Feb. 16, 2013
BOCA RATON, Fla. — The University of Cincinnati baseball team dropped its 2013 season opener against Florida Atlantic University 9-2 Saturday afternoon at FAU Baseball Stadium.
Freshman first baseman Ian Happ led the Bearcats offense after hitting 1 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs. UC freshman third baseman Devin Wenzel went 2 for 4 with one run scored.
Bearcats redshirt junior right-hander Christian McElroy started the ballgame and saw his day end after allowing five total runs (three earned) on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout in 3 1-3 innings pitched.
Florida Atlantic lefty Austin Gomber, a preseason all-Sun Belt Conference selection, pitched as advertised after surrendering just two runs and four hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
Florida Atlantic scored two unearned runs in the bottom half of the first inning to take the early lead. A tailor-made inning-ending double play ground ball to shortstop Colin Hawk was mishandled and gave the Owls runners on first and second with one out. After a walk loaded the bases, FAU right fielder Corey Keller lined a ball off the glove of Wenzel, who was playing in, and drove in the Owls first run. Their second run came when catcher Mike Spano grounded out to third base on a 5-3 putout.
In the bottom of the third frame, FAU designated hitter Levi Meyer put the Bearcats in a three-run hole after belting a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall for the first home run of the season for either team. The Owls added a second run with one out in the third when Spano drove in first baseman Mark Nelson with a single through the right side of the infield.
Happ’s first career home run in the top of the fourth inning cut Cincinnati’s deficit in half to 4-2. With one out, Wenzel singled up the middle. Two batters later, Happ crushed the first offering from Gomber over the left-field wall for a two-run longball.
Meyer slapped a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to put FAU in front 5-2. With one out, Owls center fielder Nathan Pittman singled up the middle and then stole second base, which set up Meyer’s blooper to center field – his third hit of the ballgame – and allowed Pittman to cross the plate.
McElroy was pulled following the Meyer RBI in place of true freshman left-handed pitcher Mike Conrad, who got the Bearcats out of the inning after snagging a line drive hit up the middle and tossing to first base for a 1-3 double play.
FAU broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After pitching 1 2-3 innings, Conrad was relieved by redshirt sophomore Matt Ring with no outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth inning. A passed ball on Ring’s third pitch moved runners to second and third before getting Meyer to foul out to UC freshman catcher Woody Wallace with a 3-0 count. Facing a full count, Nelson loaded the bases after getting hit by a pitch, which set up a two-run double to left field by left fielder Tyler Rocklein. Keller followed suit with a two-run double of his own and all of a sudden the Bearcats found themselves trailing 9-2.
Conrad went 1 2-3 innings and was credited with two earned runs on two hits, while Ring lasted one inning before surrendering a pair of scores on two hits.
Making his pitching debut for the Bearcats in the bottom of the seventh was freshman right-hander Mitch Patishall, who pitched two scoreless frames with one strikeout.
Game 2 of Cincinnati’s three-game series at FAU is set to begin at approximately 3 p.m. UC senior RHP Andrew Strenge will make his first start of the season.