When the UConn baseball team stepped onto the field Sunday, the possibility of getting blown out by 17 runs was probably the last thing on their minds.
After making it to the final of the American Athletic Conference Championship for the second straight year, UConn was unable to win for the second straight year. Since the 10-run rule does not apply in the championship game, the two teams played nine long innings before the score settled in favor of Cincinnati 22-5.
Starter Jeff Kersten started out strong, throwing just eight pitches in the first as he turned a grounder back to him into two outs to end the inning. Cincinnati’s starter, David Orndorff got into a bit of trouble in the first, walking Michael Woodworth after an Anthony Prato walk. However, poor at-bats from freshman Pat Winkel and Paul Gozzo left them on base.
UConn went down early, like they did in both games against Wichita State, as Woodworth at second base attempted to make a throw behind Joey Weimer at third base but Weimer scored on the mental error.
The Huskies first and last bright spot of the day came in the form of a Michael Chiovitti RBI-double off the wall in the second, which tied it 1-1.
The pain for UConn started in the top of the third as four out of the first five hitters in the inning singled off Kersten. The sixth batter, Mitch Holding, hit a ball off of the straw covered roof of Frenchy’s restaurant past the seats in left field. Holding’s home run made it 6-1 BearCats. Kersten’s day was done after just 2.2 innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits on 51 pitches.
Despite getting a couple back in the bottom half of the inning, UConn’s day would not get better from there. The Huskies had the opportunity to make it a game, but more lack luster plate appearances resulted in men left on base.
The damage continued from Cincinnati as they scored three more in the fourth to make it 9-3. UConn grabbed one back in the fifth, but it was quickly answered for on a solo home run by Bellini to lead off the sixth.
With a 10-4 lead in the seventh, Cincinatti put the game away with a nine-spot. A leadoff double, followed by a defensive miscue in right from Kyler Fedko, sparked a rally that included: a single, a double, three walks and back-to-back home runs. Jace Mercer sucked the air out of UConn’s day with a grand slam, which was immediately followed by A.J. Bumpass’ solo shot.
Down 19-4, UConn put a few runners on in the 7th and 8th but failed to respond. Cincinnati was not done, however, adding three more in the 9th. The BearCats should have had more in the inning, but their third base coach decided enough was enough and held runners to one base a piece.
Cincinnati’s bats came to play, and UConn’s staff and defense were not able to meet the challenge. When they had the chance offensively to swing the momentum back their way, a few of their hitters rose to the task and patiently produced, but others did not follow suit.
UConn will likely secure an NCAA Tournament nod this week, even without the automatic bid, as the selection show will be at 12 p.m. Monday.
For them the key to make a run in Omaha, Nebraska they will need to learn lessons from this game, but try to have a bit of short-term memory loss and not let it affect them at the next level.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.