A.J. Bumpass went 5-for-5 with a home run and three RBI as the Cincinnati Bearcats rallied for a 7-6 victory over the Oregon State Beavers in the first round of the Corvallis Regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament on Friday night.
Bumpass hit an RBI single in the second inning and a home run in the sixth, but it was his RBI triple in the top of the ninth that allowed the Bearcats (31-29) to avoid a collapse and secure the win. The Bearcats led 5-2 after six innings, but the Beavers scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. UC didn’t fold there, however, scoring an unearned run in the eighth before what turned out to be a game-winning hit from Bumpass in the top of the last frame.
Clayton Colvin pitched exceptionally well as the starter, allowing only two runs in six innings of work, but A.J. Kullman struggled a bit in relief, surrendering four runs across 2⁄3 innings. However, the Bearcats were able to turn to Nathan Moore (1 1⁄3 shutout innings) and closer Korren Thompson (one shutout inning) to close out the win, with Thompson recording his 13th save of the season in the process.
As for the rest of the lineup, Jace Mercer batted fifth and tallied three hits and a walk in five plate appearances while the Bearcats’ first four hitters combined to go 7-for-20 with five doubles, including multi-hit games from Eric Santiago (2-for-5), Wyatt Stapp (2-for-5) and Joey Wiemer (2-for-5).
From here the Bearcats will contend with the Michigan Wolverines at 10 p.m. EST in the winner’s bracket of the regional. Before they do, let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from last night’s win.
A.J. Bumpass is on another level right now
As a senior, Bumpass only has this tournament left before his collegiate career comes to an end. The same could have been true last week during the American Athletic Conference Tournament but he made the most of that time, recording a batting average of better than .600 to pace a dominating offensive performance from the Bearcats. Even after a few days off, Bumpass is still tearing the cover off the ball, as the Beavers could not get him out on Friday night. In five postseason games, Bumpass has reached base safely in 18 of 24 plate appearances and he now has three home runs in that time after hitting five during the regular season. He has improved his team-leading OPS to an .896 mark and is now nearly batting .300 for the year.
Clayton Colvin pitched the game of his life
Colvin has been a mainstay for UC’s staff for years but he hasn’t always had the best luck when it comes to limiting runs. His career ERA of 5.19 speaks to that, but that didn’t matter on Friday. Facing Oregon State, the 16th overall seed in the tournament, the senior right-hander tied a season-high with six innings pitched and scattered two runs across them. This marked only the second time this season he has gotten past the fifth inning and such an effort came at the most opportune time.
The back of the bullpen is locked in
Moore and Thompson have quietly been a huge reason for the Bearcats’ success this postseason. The offense has certainly lifted the most ships, but with Moore and Thompson shutting teams down in the later innings, the Bearcats have been able to avoid collapses. Moore has a 3.60 ERA overall this season and a mark of 3.00 in three appearances across the AAC and NCAA tournaments. Thompson has been even better and hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven outings.