Bumpass’ RBI triple helps Cincinnati beat Oregon St. 7-6
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Defending national champion Oregon State finds itself in a surprising predicament: on the verge of elimination in the Corvallis regional of the NCAA baseball tournament.
A.J. Bumpass drove a run-scoring triple to the gap in left center off OSU reliever Jake Mulholland with no outs in the top of the ninth inning, scoring Jace Mercer for what proved to be the winning run.
Cincinnati squandered a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning that included a curious intentional walk to OSU catcher Adley Rutschman with the bases loaded and no outs. That led to a four-run rally, culminated by Andy Armstrong’s two-out, run-scoring single, that gave the Beavers their first lead at 6-5.
But the Bearcats showed their resiliency in a 7-6 victory Friday night at Goss Stadium.
Cincinnati’s Mason DeAnna scored on Joey Bellini’s fielder’s choice to tie it in the top of the eighth and Jace Mercer led off the top of the ninth with a single before Bumpass connected on the next pitch to give the Bearcats a one-run lead.
Korren Thompson retired the Beavers in order in the bottom of the frame for his 13th save.
Bumpass, the American Athletic Conference tournament MVP, was 5 for 5 with three RBI.
“We know who Oregon State is,” Bumpass said. “We were not backing down from anybody. That’s what we really wanted to do out there.”
Top-seeded OSU (36-19-1) plays No. 2 seed Creighton (38-12) in an elimination game Saturday. The Beavers had won 12 consecutive NCAA Regional opening games dating to 2005.
Cincinnati (31-29), the No. 4 seed, will play fourth-seeded Michigan (42-18), a 6-0 winner over Creighton in Friday’s first game. The Bearcats are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 45 years.
Cincinnati coach Scott Googins did not second-guess his strategy to walk Rutschman, even though the Bearcats temporarily lost the lead.
“We weren’t gonna get beat by the best player in the nation,” Googins said. “Oregon State was making a run at us and you put that guy at the plate and who knows?”
Rutschman, the Pac-12 Player of the Year who has been projected by Baseball America to be the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s Major League Baseball Draft, said he had never been intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
OSU, the national No. 16 seed, needs to win four games in a row over the next three days to win the Corvallis Regional and advance to a best-of-three super regional.
“We’ve gotta flush it and move on,” Rutschman said of the defeat.
Cincinnati’s win was no fluke.
The Bearcats outhit the Beavers 15 to 9 and played flawlessly in the field. OSU committed two errors and misplayed several other balls in the outfield.
“I’m not disappointed in our offensive effort, I’m disappointed in our defensive effort,” OSU interim head coach Pat Bailey said.
Cincinnati has come a long way since losing nine of its first 10 games to open the season.
OSU, meanwhile, has been struggling, losing five of its last eight games.
“Tomorrow we’ve got a new life and now it’s do or die,” OSU second baseman Andy Armstrong said. “So we’ve gotta show up.”