FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
CINCINNATI — A school-record 35 home games, five 2012 NCAA Championship qualifiers and five teams that either won or shared a piece of their conference championship highlight the University of Cincinnati’s 2013 baseball schedule, which was released by head coach Brian Cleary on Thursday.
“This is a great schedule,” said Cleary. “We will play at home often and against top-quality opponents. We have some great teams coming to Marge Schott Stadium. This schedule will be a tremendous challenge for our young team, but will also force us to play at a very high level.”
Overall, the 27 teams Cincinnati is slated to face in 2013 combined for a winning percentage of .544 last year, including two that finished the 2012 season in the top 25 of the final NCAA Ratings Percentage Index.
The nonconference portion of the schedule features five teams from the Mid American Conference, three from the Atlantic 10 and the Big Ten, two from the Southern Conference, and one each from the Atlantic Sun, East Coast, Horizon League, Southeastern, Sun Belt and West Coast conferences.
The Bearcats will begin the season on the road Feb. 15-17 with a three-game series at Florida Atlantic, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference regular-season champions. The following weekend, Cincinnati travels to Greenville, S.C. to play in the First Pitch Invitational for the second time in three years. The round-robin tournament will feature games against NCAA participant Michigan State (Feb. 22), and SoCon members Furman (Feb. 23) and Western Carolina (Feb. 24).
Cincinnati’s home opener at Marge Schott Stadium will be March 1 when UC begins a three-game series against New York Tech. A March 5 weekday game at Kentucky, which advanced to the NCAA tournament after spending a portion of 2012 ranked No. 1, precedes a seven-game homestand that begins with a three-game stretch with Eastern Michigan (March 8-10), followed by a weekday matchup against 2012 Big Ten Conference champion Purdue (March 12) and a weekend series with Western Michigan (March 15-17).
After visiting Wright State on March 19, the Bearcats will play Northern Kentucky (March 20) at Marge Schott Stadium for the first time since 1996. The Norse will be competing in Division I baseball for the first time in 2013 as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
UC opens BIG EAST Conference play March 22-24 on the road at USF. After a midweek contest at home vs. Ohio on March 26, Cincinnati will play its second straight league series on the road March 28-30 at St. John’s, which earned a share of the BIG EAST regular-season crown before winning the conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Super Regional in Tucson, Ariz.
Cincinnati begins the month of April with a seven-game homestand, starting with a midweek matchup vs. Toledo (April 3). Following their game against the Rockets, the Bearcats will face longtime rival Louisville for a three-game conference series April 5-7 before hosting the fifth annual Joe Nuxhall Classic, starting with crosstown foe Xavier on April 9.
A three-game road series at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. (April 12-14) precedes a five-game home stretch that begins with midweek games against Atlantic 10 champion Dayton (April 16) and Ohio State (April 17). The Bearcats will look to extend their three-game winning streak against the Buckeyes, who will play at UC for the first time since May 11, 1994. The homestand concludes with a three-game series versus Villanova (April 19-21).
The Bearcats close April with a three-game road series at Pittsburgh (April 27-28) and a home midweek game against Miami (Ohio) on April 30.
UC will play 11 of its final 13 games at Marge Schott Stadium in May. After concluding a home-and-home with a road game against the RedHawks on May 1, UC opens a three-game BIG EAST series with Seton Hall (May 3-5) before playing a home-and-home with Xavier (at XU May 7; home vs. XU May 8).
The final seven games of the regular season are scheduled at Marge Schott Stadium; which includes a three-game series against Santa Clara (May 10-12), a midweek tilt with Butler (May 14) and a three-game set versus Notre Dame (May 16-18).
The BIG EAST Conference Championship will be held May 22-26 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.