Bearcats score 22 runs, win AAC tourney
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Cincinnati powered to the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament championship, beating Connecticut 22-5 on Sunday afternoon in Clearwater, Fla., and possibly setting up as many as five AAC teams to make the NCAA regionals.
The Bearcats, the AAC No. 2 seed that broke away from 4 seed UConn thanks to nine runs in the top of the seventh inning for a 19-4 lead, received the American’s automatic qualifier spot to guarantee their first NCAA appearance since 1974.
Cincinnati came into the AAC tourney on a 17-game losing streak in conference tournament games, but it went 4-0 this year in Clearwater.
Regular season champion ECU, a regional host, was eliminated on Friday with a loss to Wichita State. UConn (36-23) also is projected to be an NCAA at-large selection.
AAC squads Houston and Central Florida are both considered to be on the bubble to make the 64-team NCAA field.
Cincy (30-29) beat UCF 10-6 in the semifinals on Saturday. The Bearcats and Huskies were tied 1-1 when Cincy took the lead for good with a five-run third inning. Three more runs in the Bearcat fourth made it 9-3.
Cincinnati finished with 24 hits, highlighted by a home run each from Joey Bellini, Mitch Holding, Jace Mercer and A.J. Bumpass.
Mercer finished 5-for-5 with three runs scored, four RBIs, a double and grand slam.
UConn used seven different pitchers.