May 16, 2010
CINCINNATI – For the second time in as many weeks, freshman Andrew Strenge earned the start in a crucial Sunday game against a ranked opponent, and the Yardley, Pa., native went 8.0 innings, surrendered eight hits, one unearned run, and struck out a career-high nine batters to lead the University of Cincinnati baseball team to a 3-1 win over No. 22 Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon at Marge Schott Stadium.
Strenge held the Panthers, who entered the week ranked third nationally in runs per game, to one run, their lowest scoring output since losing to Rutgers, 6-1, on April 2.
The freshman was relieved in the ninth inning by senior Andrew Burkett, who struck out two and forced a pop out to pick up his single-season school-record breaking 13th save of the season. Burkett broke Shannon Morgan’s single-season saves record of 12 saves set during the 1995 campaign.
Strenge kept the Panthers off balance and did not allow a runner past second base until the sixth inning when Pittsburgh’s John Schultz reached third base with two outs. During the next at-bat, a UC error allowed Schultz to cross home plate putting PITT on top, 1-0.
The Bearcats got that run back in their half of the sixth inning when senior Jimmy Jacquot belted a two-out, solo home run over the wall in left field, his team-leading 12th round-tripper of the season, knotting the score at one.
Pittsburgh tried to put the pressure on Strenge with a lead-off single in the seventh, but Strenge retired the next three batters in the seventh and set down the side in order in the eighth, giving his teammates a chance to take a lead in the bottom half of the eighth.
UC looked to be headed to the ninth inning tied at one after its first two batters in the eighth inning were retired, but an infield single by sophomore T.J. Jones followed by a four-pitch walk to Jacquot put runners on first and second base with two outs. On a two-balls, two-strike pitch, junior Justin Riddell cleared the bases with a double off the wall in center field giving Cincinnati its first lead of the three-game series at 3-1.
In the ninth, Burkett quickly retired the first two batters, before a single up the middle by Travis Whitmore brought the tying run to the plate in Cory Brownsten. Brownsten worked a full-count on Burkett, but Burkett struck Brownsten out swinging to preserve the two-run win and pick up his school-record 13th save.
The save not only cemented Burkett as Cincinnati’s single-season saves leader, but moved him into sole possession of third place on UC’s all-time saves list with 14 career saves.
Seven players recorded hits for the Bearcats and the heart of the order in Jacquot and Riddell combined to drive in all three runs.
Strenge picked up his team-leading sixth win of the season and has now picked up wins over No. 20 Connecticut and No. 22 Pittsburgh in his last two starts. During that stretch, he has pitched 17.0 innings, struck out 15 without relinquishing a walk, and given up three unearned runs.
The win improved Cincinnati’s record to 3-5 against Top 25 teams this season, while upping its overall record to 26-27 and its conference record to 10-14. Pittsburgh dropped to 36-14 overall and 17-6 in league play.
The Bearcats have three days off before welcoming Georgetown University to Marge Schott Stadium for their final BIG EAST Conference series of the 2010 season. The Bearcats enter the final weekend tied for seventh in the league standings with Notre Dame. The top eight teams advance to the BIG EAST Conference Baseball Tournament May 26-30 at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Fla. The series between the Hoyas and the Bearcats begins on Thursday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m.