Bearcats Open Key Series With Win Over Rutgers|
April 13, 2006
CINCINNATI, Ohio---Brian Szarmach's RBI single in the eighth inning put Cincinnati ahead to stay as the Bearcats opened a three-game BIG EAST series with a 6-5 win over Rutgers on Thursday night at the UC Baseball Stadium. Szarmach's hit, coupled with a career outing from Steve Blevins gave Cincinnati its 20th win of the year and 12th consecutive home victory.
Blevins pitched 8.1 innings to pick up his sixth win of the year against just three losses. The victory ties Blevins for the second-highest win total ever recorded by a true freshman hurler at UC. The Louisa, Ky. native struck out four and walked four in a career-long outing.
The Bearcats improve to 20-12 overall and even their BIG EAST record at 5-5 with the win. Rutgers slides to 14-15-1 and 5-5 in league play.
After Rutgers tied the game in the top of the eighth inning, Mark Muscenti ripped a one out double to right center in the bottom half of the frame to put the go-ahead run on second. Adam Yeager bunted Muscenti over, setting the stage for Szarmach's heroics. The junior, who entered the game hitting just .188, came through in the clutch, lining a Joe Baione offering back up the middle for the game-winning run.
In the ninth, the gritty Blevins returned to the mound, retiring one batter, before walking Victor Cegles. That brought A.J. Upton out of the Bearcat bullpen and the UC closer finished off the final two outs for his fifth save of the year.
Cincinnati got its scoring started with a bang as two hit batsman and a walk in the second inning by Rutgers' starter Steve Holt loaded the bases for Nick Maragas. Cincinnati's junior catcher came up big, ripping his third home run of the year, a grand slam, to deep left field.
Rutgers came back within a run in a wild third inning. Cegles got the scoring going when he knocked a two-run triple inside the right field line. After a strikeout and a walk to Frank Meade, the Scarlet Knights had runners on the corners with two outs. Meade made a move to steal second but was caught in a rundown and appeared to be tagged out by shortstop Adam Yeager. But the first base umpire ruled Meade safe, while Cegles scampered home with the third Rutgers run. Following a Ryan Hill single, Blevins managed to pick the Knights' runner off at first for the final out.
The Bearcats would score again in the last of the fourth as Szarmach banged a bullet off the right field wall that scored Muscenti. Rutgers came back with a run in the sixth courtesy of a Chris Hook home run, then tied the game in the eighth when Tim Querns singled home Hill.
Muscenti and Szarmach each collected two hits for UC, which totaled eight. Muscenti scored three runs, while Szarmach drove home two. Maragas added four RBI, all courtesy of the grand slam.
Rutgers got a 4 for 4 day from Querns, while Hill collected two hits. Holt (4-4) was saddled with the loss after allowing six runs and seven hits in 7.1 innings of action.
Game two of the series is set for Friday, with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on tap. It will be a pair of lefties towing the rubber as UC goes with freshman Dan Osterbrock and Rutgers counters with senior Matt Pustay.