For the first time since 1974, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team will play in the NCAA tournament. After besting Memphis (11-6), Tulane (8-4), UCF (10-6), and absolutely obliterating the UConn Huskies in Clearwater, Florida (22-5), the Bearcats captured the American Athletic Conference Championship. By winning the Conference Tournament, UC now has a spot in the NCAA Regionals for the first time in over four decades.
For scale, in 1974 (45 years ago)…
- Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency for his involvement in directing the break in at the Watergate Hotel.
- Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle.
- Serial killer Ted Bundy was still on the loose.
- There was a super-outbreak of tornadoes, 148 in total, that killed 315 and injured 5,000.
- The Cleveland Indians held a Ten Cent Beer Night (up to six cups at a time) against the Texas Rangers, which ended with drunken violence spilling onto the field after a 19 year old ran into the field of play and tried to steal a Rangers outfielder’s hat.
- No one had the Internet.
This much is evident, the Scott Googins rebuild is well underway at the University of Cincinnati, and ahead of schedule. Coming into the season, the Bearcats were predicted to finish worst in the league after turning over most of the roster through graduations. Instead, they just captured the Conference Title and head to the double elimination NCAA Regionals as one of the most intimidating 4 seeds.
In 90+ degree Clearwater, UC’s bats were white hot. Googins’ squad averaged over 10 runs a game after only crossing that scoring threshold six times during the regular season.
As astute readers may recall, Googins built Xavier’s baseball program into an unlikely power. Googins led the Musketeers to play in the NCAA Regionals or Regional Finals in three of his last four seasons prior to being recruited away by Mike Bohn (and Luke Fickell). Now Googins appears to be building a behemoth in Clifton, which is remarkable with such an inexperienced team.
Up next, the University of Cincinnati will play in the NCAA Regionals. The tournament field will be revealed tomorrow, May 27th, at Noon on ESPNU. The Bearcats’ fabled “Road to Omaha” will then begin next weekend as the Regionals are played Friday, May 31st – Monday, June 3rd.
Tune in and let’s see just how far this team goes!
By Brian Fox
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