The University of Cincinnati baseball team swept Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in a three-game series this weekend, outscoring EMU 35-9 over the set at Marge Schott Stadium to improve its record to 7-7.
The storyline of the weekend was the performance of sophomore starting pitcher Evan Shawver. In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, the sophomore came within two outs of a no-hitter as Shawver did not yield a hit until there was one out in the ninth; the hit was an infield single to second base.
Shawver recovered to strike out the next hitter before head coach Scott Googins made a pitching change due to his high pitch count. Shawver also tallied 12 strikeouts, equaling his career high.
Shawver was keyed-in on the strike zone, throwing 70 of his 112 pitches for strikes.
“My fastball command worked really well today, and I had great defense behind me,” Shawver said postgame.
Early in the game, Shawver used his fastball to attack the EMU hitters to get ahead in the count and then changed tactics in the later innings, ensuring that he was not being too predictable with his pitch sequencing.
“I kind of tried to switch things up,” Shawver said. “I [felt] like they’re sitting on [the fastball] second time through the rotation, so I tried to mix in the off-speed on that first pitch to kind of get them guessing.”
Googins had nothing but praise for his starter after the game.
“He pitched really well today,” he said. “[He] gave us an unbelievable start…It was great to see him to be able to perform like he did today.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bearcats were led by junior shortstop Jake Hansen and redshirt senior center fielder Jeremy Johnson who combined to drive in five of UC’s subsequent total of eight run’s while EMU finished the first game with one.
In the second game of the doubleheader, UC started off slow, trailing 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. They responded effectively, scoring two runs on an RBI single by senior third baseman Eric Santiago.
“The bats were a little quiet early on,” Googins said. “I thought when we answered back in the fourth inning was big. I thought it was big to cut into that lead”
After EMU tacked on a run in the top of the fifth to make it 4-2, the Bearcats broke the game open an inning later scoring seven runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The rally started innocently with a one-out infield single by Santiago. Sophomore right fielder Paul Komistek then drove him in with a double down the right field line to cut the lead to one. Freshman catcher Cam Scheler followed Komistek’s double with his first collegiate hit, a single to left field, allowing Komistek to run home and tie the game.
After EMU walked two hitters to load the bases, junior left fielder Joey Wiemer laced a single to center field, scoring two runs and putting UC up 6-4. Sophomore first basemen Griffin Merritt drew a walk to load the bases once again, and junior DH Wyatt Stapp followed with a double to stretch the lead to 9-4.
The offensive explosion continued in the seventh as UC plated four more runs on homers by Komistek, Johnson and Wiemer.
EMU scored two runs in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as the Bearcats took the game 13-6, sweeping the doubleheader.
UC continued its hot hitting in the final game of the series on Sunday, outscoring EMU 14-2.
Sophomore starting pitcher Drake Batcho was dominant, pitching six shutout innings while striking out nine batters, his career high.
“It was great to see Batch do that,” Googins said. “He’s got electric stuff and when he’s around the zone good things happen.”
The Bearcats struck first blood in the bottom of the fourth inning with three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. Redshirt sophomore shortstop Dondrae Bremner and Johnson drew back-to-back walks, each scoring a run. Then senior second baseman Jace Mercer followed with a single, scoring another run and pushing the lead to 3-0.
Just like in the second game, UC broke the game open with another big offensive inning, scoring nine in the bottom of the fifth behind an error, two more bases-loaded walks, a two-run double from Wiemer, a two-run single from catcher Joe Powell, and a two-run homer from Santiago.
The Bearcats have victories in seven of their last eight games and will look to continue their hot streak when they face off against Indiana Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana, at 4 p.m.