Bearcats Drop Series Finale To Irish

The Bearcats lost the third game of the three game series to Notre Dame by a 9-5 score but won their first Big East series of the season. Cincinnati is now 17-14 overall.

Losing to Notre Dame by a 9-5 score was bad enough, but the Bearcats left 17 runners on base Saturday in bone chilling cold weather.  The weather became a part of the story as 231 rabid or foolish fans braved the snow flurries and wind chill for three and a half hours.  Fans were either wrapped in blankets or huddled next to walls trying to escape the Arctic winds, but when I counted spectators at the end of the game, there were fewer than fifty remaining.  Coach Cleary did not use the cold weather as an excuse for the loss, but it may have played a major part in the two teams combining for 7 errors, 14 walks and 2 hit batsmen.  "It was tough, but it was tough for both teams.  It was certainly a challenge, and that was about as cold as I've ever been on a field.  You kind of saw both teams unable to handle the ball at times." 


Coach Cleary summarized a frustrating afternoon.  "I think we got outpitched.  That's what happened.  We didn't get a good enough performance on the mound, and we left 17 guys on base.  I thought we played hard, but we had the wrong guys up a couple times when we had guys on base.  I thought they pitched better, and we couldn't come up with the timely hit."


In the 7th inning with the Bearcats down 4 runs, Coach Cleary pitch hit Kyle Rapp for Brian Szarmach.  The move worked as Rapp singled to leadoff the inning.  Ryan Baker hitting .210 was the next Bearcat hitter, but Coach Cleary chose to let Baker hit for himself instead of using another pinch hitter.  Coach Cleary explained his strategy after the game.  "I thought about it, but we're just so limited behind the plate.  It's a tough situation, and I've gone back and forth on it.  Not having Baker back there is going to make it fairly easy for some other teams to score by moving runners up.  It's not like we had anyone on our bench that I felt was really hot.  Rapp was and we used him.  Baker hasn't given us much offense but neither has anyone else on the bench."


-The game was quite colorful as the Bearcats used their red jerseys for the third game in a row while Notre Dame wore its green tops.


-The ground crew was greeted in the morning with the field covered in snow.


-Notre Dame's starter, Kyle Weiland, made his first start of the season.  He was the Irish closer last year and was chosen as the Big East's "Preseason Pitcher of the Year" for 2007.  Weiland lasted 3+ innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits.


-This season has been a difficult one for the Irish.  After losing their coach, Paul Mainieri, to LSU, the Irish hired Dave Schrage from Evansville.  Coach Schrage tragically and unexpectedly lost his wife to cancer in January. 


-The Irish were picked by a number of publications to finish first in the Big East despite losing six of their regulars and all three of their weekend starting pitchers. 


-After today's victory, the Irish have a losing record of 14-16.  The last time Notre Dame had a losing record for the season was 1987.  Since then, the Irish have had 40 win seasons in all but 2005 when they won 38 games.


-Assistant coach Brad Meador has been coaching 3rd base since the second game of the Georgetown series.  In the past Coach Cleary has usually coached third base.  The Bearcats won that Saturday game and had won 4 of 5 with Meador on third. 


-Tony Campana made the best two defensive plays of the game.  In the third inning, Campana raced into left center field to make a diving catch for the first out of the inning.  Campana also threw out a runner at the plate trying to score from second base on a hit in the 9th inning. 


-The wind was really blowing in from left field.  I've never seen outfielders playing so shallow.  To illustrate the point, an errant Frisbee from Sheakley Lawn landed in left center field.  It took Campana three tries to get the Frisbee back over the fence to its owners as the wind kept blowing it back onto the playing field.


-One of South Florida's pitchers is Davis Bilardello.  Cincinnati Reds' fans may remember the name as his father, Dann, was a catcher for the Reds in the early 80's.


The Bearcats have a busy week next week.  They play Marshall at home on Monday and Xavier at Marge Schott Field on Wednesday.  Both games start at 6:30.  Cincinnati heads to West Virginia on Thursday for their weekend series with the Mountaineers.  Also, Bearcat Insider will be meeting with Coach Cleary on Tuesday if anyone has any questions he/she wants answered.

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