Baseball Bearcats hope to fix clutch hitting slump

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The UC baseball team suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of Eastern Michigan this weekend, but it didn't come without plenty of opportunities to pile on runs. Entering a difficult week against Purdue and Kentucky, finding key hits stands atop the priority list.

By Ashley Davis/Special to

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bearcats' (4-8) offense stalled this weekend as Eastern Michigan (6-9) pitched a shutout Sunday at Marge Schott Stadium, 3-0, thus completing a three-game sweep.

In the first two games of the series, UC let Eastern Michigan bat around the lineup in one inning, including a ninth-inning six-run rally on Saturday and a nine-run inning on Friday.

On Sunday, the offense was non-existent. The Bearcats had only six hits and no player had more than one hit.

But one factor was the same in all three games: leaving runners on base.

"[It's] really been the case all weekend," Cleary says. "We just have not been able to cash in some opportunities, giving away some at-bats in some key situations."

Friday UC left 10 men on base. Saturday, it was eight. Sunday, it was six.

The bottom of the fourth inning Sunday was a perfect example of the Bearcats' inability to get runners home with less than two outs.
After freshman Ian Happ grounded out to start the inning, freshmen Jeff Murray and Woody Wallace both singled. Murray then advanced to third on a wild pitch, but junior Brendon Neel and redshirt freshman Taylor Schmidt struck out back-to-back.

These types of innings were frequent for the Bearcats all weekend. Two players reached base via singles before a fielder's choice and a strikeout snuffed out a threat on Friday. Saturday they left men on base six of the nine innings, including the ninth inning when they were down 7-3.

If there was one good thing to take away from the weekend, however, it was the Bearcats' young pitchers. Redshirt freshman Connor Walsh made his fourth start of the season Friday and pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out five batters.
Mitch Patishall started Sunday and gave up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Cleary was pleased with the freshman's first career start.

"He did a really good job," Cleary says. "He's got some things he can improve on, but certainly he was competitive."

Cleary was also impressed with sophomore Art Warren, who relieved Patishall in the fourth.

"I thought he did a good job, other than his run, the solo home run, and falling behind in the count," he said. "But I thought he made some great pitches."

As the Cats look toward their week with games against two good teams in Purdue and Kentucky, they hope their offense can come to life.

"I feel good about a lot of what's going on," Cleary says. "We're making it very difficult on ourselves with some little things. We've got some of these guys playing more and getting more comfortable in the field."

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