After finishing off the conclusion of yesterday's walk-fest by beating South Florida, 9-4, the University of Cincinnati managed to keep the bats warm despite the frigid temperatures, beating the Bulls 7-4 in the backend of the quasi-double dip.
The Bearcats improve to 14-10 (2-3) in the Big East with the pair of victories, while the Bulls drop to .500 on the season at 14-14 (5-3) in the Big East. The two victories give Cincinnati their first-ever wins in the Big East Conference. With their pair of victories UC also put an end to an ugly four-game losing streak (UConn (3) and Miami (OH)), the last three games of the streak totaling a three-run deficit.
Game one of the series saw the Bearcats take advantage of 10 USF walks and numerous offensive and defensive blunders that are unlikely to show up on the stat sheet en route to a 9-4 win, the program's first ever as a member of the Big East. Though the game was put on hold in the middle of the sixth with the Bearcats leading by two, 6-4, due to inclement weather, the UC bats could not be stopped. The Bearcats pounded out 10 hits (in addition to the 10 walks), three of which went for extra bases. Jon DeLuca was responsible for all three of the extra-base hits, connecting on three doubles (8) (a career-high and team record). DeLuca, who before today had never hit any of his then 37 career doubles in the same game, continued his personal hot strike, leading the Bearcat charge with his gap power by driving in four runs (16). DeLuca was 3-for-4 on the day with a walk, improving his average to .364.
UC hurler Glen Simon struggled on Friday night but did complete all six innings. Possibly unable to get a good feel for the ball due to the cold temperature, Simon reverted to early-season form by dishing out six free passes and allowing four runs to cross home plate (three earned). Despite his struggled, the Florida State transfer managed to grind out the difficult circumstances and pick up his fifth win as a Bearcat (5-2), only allowing three hits and seemed near un-hittable, despite not possessing his good fastball (one strikeout).
Sean Munninghoff came into close the door the next day (how strange is that to say?), tossing three innings of no-hit baseball for the Scott Williamson-like (former Cincinnati Red who was notorious for his lengthy relief appearances) save, his first of the season.
Game two of the series saw freshman hurler Steve Blevins earn his stripes (or whiskers, as Bearcats do not have stripes) on the mound by pitching his best outing of his young career. The Bearcats opening day starter threw 137 pitches on the day, fanning five, while allowing just four runs on eight hits. While the numbers are not startling by any stretch of the imagination, the most powerful moment of the start came in the top-half of the seventh after the youngster gave up a two-run homerun to the Bulls leadoff man Ty Taborelli (1) to cut the lead to three, 7-4. While most fans (and the press box) expected UC skipper, Brian Cleary, to go to A.J. Upton, the Bearcat skipper waited and showed great confidence in the young man from Louisa, KY, Cleary allowed the youngster to finish what he started and record the final two outs against the top of the USF lineup. Cleary then went to Upton who would pick up his fourth save of the season with two innings of shutout work.
At the plate, UC saw an equally impressive overall team performance. As a team, the Bearcats pounded out 13 hits, three for extra bases, and walked six times collectively.
Leading the offensive attack for the Bearcats was the combo of DeLuca and Logan Parker. DeLuca chipped in two RBI and two hits, while Parker went 3-for-4 (.326) with a double (6) and a triple (4), while picking up his 32 RBI.
The Bearcats will return to action Sunday at noon (time changed from 1 pm due to possible rain in the area) as they look to wrap-up the three-game inaugural Big East weekend home stand with a series sweep of South Florida.