The University of Cincinnati baseball team defeated Xavier 2-1 Tuesday night at Marge Schott Stadium to advance to the championship of the Joe Nuxhall Classic.
In a game that lacked offensive firepower, two runs proved to be enough for UC to win the game between the two rivals. A trio of Bearcat hurlers shut down the Musketeers, allowing just six baserunners.
Senior pitcher David Orndorff got the start on the mound and did not disappoint. He pitched six innings, striking out six and giving up the lone run of the game on a second-inning home run.
A key for Orndorff was his ability to pound the strike zone, firing 51 of his 69 pitches for strikes.
“I think I did my usual job,” Orndorff said. “I throw a lot of strikes and let my defense play behind me.”
Freshman Drake Batcho and junior Nathan Moore teamed up to prevent the Musketeers from scoring in the final three innings.
Xavier shortstop Chris Givin led the fifth inning with a triple, but Orndorff proceeded to sit the next three Musketeers down on strikes.
“[Giving up a triple] definitely kind of made me angry,” Orndorff said. “I think it provided a little more motivation to get out of the inning.”
After Xavier struck first with a solo home run in the second inning, UC responded in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Jace Mercer grounded a one-out single into left field and came around to score on shortstop Joey Bellini’s double.
The Bearcats came close to taking the lead in the fifth inning, but catcher Mitch Holding was thrown out at home trying to score on third baseman Eric Santiago’s double down the left field line.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh. Santiago pounded a triple to the right field corner — his third hit of the game. A few pitches later, Xavier pitcher Nate Czabala threw a wild pitch, allowing Santiago to score. Santiago finished a homer shy of the cycle.
UC’s defense was stellar, as the team did not commit a single error. Givin stepped to the plate as the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and laced a line drive to the left-center field. The Bearcats executed a relay to throw Givin out at third base to end the inning.
The Musketeers twice came within a few feet of taking the lead or tying the game. With two outs and a runner on first at the top of the eighth, Xavier leadoff hitter Connor Grammes skied a flyball to left field — but Joey Wiemer caught it.
With one out the top of the ninth, Musketeer left-fielder Allbry Major hammered a double off the top of the wall in right-center, coming inches away from a game-tying home run. Moore managed to strand Major on second, retiring the next two batters on groundouts.
The Joe Nuxhall classic is a four-team tournament between UC, Xavier, Miami (OH) and Wright State. UC will face Miami in the championship at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s championship, which saw Miami emerge victorious.