The University of Cincinnati baseball team shocks the State of Oregon as the NCAA tournament kicks off

CORVALLIS, Ore. – “Why not us?”

Why not in fact!

Following coach Scott Googins’ pre-tournament mantra, the underdog University of Cincinnati baseball team entered the school’s first NCAA tournament in 45 years with a chip on their shoulder, shocking defending national champions Oregon State (7-6) in a first round game on his home field Friday night.

Right fielder AJ Bumpass ended a 5v5 night tie in the ninth inning, and UC showed a formidable surprise that brought Googins their 400th career win, putting the Bearcats in the driver’s seat of the four-team, double elimination regional.

“We knew what OSU was. I think what makes us successful is that we played fearlessly, ”said Bumpass after leading UC’s 15-goal attack. “We know what we are capable of and we have not withdrawn.”

😍😍😍 # Bearcats | #RoadToOmaha pic.twitter.com/Khd5yN3izd

– Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) June 1, 2019

UC, number 4 at Corvallis, will play Michigan No. 3 at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday after the Wolverines beat Creighton No. 2 6-0 on Friday. The state of Oregon faces Creighton at 4 p.m. ET. If the Bearcats can beat Michigan, all they need is one win to advance to the national round.

Bumpass was the obvious hit star, adding a solo homer, a double, two singles, and three RBI. Bearcat’s starting pitcher Clayton Colvin held Oregon State for two solo homers and six hits in six innings.

UC (31-29) could have thrown in the towel after taking a 5-2 lead and OSU (36: 19-1) taking a 6-5 lead in four rallies in the seventh inning.

“It says a lot,” said Bumpass of the rebound. “They say we have grit, we are resilient, we play until the last time.”

Googins followed an unusual strategy during this OSU rally. With bases loaded and no outs, the UC coach ordered a deliberate stroll down to catcher Adley Rutschman, who was likely number 1 in the upcoming MLB draft, to avoid a big inning.

Googins said he and his coaches looked through the scenario during the week.

“My assistants tried to talk me out of it. I said, “No, we talked about it when the pressure wasn’t on,” Googins said. “We wouldn’t let the best player in the nation beat us.”

But the Bearcats came back right on the eighth to first tie it with the help of a bang-bang game. Substitute catcher Mason DeAnna was unlucky to start the inning and finished second in the victim of Jeremy Johnson. Third baseman Eric Santiago made an infield error and shortstop Joey Bellini hit a double play grounder at the end of the inning. But Bellini hit the throw for the first time and allowed DeAnna to score the bond run.

Going 3v4, second baseman Jace Mercer led the UC in ninth by dropping a soft single to the center left and Bumpass hit him with one blow from the midfield wall.

The UC bullpen then did what it couldn’t in the seventh – protect the lead. Korren Thompson put the Beavers down for the 13th time on three straight fly outs with 1: 2: 3.

UC took a 1-0 lead in the second game after left fielder Joey Wiemer’s high pop-up fell in the middle of three Oregon outfield players for a double. After Mercer left, Bumpass drew an RBI single to the right.

The Bearcats scored five goals in the third round to make it 3-0. Bellini and batsman-designate Wyatt Stapp doubled up, although Bellini was thrown out at home. Wiemer doubled in Stapp and Mercer and Bumpass followed with RBI singles.

OSU right fielder Tyler Malone hit his first homer of the season in the third and midfielder Kyler McMahan in the fifth to cut UC’s lead to 3-2.

Bumpass started UC’s sixth inning with a homer, knocking OSU starter Bryce Fehmel out of the game after giving up nine hits and four runs. Jeremy Johnson left and Eric Santiago doubled off the fence in midfield.

In the seventh round, the state of Oregon rallied for three runs ahead of reliever AJ Kullman with a batsman, two walks (one on purpose) and three singles.

Nathan Moore took the final out of the seventh and threw a 1-2-3 eighth to take the win. Jake Mulholland tossed the final 1 1/3 innings for OSU and took the loss.

SEE the box score.

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