part of the frame. Thomas was again at the center of the offensive triumph, as he went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Even though they scored seven runs, the Bearcats didn’t need many with how well Nathan Kroger pitched. He lasted through seven innings and let up just six hits, two walks and a single run while striking out seven.
Game Three - Cincinnati 8, Memphis 7
This was the most competitive game, even if it shouldn’t have been. Once again, the Bearcats raced out to a big lead, scoring six runs in the first four innings. The Tigers fought back, but still trailed 8-4 entering the ninth inning. Jarod Yoakam was brought in to close out the weekend, but he had some issues. After hitting the first batter of the inning, he allowed a fielder’s choice and a single before Alec Trela smacked a three-run home run to left field. Suddenly the infallible Yoakam looked vulnerable, but he bounced back to get the next two outs quickly and give UC the win. The three runs the Tigers scored off of Yoakman were the first three of the earned variety he has allowed this season.
Series MVP - Joey Thomas
The UC backstop had an excellent weekend, leading the offense from the two-hole. He had two hits in each game and went 6-for-14 overall, while scoring four runs and driving in six, including four on Sunday. His stylings this weekend pushed his overall slash line to .267/.373/.356 this season.
The Joe Nuxhall Classic awaits this week, with UC’s first matchup in the event on Tuesday against Wright State. After that, the Bearcats will really test themselves, as they visit UCF next weekend.