Baseball Sports

Baseball looks to preserve conference lead in Cincy

Junior starting pitcher Aaron Fletcher will likely take to the mound in game two of the Cincinnati Bearcats series as the Cougars look to preserve their unbeaten conference record. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The baseball team looks to bounce back after a tough loss to the Rice Owls as it travels to face the Cincinnati Bearcats in a three game series.

The 4-3 loss to Rice snapped an eight game winning streak for the Cougars. During the streak, the Cougars swept the Memphis Tigers and won single games against the New Mexico Lobos, Lamar Cardinals and Prairie View A&M Panthers. The sweep of the Tigers has them at first place in the American Athletic Conference.

Now they face a Bearcats team coming off a losing series to the Tulane Green Wave.

Both teams had somewhat shaky starts to the season. The Cougars, even with the loss to Rice, overcame much of their early season woes with their eight game win streak and now sit at 16-9. On the other hand, the Bearcats did not even have a winning record, sitting just below .500 at 10-12.

However, the Bearcats are better than their record shows, as five of the team’s 12 losses have been by only a single run. Regardless, the Cougars need to watch out for a couple of their sluggers: infielder Manny Rodriguez and outfielder A.J. Bumpass.

Rodriguez has a team-leading .326 batting average with three home runs and 16 runs batted in on the season. Bumpass has a slightly lower batting average at .234, but is leading the team in home runs with four in addition to 12 RBIs.

The Cougars have a lethal trio of batters to call their own with junior designated hitter Joe Davis and sophomore utility player Lael Lockhart Jr. and infielder Jared Triolo. Davis leads the team with a .355 batting average, while Triolo and Lockhart are not far behind at .354 and .330 respectively. The trio account for just over half of the team’s RBIs.

Neither junior pitchers Trey Cumbie or Aaron Fletcher played against Rice, so it is safe to assume they will be starting the first two games in the series. Fletcher leads the team with an ERA of 0.95, while Cumbie is the team leader in strikeouts.

Nathan Kroger will likely start pitching for the Bearcats. He’s given up six home runs this season, the most of any Cincinnati pitcher.

If Jarod Yoakam pitches any games in the series, the Cougars will have their work cut out for them. Yoakam has an unblemished ERA of 0.00 in 15.1 innings pitched, and he’s the only pitcher on the Bearcats with a winning record at 4-0.

The series will start on Friday at Marge Schott Stadium at the University of Cincinnati with a doubleheader. The Thursday night game, originally the first for the series, was canceled due to inclement weather. The first pitch for game one is scheduled for 12 p.m., with game two to be announced.

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