May 24, 2008
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The University of Cincinnati baseball team had its run at its first BIG EAST Conference Championship cut just short, as the University of Louisville came from behind and won 6-3 this afternoon in the championship game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The Bearcats, as they had done in the previous three tournament games, put the first runs of the game on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as junior third baseman Mike Spina (Newberry, Fla./Florida CC) planted his third homerun of the tournament, a two-run shot, on to the roof of the tiki hut above the leftfield wall. The homer was his 20th of the year, sending him past UC Hall of Famer Kevin Youkilis for the school's single-season record.
Louisville broke through with their first run of the game in the top of the sixth, scratching together a dropped third strike, one hit, a sacrifice and a groundout to make the score 2-1.
Cincinnati got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Spina, the Bearcats' offensive star of the tournament, blasted his eighth homerun in his last eight games and his fourth of the tournament deep over the left field wall. His four homeruns equaled the BIG EAST Tournament record set by Isaiah Howes of Louisville in 2004.
The home run would also be UC's only hit over the last five innings of the game as Louisville pitchers retired 15 of the final 17 Bearcats they faced.
The Cardinals' offense tied the game in the seventh inning at 3-3 with a pair of runs off starter Dan Osterbrock (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) who threw seven innings of three-run, seven-strikeout baseball.
Louisville took their first lead of the game in the eighth, 6-3, scoring three runs off Michael Hill (6-4) (Proctorville, Ohio/East Carolina), who was throwing on two days rest after beating USF on Tuesday. Jake Geglein (Cincinnati, Ohio/McNicholas) pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Bearcats, allowing two hits and striking out one.
The loss leaves Cincinnati (39-20) in search of one of the NCAA Tournament's at-large bids. The 64-team field will be announced Monday, May 26 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. An at-large bid would put UC in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1974.
Four Bearcats earned BIG EAST All-Tournament nods, tying for the most by one team - Mike Spina (3B), Ryan Baker (C), Jamel Scott (OF), and Josh Harrison (2B).