The University of Cincinnati’s (UC) baseball team swept the visiting Western Michigan University Broncos in a three-game series this past weekend. The Bearcats pulled through in three tight contests to improve their record to 6-7.
In the first game of the weekend, UC defeated the Broncos 5-1. Bearcat ace Evan Shawver continued his dominance to begin the season, hurling seven shutout innings to lower his earned run average to a measly 1.17. In his longest start of the season, the junior punched out eight while failing to walk a batter.
The Bearcats wasted no time getting on the board as right fielder Jake Murray launched a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. The Bearcats never looked back, adding insurance runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings.
Along with Murray, Wyatt Stapp and Griffin Merritt led the offensive charge for UC, combining six of the Bearcats’ 11 hits.
The Bearcats continued their winning ways on Saturday, taking down Western Michigan 7-5. Unlike the first matchup, it was the Broncos who struck first in game two. The Broncos took advantage of three first-inning walks by UC starter Dean McCarthy, bringing one across on a single by first baseman Sean O’Keefe.
The Bearcats wasted no time in their comeback effort and regained the lead in the bottom of the frame. After third baseman Eric Santiago reached second via a leadoff double and stole third, first baseman Ryan Nicholson drove him home with a sacrifice fly to center field to even the score. After Merritt reached on an error one batter later, Stapp made the Broncos pay for their mistake, singling home shortstop Joey Bellini who walked earlier in the frame.
In the top of the second, McCarthy continued to struggle with his control, allowing the first two hitter to reach on a walk and hit by pitch. After a sacrifice bunt, second baseman Justin McIntyre laced a double to left-center field, driving home both runners to give the Broncos a 3-2 lead.
After leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, the Bearcats struck back in the third on a two-run home run from Stapp, giving them a 4-3 lead that they would never surrender. After McCarthy was pulled in the third inning, the Bearcat bullpen held Western Michigan scoreless until the ninth inning, but a late Bronco two-run home run was not enough as UC secured a series victory.
The Bearcats broke out the brooms on Sunday, defeating the Broncos 5-4 to secure their first series win of the year. Western Michigan jumped on starter Garrett Schoenle for four runs in the first four innings to take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
UC pushed a run across on an RBI groundout by Murray to cut the deficit in half, before taking the lead in the sixth.
After two quick out to start the frame, the Bearcats pounced on Bronco reliever Dane Armbrustmacher. Second baseman Jace Mercer drew a two-out walk despite falling 0-2 in the count and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Catcher Tanner Holen followed with a triple to center field, scoring Mercer and knotting the game at four. One batter later, center fielder, Cole Harting drove a single through the left side to give the Bearcats a lead they would hold on to the rest of the game.
Once again, the Bearcat bullpen locked down the Western Michigan bats. Jalen Wade, Drake Batcho and Zach Segal combined five shutout innings to close the door and seal the victory.
The Bearcats will look to extend their win streak against the Xavier Musketeers in a four-game set. Each team will host two games as a part of the crosstown rivalry. Xavier limps into the series having lost seven of their last eight contests, a trend they will look to break against UC.