Kevin Johnson's two-run home run over the right-center field wall broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the University of Cincinnati a 6-4 win over cross-town foe Xavier on Monday night. Johnson's blast-- his sixth of the season-- soared well beyond the 365 mark on the wall, and capped an exciting night of action in front of 429 fans at Marge Schott Stadium.
The evening began with UC starting pitcher Nick Johnson and XU's Brett Greenwell posting matching zeros for the first three innings. Johnson induced groundball double plays to get out of jams in three of the first four innings. Greenwell yielded four hits but did not allow a base runner to advance past second base over his first four frames.
The right-handed Johnson found himself in trouble in the fourth when he allowed three consecutive singles to start the stanza. The Cincinnati starter induced a groundball double play, with the bases loaded that allowed Sean Farrell to score with the first run of the game.
Xavier added three more off of Johnson in the fifth inning to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Drew Schmidt's sacrifice bunt advanced Adam Pasono and Ryan Bellamy to second and third with one out for Steve Brown. Brown knocked a sacrifice fly that plated Bellamy. After Farrell walked, Bobby Freking doubled down the right field line to clear the bases and extend the lead to 4-0.
Mike Spina, a BIG EAST Conference Honor Roll choice for his play last week, started the UC fifth with a single. After consecutive fly outs, Justin Riddell lifted his first home run of his career over the left field wall to cut the margin in half, at 4-2. Spina finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Greenwell hit Bearcats leadoff batter Tony Campana to start the sixth inning. One batter later, Josh Harrison walked to put runners on first and second for Cameron Satterwhite who singled to center field. Campana crossed the plate on Satterwhite's base hit to cut the deficit to one, at 4-3. After a wild pitch moved Harrison and Satterwhite up one station each, Spina knocked a sacrifice fly that plated Harrison and knotted the game, at 4.
The Musketeers' Joe Kohler started the seventh and combined with Jordan Conley for four innings of shutout relief.
Brian Sand replaced Nick Johnson and spread four Xavier hits over two and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief. Sand slowed the XU momentum until giving up back-to-back singles with one out in the eighth inning. Facing Xavier's best run-scoring opportunity, Jake Geglein coaxed a fly out and caught Pasono looking at strike three to get out of the eighth inning. Geglein worked the next three innings and struck out two while walking two, but did not allow a run.
Spina opened the bottom of the ninth with a double to left-center, and after Kevin Johnson was walked intentionally and Ryan Baker was retired, the stage was set for Riddell to be the hero. With pinch runner Michael Obyc at second base, Riddell ripped a drive to right-center and Pasano hauled in a running catch near the warning track. Obyc took off early from second base and appeared to score the game-winner, before being called out and extending the game to extra innings.
Kyle Cowden entered the game for Xavier to start the 11th and quickly walked Satterwhite. After a fielder's choice put Obyc at first in place of Satterwhite, Kevin Johnson ripped the game-winning hit.
The win marked Cincinnati's second extra-inning decision of the year. UC continues its string of six games in six days on Tuesday when it heads to Athens to face Ohio. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.