Ninth Inning Comeback Not Enough as Bearcats Fall in Extras to Open Season|
Feb. 16, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. – The University of Cincinnati baseball program scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning to force extra innings, but it was not enough as the Bearcats fell to Elon University 6-5 in 10 innings in the season opener in Raleigh, N.C. Sophomore Colin Hawk (Beech Grove, Ind./Roncalli) drove in the tying run with a single to left field.
EU catcher Danny Lynch hit a single to center field in the bottom of the tenth inning to score Chris King and give the Phoenix the victory.
“The biggest thing this team needs to get out of tonight’s game is that we need to shorten our learning curve and we need to learn some baseball IQ things” said head coach Ty Neal. “Most importantly, we need to show some grit and compete on every single pitch. If we do that, and we did some tonight, but if we do that over the course of this season, we will win a lot of baseball games. I just want them to figure out how good of a feeling winning is.”
Michael Elefante picked up the win for Elon (1-0) while sophomore hurler Grant Walker (Brookeville, Ohio/Northmont) gets the loss for Cincinnati (0-1). Walker otherwise threw a strong outing, going 3.0 innings with four hits and only one earned run.
The Bearcats were trailing 5-2 with two outs in the ninth inning before mounting a furious comeback to tie the game at 5-5 and force extra innings. Redshirt sophomore Will Drake (Fairfield, Ohio/Michigan) got things started for UC with a single to left field and senior Matt Williams (Mason, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian) reached on a costly throwing error by the EU third baseman. Sophomore Ian Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) then drove in two runs with a double to left center field to get the Bearcats to within 5-4. Senior Justin Glass (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll) was hit by a pitch to represent the tying run on first base before Hawk unleashed his single to tie the game.
Happ led the charge for Cincinnati, reaching base safely in all five of his plate appearances. The shortstop collected two hits, including his double in the ninth to begin the comeback, and added two walks and a hit by pitch for a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage and a 1.500 slugging percentage.
Redshirt sophomore Will Drake (Fairfield, Ohio/Michigan) added a hit and a walk to the Cincinnati effort.
Prior to the ninth inning, the Elon pitching staff had limited Cincinnati to just three hits and recorded eight strikeouts.
UC starter Matt Ring (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) finished with 4.0 innings pitched and three earned runs off seven hits but did not walk a batter. Lefty sophomore Mike Conrad (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) and Walker pitched out of the bullpen for Cincinnati.
Elon broke through on the scoreboard first with a three-hit, two-run first inning. Quinn Bower was hit by a pitch, stole second base and scored following a double to right field by Casey Jones. Jones advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a bloop single by Ryan Cooper. Ring had a runner on second and third but worked himself out of the jam with a flyout to end the inning.
The Bearcats got on the board in the fourth inning when back-to-back walks to Williams and Happ put two runners on for Glass with nobody out. Glass hit a double off the center field wall to score Williams from second base, but missed first base on his stride and was later ruled out on an appeal from Elon and not credited with a hit. The Bearcats could not capitalize the rest of the inning, but managed to cut the lead in half with a 2-1 score.
The Phoenix added to the score in the bottom of the fourth when Nick Zammarelli hit a double off the left field fence to score Danny Lynch. Prior to the run, Elon threatened with a double by Lynch, but the relay from Williams to Hawk to catcher Russell Clark (Wexford, Pa./Pine-Richland) was a good one and Clark tagged the runner out at home.
Conrad entered to pitch in the fifth inning and was greeted with a solo homerun by Jones to increase the Elon lead to 4-1. Conrad pitched 2.1 innings and recorded two strikeouts before being chased from the game with one out in the seventh inning after allowing two doubles and another Phoenix run.
Two Elon errors contributed to a UC run in the seventh inning. Senior Ryan Quinn (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) reached on an error by the third baseman and the next UC batter, Drake, sent a fly ball to left field that was mishandled for another Elon error to score Quinn from first.
The Bearcats will play one more game against the Phoenix in Raleigh on Monday before heading back to Cincinnati. The game time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The series against Elon was originally scheduled to be played in Elon, N.C., on the campus of Elon University, but Elon’s field was buried under snow and the games were moved to Raleigh.