The University of Cincinnati’s (UC) baseball team split a four-game series against the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Seahawks last weekend, pushing the Bearcats record to 3-7.
The first game of the set went the way of the Seahawks, who rode their lineup to a 14-10 victory. UNCW raced out to an 8-0 lead against UC’s Drake Batcho, who was making his first start of the season. The Seahawks wasted no time getting on the board, plating their first run two batters into the game after a bunt single by leadoff hitter Brooks Baldwin who came around on a double by second baseman Jac Croom.
UNCW plated three runs in the third, followed by two more in the fourth to stretch the lead to eight. In the top of the fifth, the Bearcat bats woke up, erupting for seven runs to cut the deficit to one.
After second baseman Jace Mercer started the rally with a single up the middle, catcher Joe Powell smashed a two-run home run over the center-field fence. After back-to-back hits by Eric Santiago and Cole Harting, shortstop Joey Bellini recorded a single scoring both runners. Two doubles and a walk later, the Bearcats found themselves trailing by just one run.
The Seahawks responded quickly in the bottom half of the inning, recording three insurance runs to push the lead to 11-7 and never looked back.
UC bounced back on Friday, evening the series with a 7-4 victory. The game got off to a rough start for the Bearcats, as UNCW jumped on starter Evan Shawver with four runs in the first inning behind a leadoff home run from Baldwin and a pair of RBI singles.
UC chipped away at the 4-0 deficit with an RBI single by Mercer in the second inning before taking the lead for good in the third. Harting kicked off the frame with a leadoff home run to center field, cutting the deficit to 4-2. After a single and two walks loaded the base for Wyatt Stapp, the designated hitter crushed a double to left-center field, clearing the bases and pushing UC into the lead.
After the first inning hiccup that saw him surrender his first runs of the season, the Shawver responded by holding the Seahawks scoreless through the sixth inning before passing the torch to sophomore Zach Segal. Segal picked up where Shawver left off, tossing three shutout innings to record his first save of the season.
UC added insurance runs in the fifth and eighth on solo home runs from first baseman Ryan Nicholson and Mercer.
In the third game of the series, UC overcame a four-run deficit for the second consecutive game to defeat UNCW 5-4. After falling behind 4-0 in the fourth inning, the Bearcats came to life in the sixth, tallying four runs to knot the score.
UC took advantage of an error by Seahawks’ shortstop, which allowed Joey Bellini to reach first to start the inning. Stapp and Mercer then recorded singles to load the bases. Catcher Tanner Holen followed with a double, scoring Bellini and Mercer. Two batters later, Harting roped a two-out single to center field, tying the game.
With the score still knotted at four in the top of the ninth inning, left fielder Jake Murray smashed a home run over the center-field wall, giving the Bearcats their first lead of the game. The lead would prove to be enough as Beau Keathley shut down UNCW in the bottom of the frame, solidifying a second straight win for UC.
The Bearcats looked poised for their first series of the year after jumping out to an 8-0 lead behind home runs from Santiago, Powell and Harting, along with four RBIs from Stapp. However, the Seahawks scored nine unanswered runs to claim a dramatic victory that culminated in a walk-off home run by left fielder Trevor Marsh in the ninth inning.
Garrett Schoenle got the nod for the Bearcats and recorded his best start of the season, yielding just one run in five innings of work while striking out 11. Once Schoenle was pulled from the game, UNCW jumped on the Bearcat bullpen, scoring eight runs across the final three frames.
The Bearcats will make their home debut this weekend for a three-game series against Western Michigan University (0-3). Tickets are available for each home game as 1,000 spectators will be allowed in UC Baseball Stadium.