Simon was excellent scattering 5 hits in eight innings and giving up only 1 unearned run. Simon had to be good because the Cincinnati defense up the middle was shaky. The keystone combination of Josh Harrison at short and Mark Muscenti at second totaled three of the Bearcats four errors on the day. The Bearcat defense also gave up four stolen bases in five attempts.
Niagara led 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Bearcat offense put pressure on the Purple Eagle defense with 5 hits and some excellent bunting that resulted in numerous UC base runners and two Niagara errors plus a balk. Jack Nelson had the big hit in the inning when he doubled home two runs. Nelson also came on to pitch the ninth inning and promptly struck out the side.
It was an up and down day for freshman shortstop and leading hitter, Josh Harrison. In addition to a throwing error, Josh was twice hit by pitches and was also picked off first base by the Purple Eagle catcher. Josh managed a base hit in three at bats and got the only Bearcat stolen base.
Although there were only about 200 fans that braved the cool temperatures Friday, the Bearcat crowd included some sophisticated hecklers. These Bearcat supporters came armed with internet fact sheets about Purple Eagle players and were not shy about trying to get under the opposition's skin by talking about players' mothers, sisters and batting glove fetishes.
There are a couple additions to UC Baseball Field this year. The walkway outside the stadium has a type of plaque in it recognizing the area as Glenn Sample Way. Also the old replay board from Nippert Stadium has been installed next to the baseball scoreboard. There were no replays, but the board was used for advertisements and to post current statistics for each Bearcat player as he came to bat.
Saturday's game was a pitcher's duel between Niagara's Mike Radanovic (2.70 ERA) and Cincinnati's Kyle Rapp (3.57 ERA). Both will see their ERA's shrink, but Radanovic will get the 1-0 win over the Bearcats.
Radanovic gave up only five hits in getting the complete game victory. Mark Muscenti of UC got two of the hits including a double.
Kyle Rapp pitched seven quality innings giving up one earned run while Sean Munninghoff came on to pitch the final two innings striking out the side in the eighth. Rapp is a very athletic player that showed the ability to field his position well and deserved a better fate. Rapp gave up 1 hit and 1 walk but also hit two batters. It was a hit batsman (Dan Parsons) in the 5th inning that scored the winning run on a Matt Schaeffer double.
UC had its best chance to score in the 2nd innings when Jack Nelson singled and Mark Muscenti's doubled putting Bearcats on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, but UC was unable to score.
The rubber match of the series is tomorrow (Sunday) with a first pitch at 1 p.m. Freshman Steve Blevins will throw for the Bearcats. The Bearcats will be trying to win their third series in a row.