The University of Cincinnati baseball team had an impressive season last year, winning the American Athletic Conference tournament and reaching its first NCAA Tournament since 1974. But within the team stands a certain, 6-foot-5, 215-pound outfielder, by the name of Joey Wiemer.
Wiemer, who originally is from Temperance, Michigan, came to UC as a freshman three years ago. Since then, he has amounted accomplishments that have the collegiate world taking notice. Within his sophomore season, he set a school record of starting all of the team’s 62 games and featured at number two on an issue of ESPN’s top-10 plays.
But Wiemer didn’t always have eyes for hitting home runs and catching fly balls. He was also an avid basketball and football athlete growing up.
“I always played three sports growing up, and baseball was in the mix,” Wiemer said. “There was always talks about it; I love playing football too. So, it was kind of between football and baseball.”
Wiemer, who was a stellar student-athlete in high-school having a 3.5 GPA all four years, also played football for all four years of his time at Bedford High School. But according to Wiemer, as he grew older, he decided that baseball was what he would focus on.
And so, the long-locked freshman traveled down to the Queen City and chose UC to be his home for the next four years. Which has been a “perfect fit” so far, says Wiemer.
“In every sense of the word,” he said. “I love the coaching staff, absolutely love the team, the schedule is great, you know the places we get to go is awesome. The school is great; I don’t have anything to complain about.”
Although the team and Wiemer had a successful season last time out, they are not yet satisfied.
“Last year, we broke the seal,” Wiemer said. “We did something that hasn’t been done in a while. So, we just want to keep that upward trajectory moving.”
Even though the team had an extraordinary end to the season last year, its fortunes could have ended much differently had it finished the season the same way it started it. Out of their first ten games in the 2019 season, the Bearcats lost nine of them; leading to a game of “catch-up” for most of the season.
While there were some significant losses, there were also some emphatic victories. The first of these that “jump-started” their season, Wiemer reflected, was the Bearcat’s victory over the University of South Florida.
Wiemer says they saw the matchup against the conference rival as an opportunity to change the team’s fortunes. The Bearcats took advantage of said opportunity by beating the Bulls 2-1, kick starting some fight and determination within the team that would be subsequently unmatched throughout the AAC Conference.
Another landmark moment of the season was the triumph over the then #22 University of Connecticut, where the Bearcats won 2-out-of-3 matches over the Huskies who were expected to trample the Midwestern minnows.
“That was a big series for us,” Wiemer said. “We already believed in ourselves, but [that was] another solidifier.”
Soon after, a 15-0 loss at the hands of the University of Central Florida, which ended in the eighth inning due to mercy rule, served to derail some of the spirits within the team; and certainly didn’t improve over the fact that they had a double-header against the same opponent the very next day along with some horrid weather conditions.
UC’s situation was dire, knowing it would take something special to revive their season, the Bearcats put themselves in full gear. After securing a win in the first game of the day with a final score of 8-3, the second game came down to the wire.
A Joey Wiemer walk-off home run on the last pitch of the day sealed a 2-1 victory that would be a major “momentum shift,” Wiemer told TNR.
The Bearcats continued to carry that momentum by winning four-out-of-four matches at the AAC Tournament in Clearwater, Florida ending with a 22-5 victor over UCONN. With this, the Bearcats became the American Athletic Conference Tournament Champions for the first time in program history.
However, this victory came with implications far beyond the AAC. The Bearcats then traveled to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1974, only to face the previous national champions – Oregon State University. Although the Bearcats defeated the Beavers, they ultimately succumbed the next two games against the University of Michigan and Creighton University respectively, ending their season and their journey in the NCAA Tournament.
Heading into this 2020 season, the Bearcats will by no means be satisfied with an early leave in the tournament, according to Wiemer.
“We want to go to Omaha,” he said. “I think that is the goal for every collegiate baseball program. You know get to Omaha, play in the College World Series. Win it, take everything home. But, another [NCAA Tournament] regionals is definitely on the list.”
Wiemer played last summer in the Cape Cod League with the Harwich Mariners.
“The summer was awesome,” he said. “I had a great host family, great coaching staff. It was a really good set up for me, stress-free, lifting, just playing baseball.”
Wiemer ended the summer season as a Cape Code league all-star and was named in the preseason All-American team. Something that surprised the Bearcat junior.
“You know you always expect yourself to do well, but it was a really cool honor to be a part of,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, [I’m just focused on] going out and playing, whatever it takes for the team to win this year.”
The Bearcats start their season with a trip to Georgia this weekend, where they will face-up against Georgia State University, Georgia Tech University and Kennesaw State University in the team’s first weekend series.
They play their first six games away from home and don’t arrive back at Marge Schott Stadium until Feb. 26, where they will face Indiana State University.