May 21, 2011
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati baseball team clinched a berth to the 2011 BIG EAST Championship after defeating University of Connecticut 7-4 Saturday at Marge Schott Stadium.
Fittingly, Cincinnati (30-25, 14-13 BIG EAST) received clutch performances from a number of its seniors to cap off a picturesque Senior Day.
Senior right-handed pitcher Dan Jensen (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) held UConn's offense in check for most of the game. The 6-foot-8 hurler allowed just two runs in six innings pitched, while striking out seven Huskies. Jensen retired the side in order three out of six innings.
Offensively, the Bearcats were paced by senior shortstop Chris Peters (Tipp City, Ohio/Tipp City), who batted 3-for-5 with 1 run and 1 RBI.
UC scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Junior second baseman Sam Vandenheuvel (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Peters recorded back-to-back bunt singles towards the first-base line. A throwing error by UConn 2B L.J. Mazzilli on Peters' bunt gave UC runners on second and third with one out. The ensuing batter, freshman DH Justin Glass (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll), hit a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in Vandenheuvel and giving the Bearcats a 1-0 lead.
UConn briefly took the lead in the top of the fifth after pushing two runners across home plate. UConn LF Billy Ferriter hit an RBI triple to left-center field, followed by a RBI bunt single from RF John Andreoli that gave the Huskies a 2-1 advantage.
The Bearcats broke through in the bottom half of the fifth. After Vandenheuvel hit an infield single to third base, Peters smacked a double to right field and Glass walked to load the bases with one out. Facing an 0-2 count, senior outfielder Justin Riddell (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Vandenheuvel and tying the score 2-2.
In the next at-bat, junior left fielder Braden Kline
(Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw Community) smoked a double down the left-field line, driving in two runs. Junior first baseman Nic Spence
(Victoria, Australia/St. Joseph's) followed suit with an RBI double of his own, making the score 5-2 in favor of UC.
Cincinnati produced two insurance runs late to separate from UConn. Peters added an RBI double in the sixth inning that increased Cincinnati's lead to 6-2. Spence gave the Bearcats a five-run advantage in the seventh when he clubbed a 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall for his fifth home run of the season.
Sophomore righty Andrew Strenge (Yardley, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep) relieved Jensen in the seventh inning. After retiring the side in order in the seventh and eighth, Strenge surrendered a two-run homer to UConn catcher Doug Elliot in the ninth before finishing off the game with consecutive groundball outs, picking up his first-career save.
With the win, the Bearcats earned the No. 7 seed at the BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla. and will play No. 2 seed St. John's University at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.