The University of Cincinnati's (UC) baseball team won two out of three games against the Saint Louis University Billikens, pushing their record to 10-10.
The Bearcats combined for a twelve-hit effort on offense with a quality start by pitcher Dean McCarthy to take the weekend's first game over the Billikens 8-4.
After McCarthy pitched a scoreless first, the Bearcats jumped on Billiken starter Matt Boyer for four runs in the bottom half of the frame. After two walks and hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out, left fielder Wyatt Stapp lifted a sac fly to left field to get the Bearcats on the board.
One batter later, the Bearcats pushed another run across on a passed ball. Third baseman Eric Santiago and first baseman Griffin Merritt followed with back-to-back run-scoring singles to stretch the lead to four.
Saint Louis went on to cut the lead in half with solo home runs in the third and fifth innings, but UC responded by pounding four hits and capitalizing on an error to bring home four runs in the bottom of the fifth to pad the lead.
Aside from the pair of solo shots, the Billikens were held in check by McCarthy until he was lifted in favor of Nathan Moore after the seventh inning, who recorded the game's final six outs.
UC secured the series win on Saturday, defeating Saint Louis 8-5 to jump over .500 for the first time in the year.
For the second straight game, the Bearcats recorded double-digit hits, including four home runs, two of which came off the bat of Merritt. The junior first baseman recorded a perfect 4-4 day at the plate to lead the offensive charge that overwhelmed the Saint Louis pitching staff.
Once again, the Bearcats struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on a two-out opposite-field home run by Stapp in the bottom of the first.
The Billikens would strike back in the third, using three singles and a sacrifice fly to go on top 2-1 for their first lead of the series.
UC wasted no time responding, as center fielder Cole Harting crushed the Bearcats' second solo home run of the game in the bottom half of the inning.
After each team pushed across a run in the fourth, the Bearcats took the lead for good with a three-spot in the sixth behind Merritt's second home run of the game and a two-run single by right fielder Paul Komistek.
The Bearcats added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on four consecutive singles from designated hitter Joey Bellini, Stapp, Merritt and shortstop Jake Hansen.
Jackson Murphy picked up the win for UC, tossing two shutout innings to relieve starter Garrett Schoenle.
Saint Louis broke out on offense in the final game of the weekend, scoring multiple runs in six consecutive innings on their way to a 21-6 drubbing of the Bearcats.
After the Bearcats took the lead in the first inning for the third straight game on a throwing error by Saint Louis pitcher Trevor Harris, the Billikens sent 10 men to the plate in the second, scoring six runs, all with two outs.
The inning started innocently as UC starter Drake Batcho retired the first two batters on seven pitches. Batcho then began to struggle with his control, walking the next four batters before being relieved by Zach Segal. A hit batsman, two-run single and two-run double later, the Bearcats found themselves staring at a five-run deficit.
UC responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame, but the Saint Louis offensive onslaught proved to be too much for the Bearcats.
The Bearcats will face their toughest test of the season as they host the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals. Redshirt junior Jalen Wade will get the start for the Bearcats, his first since a 2018 appearance against the University of South Florida.
The contest will be the 183rd between the schools, with the Cardinals leading the series 101-81 and winners of 14 of the last 15 meetings against the Bearcats.