With the preseason conditioning reaching completion, the Clermont Cougars baseball team prepared for their first series of the season. Head Coach Keith Bauman took an optimistic approach to their opening games, doing everything he could to prepare the team for victory.
The Cougars started their season off against Union College as part of a four-game weekend series. Union College, a NAIA powerhouse that has already played thirteen games this season, took home the four wins. The Cougars couldn’t seem to get the bats rolling in the first game on Saturday. Freshman Jake Allen from Colerain High School started the game on the mound. He threw well for the first three innings until the Union’s bats came alive. Then, Jacob Carnahan from New Richmond High School came up from the bullpen and pitched well. However, there were only two hits by the Cougars, both from Caleb Rudisell, a South Dearborn High School student. One of those two hits included a double, but the Cougars eventually fell 11-0 for their first game.
The second game of the double header on Saturday saw a much better performance by the Cougars. Jake Murray of Colerain High School got the first hit, leading the game off with a double. This was followed up by a base hit from Kori Embs of Bishop Brossart High School, allowing Murray to make it home and put a point on the board. In the bottom of the first, Union got out with four points. However, after Grant Christman of Little Miami High School settled in, and with assistance from AJ Sweatland of Glen Este High School, Union was unable to score another point.
There were more chances throughout the game for the Cougars to score. In the second inning the Cougars had the bases loaded with no outs, but were unable to get a big hit. In the top of the sixth the Cougars maintained a close game, trailing by two, but could not add any more points, leading to a loss of 4-2.
On Sunday, the Cougars played well in the third game of the series. Once again Jake Murray opened up the game with a triple, scoring on Caleb Rudisells ground out. The lead was held by the Cougars all the way to the third inning, until Union scored twice on Nick King from Dixie Heights High School. Down by three in the final inning, the Cougars were able to pull it together enough to get a point. Jonathon Deifel from Oak Hills High School managed to leadoff with a single, scoring off of Caleb Rudisells base hit. The game ended with the Cougars leaving two runners on base, unable to get any more points on the board, and they finally fell to Union 4-2 in the third game of the series.
During the final game, and second of the Sunday double-header, the Cougars came out with confidence, with Jonathon Deifel shutting Union out on the mound. A solo home run was hit by Nick King in the second inning, later scoring yet again off of a base hit from Chase Louk. The Cougars led 2-1 going into the fifth inning, but multiple costly mistakes later in the game lead to a final fourth loss of 14-2.
Because the Tuesday game against Ohio State being rained out, the Cougars play their next game against Indian Tech on Saturday at Shawnee State. The USCAA will open on Sunday at 1:00 pm, with the Cougars in a double-header at Florence Freedom.
Although it’s been a rough start to the season, it’s been a learning experience for the team, and it’s given them time to even out the rough spots and fill the empty spaces. With nothing but time for improvement, we’re all looking forward to what’s still left to come by the Clermont Cougar baseball team.