CLEARWATER, Fla. – The University of Cincinnati baseball team's season ended Thursday afternoon after losing to University of Louisville 5-3 in a 2011 BIG EAST Championship elimination game at Bright House Field.
Cincinnati (30-27, 14-13 BIG EAST) pulled to within one run after trailing 4-0 early, but was unable to complete to comeback. UC had the tying run in scoring position in the last three innings, but could not record the clutch hit it needed.
Sophomore outfielder Jake Proctor (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) and junior catcher Jake Saylor (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) each hit 2 for 3 to account for four of the Bearcats' seven hits.
Down to its last at-bat in the ninth, Cincinnati loaded the bases after freshman infielder Ryan Quinn (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) hit a one-out single to right field. Senior shortstop Chris Peters (Tipp City, Ohio/Tipp City) hit into a double play in the next at-bat that ended the game.
Louisville starting pitcher Justin Amlung held UC hitless through the first four innings. He ended the game throwing 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts to pick up the win.
Cincinnati recorded its first hit of the game when junior first baseman Nic Spence (Victoria, Australia/St. Joseph's) led off the fifth inning with a solo home run over the right-field wall to make the score 4-1. The homer was Spence's sixth of the season and ended Cincinnati's 0-for-27 skid from UC's No. 2 through No. 6 hitters that began Wednesday against St. John's University.
Proctor and Saylor followed with consecutive singles that put runners on the corners and no outs. A wild pitch by Amlung allowed Proctor to score from third base, bringing the Bearcats to within two runs.
Proctor led off the seventh inning and stole second base after getting hit by a pitch. Saylor hit a single to left field that drove in Proctor and pulled UC to within one run at 4-3. After Vandenheuvel bunted Proctor over to second base, the Bearcats failed to record the game-tying base knock.
Louisville added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when UofL 1B Zak Wasserman hit an RBI single to left field, making the score 5-3.
UC senior right-hander Dan Jensen (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) kept the Bearcats in the game after he pitched five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks. He was replaced by senior RHP Nick Johnson (Delphos, Ohio/St. John's), who entered the game in the sixth inning and threw two scoreless innings to keep the Bearcats within striking distance before allowing a run in the eighth.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, UofL third baseman Cade Stallings hit a 1-2 pitch from Jensen over the left-field wall for a solo home run that gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Cardinals had bases loaded with one out for second baseman Ryan Wright, who hit a deep fly ball for a sacrifice fly that increased UofL's lead to 2-0. Jensen then struck out Cardinals right fielder Stewart Ijames in the next at-bat to get out of the third with minimal damage.
Louisville hit back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth inning to increase its lead to 4-0.
Cincinnati bids farewell to its seven seniors: Peters, Jensen, Johnson, RHP Dan Glozer (North Royalton, Ohio), OF Justin Riddell (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic), C Nick Rohlfs (Loveland, Ohio/Moeller) and RHP Brian Sand (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills).