Led by a strong starting performance by right handed pitcher Ty Olenchuk, the Tigers defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats again on Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, 5-2, giving the Tigers the series win in their first action of the season. Redshirt freshman pitcher Geoffrey Gilbert picked up a six-out save for his efforts on the mound.
Olenchuk started the day by retiring the side in order, the seventh such inning for Tigers’ pitchers in the series to that point.
In the bottom of the first, the Tigers struck early. Third baseman Blake Wright led off the game for the Tigers with a 1-2 single over the third base bag. Two consecutive groundouts to the Bearcats’ second basemen moved Wright around to score, with left fielder Elijah Henderson picking up the game’s first RBI.
Olenchuk again retired the Bearcats in order in the second. In the bottom of the second, the Tigers also went quietly, with second baseman Pierce Gallo the sole baserunner of the inning.
Olenchuk returned to the mound in the top of the third, and quickly retired the first batter he faced. The Bearcats picked up their first hit of the day off the bat of center fielder Nick Murray, who bunted back to Olenchuk and reached base without a throw. Murray advanced to third following the bunt single by stealing second and advancing on a wild pitch. Olenchuk rebounded with a strikeout and an induced groundout, to end the inning with no damage done.
The next inning and half saw the teams exchange 1-2-3 innings, with the only base runner being the Tigers’ shortstop James Parker who reached on a single, but was thrown out attempting to steal second to end the fourth inning.
The top of fifth quickly saw Olenchuk dig himself into a hole, allowing a single to Bearcats’ third baseman Eric Santiago and hitting left fielder Griffin Merritt with a pitch that ran too far inside. Cather Jonathan French bailed Olenchuk out by throwing Santiago out stealing following a ball in the dirt, picking up the Tigers’ first out of the inning with just a runner on second. Olenchuk induced a fly ball out to right field, and ended his day with 4 ⅔ innings pitched, including three strikeouts. Evan Estridge came on to pick up the last out of the fifth inning, also inducing a fly ball to right field.
The Tigers quickly loaded the base on Bearcats’ starter Dean McCarthy in his fifth inning of work. Hawkins and Gallo singled and Grice drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases for the Tigers. Teodosio singled to center field to drive in the Tigers’ second run of the game and leave the bases loaded with no outs. Wright picked up an RBI on a base-loaded walk to stretch the Tigers’ lead to three runs. McCarthy finally picked up his first out of the inning when right fielder Dylan Brewer hit a sacrifice fly into right field, plating the Tigers fourth run of the game. McCarthy exited the game following Brewer’s sacrifice fly. He exited the game after 4 ⅓ innings pitched, giving up five hits and 2 walks. The Bearcats’ next pitcher, Jalen Wade, faced just one batter, Elijah Henderson, who hit into an inning-ending 5-3 double play.
The Bearcats struck in the top of the sixth, off the bat of right fielder Paul Komistek, a ball that just barely cleared the 390-foot wall in dead center field. Theoosio had a read on the ball and scaled the wall, even getting a glove on the ball, but was unable to pull the ball back into the yard, giving the Bearcats their first run of the series. Estridge retired the next two batters before giving up a four-pitch walk. After falling behind to the next batter, Estridge threw three strikes to end the inning on a swinging strikeout.
The Tigers appeared to have the makings of a productive inning in the bottom of the sixth when Parker reached on a walk from new pitcher Drake Batcho. French popped out to second, a ball which was dropped but thrown to second to get Parker on a fielder's choice. Hawkins lined back to Batcho who doubled up the Tigers at first to end the inning.
Estridge found himself in a jam after allowing back-to-back doubles down the left field line to start the seventh inning. The Bearcats picked up their second run of the day and Estridge’s day was over after 1 ⅓ innings pitched and one earned run. Rasesh Pandya entered the game for the Tigers with no outs in the seventh inning and retired the next three batters to keep the damage minimal for the Tigers.
The bottom of the seventh was uneventful, seeing the Tigers go down quietly in order.
The top of the eighth was similar as Pandya was replaced by left handed pitcher Geoffrey Gilbert at the beginning of the half inning. Gilbert allowed one hit to the Bearcats’ leadoff hitter, and retired the next three batters, picking up two strikeouts along the way.
The Tigers started their one-out rally in the bottom of the eighth with back-to-back walks by Brewer and Henderson. A line drive off the bat of Parker almost landed to plate another run, but was caught and held the runners at first and second with two outs. French brought Brewer around to score on a ground ball through the left side of the infield. The Bearcats threw Hawkins out at first after a check-swing hit to the shortstop that appeared at first to hit Hawkins. The inning ended with the Tigers picking up the single run, bringing the score to 5-2 heading into the ninth inning.
Gilbert retired the first two batters of the ninth inning before giving up a single to Bearcats’ catcher Tanner Holen, who advanced to second when Brewer bobbled the ball in right-center field. However, Gilbert picked up his second strikeout of the inning on the next at-bat, ending the game and recording his first save of the season.
The Tigers return to action tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 21, to complete the series against Cincinnati.