History has been made as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ baseball team will take home the first American Athletic Conference Tournament in program history following a 22-5 win over the UConn Huskies on Sunday afternoon in Clearwater, Florida.
The Bearcats (30-29) have reached the summit of the league by winning four-straight games this week, capped by another impressive offensive display against the Huskies. The win was historic for reasons beyond their AAC implications, as UC will now play in the NCAA Tournament, something that hasn’t happened since 1974. The victory was also the 30th of the season for the Bearcats. The last time they won 30 games was in 2008, when Josh Harrison and Tony Campana were still making plays for the Bearcats.
On Sunday, the Bearcats really began to pull away in the third inning. It started with RBI singles from Wyatt Stapp and Joey Wiemer and finished with a three-run home run from catcher Mitch Holding. The junior catcher has found his power in the last few games, with hitting two of his five home runs this season during the tournament. He has also driven in eight runs, adding an RBI single in the fourth inning of the title game.
The Bearcats would continue to add to their lead throughout the afternoon, including an incredible performance in the seventh inning when they scored nine runs. Jace Mercer hit a grand slam during the frame and reached base in all six of his plate appearances overall. In addition, A.J. Bumpass continued to rake (2-for-5 with a home run), Joey Bellini went 2-for-5 with a home run, Stapp had three hits and drove in three runs, Wiemer finished 2-for-4 with a double, Eric Santiago collected three hits and Jeremy Johnson finished got on base four times overall.
UC’s pitching staff held its own as well. After starter David Orndorff labored through three innings, allowing three runs on four hits and as many walks, Garrett Schoenle entered the game. Despite walking six batters, he only allowed one run and struck out three in four innings of relief. Nathan Moore then got the final six outs. UConn left 15 runners on base while the Bearcats stranded seven. However, it wasn’t as if they needed any more runs, scoring 22 times on 24 hits, seven walks and a hit by pitch. They also went 12-for-23 with runners in scoring position compared with a 3-for-16 effort from UConn in such situations.
From here, the Bearcats will take part in the NCAA Tournament, with details about their opponent and region released tomorrow.