It’s official: Bengals bringing back one of their first-round picks

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 12:55 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 12:58 PM


            The Bengals drafted tackle Andre Smith sixth overall in 2009, and he went on to play in 82 games with 73 starts during a seven-year career in Cincinnati. Smith battled weight issues and occasional injuries during and never made it to a Pro Bowl. He only played in all 16 games twice in his seven years with the team before signing a free-agent contract with Minnesota in 2016. JAMIE SABAU/GETTY IMAGES
The Bengals drafted tackle Andre Smith sixth overall in 2009, and he went on to play in 82 games with 73 starts during a seven-year career in Cincinnati. Smith battled weight issues and occasional injuries during and never made it to a Pro Bowl. He only played in all 16 games twice in his seven years with the team before signing a free-agent contract with Minnesota in 2016. JAMIE SABAU/GETTY IMAGES

The Cincinnati Bengals made it official today: they’re bringing back offensive lineman Andre Smith.

Smith, an unrestricted free agent, played last year in Minnesota after spending his first seven seasons with the Bengals. A 6-foot-4, 325-pound guard/tackle, Smith played in 69 games with 68 starts over this last five seasons with Cincinnati. The Bengals made the playoffs in each of those seasons.

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Last season Smith started the first four games for the Vikings at right tackle, but suffered a season-ending triceps injury in Week 4.

“We are excited to have Andre back in Cincinnati,” head coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s a talented player we know and respect. He will bolster our offensive team.”

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“I’ll play where the team needs me,” Smith said. “I have faith that I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Smith was a first-round pick by the Bengals in 2009 out of Alabama. In 2008 he won the Outland Trophy as college football’s top offensive or defensive lineman.

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Chaminade Julienne baseball earns second straight trip to state

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

Highlights: Chaminade Julienne beats CHCA in regional final

The goal for the Chaminade Julienne baseball team ever since it walked off the field at Huntington Park last June was to earn another chance to play for the state championship.

Last winter, in the weight room at the high school, the Eagles kept track of how many days remained until they would get the chance.

"They had a board in there, and they had a countdown," CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. "It was 78 or 80 days or whatever when we started it."

» PHOTOS: CJ vs. CHCA

On Friday before a Division II regional championship game against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Barhorst reminded them of the countdown.

"One day left until we make it to Huntington," Barhorst said.

The Eagles really have to wait another week, but after beating CHCA 5-4 at Mason High School, they will get the chance to avenge that 4-0 loss to Tallmadge in the state title game, and this time, Tallmadge will be opponent in the semifinals. The teams play at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus.

The other state semifinal in Division II will pit Circleville against Wapakoneta or Ontario, who play their regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tallmadge beat Canfield 17-0 on Friday to win its regional. Chaminade Julienne didn't have quite the same easy night. For the second straight day, it experienced a dramatic seventh inning in Mason.

» REGIONAL SEMIFINAL: CJ wins on walk-off singleGame photos | CHCA routs Ross

The Eagles gave up a game-tying run to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the top of the seventh inning Thursday before winning the regional semifinal on a walk-off single by Sebastian Gongora in the bottom of the inning. This time, after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error, CJ had a 5-2 lead entering the seventh.

Nick Wissman walked the lead-off batter but then struck out the next two batters. After another walk, CHCA’s Lucas Rotello doubled to left field, scoring two runs.

With the tying run on second, however, Wissman got a groundout to second baseman A.J. Solomon to end the game.

“With a three-run lead, I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, and then the next thing you know ...,” Barhorst said. “I had a lot of confidence Nick was going to get out of that, but it’s a little too close for comfort.”

Wissman took over in the sixth inning after five solid innings by Gongora, who struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Wissman retired the side in order in the sixth and earned the save in the seventh.

“Sebastian didn’t have his breaking ball early on, but he was still fighting through with his fastball and making good pitches,” Barhorst said. “Nick came in, and I kind of wanted to change things up. I didn’t want to give them another look at Sebastian just in case they started figuring him out. Just to change their view a little bit, I brought in the right-hander, throwing a little harder. It worked out.”

Chaminade Julienne fell behind early for the second straight day but didn’t trail for long. Ryan Peltier hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

“We gave them that one run in the first inning on another error,” Peltier said. “I watched a ball go by and was expecting fastball. I hopped on it and let it fly.”

» REGIONAL TRACK: Northwestern takes two of top three spots in discus

In the second inning, Chaminade Julienne took a 3-1 lead. A single by David Ernst scored Solomon. A double by Ben Thomas scored Ernst.

Chaminade Julienne had chances to extend the lead in the next three innings, stranding a total of eight runners and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth, Andrew Simones and Peltier walked to lead off the inning. Wissman put down a sacrifice bunt, and the catcher threw the ball past first base, allowing two runs to score as CJ extended its lead to 5-2. It needed both runs to earn its second straight trip to Columbus.

“We wanted to get back,” Peltier said. “We knew we had the team to get back. We just had to take it game by game.”

       

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Sampen gem carries Wright State into Horizon League tournament final

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

Caleb Sampen takes no-hitter into seventh

Wright State coach Jeff Mercer used an unusual, yet thoroughly accurate word to describe his slight-framed starting pitcher Friday afternoon.

“That guy’s a monster,” Mercer said of Caleb Sampen after the lanky, 185-pound sophomore took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the winners bracket final of the Horizon League tournament.

Sampen lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh on a solid single to left, but WSU had a double-digit lead by then, well on its way to a 10-1 triumph of UIC at Nischwitz Stadium.

“Going in I knew they were a very well-pitched, well-coached team so it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Sampen said. “So we talked about mixing early all of my pitches and getting everything in the zone. Just make them beat you. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes was probably the biggest thing today.”

›› Butler grad comes up big as WSU wins tourney opener

Sampen (5-0) allowed just one baserunner through 5.2 innings, but he issued back-to-back walks and hit a batter to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. But Sampen got UIC cleanup hitter Scott Ota to ground into an inning-ending force out to keep his no-hitter intact.

“Caleb Sampen was absolutely tremendous,” Mercer said. “He’s a guy you can really rely on, and he showed up today. Great players are tough and competitive, they love the spotlight and they love to be in the big moment, and Caleb’s that guy to a T.”

After Sampen got out of his only jam in the top of the sixth, the WSU offense scored six runs with two outs to blow things open with a 10-0 lead that marked the fifth consecutive game the Raiders have scored in double figures.

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“We know we’re capable of, and we had good at-bats all day,” said WSU No. 9 hitter Zach Weatherford, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Weatherford’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the first hit of the game sparked the four-run frame.

Then his RBI bunt single with two outs in the sixth started the six-run onslaught.

“The call came from the dugout because the third baseman was back, and I just trusted it and put it down,” Weatherford said.

UIC manager Mike Dee, still stewing from a missed call a few minutes earlier on a pickoff throw to third base that would have ended the inning, earned an ejection just seconds after walking out to question whether Weatherford beat the throw at the first.

›› WSU offense in high gear

The Raiders added five more runs after the ejection on two-run singles by JD Orr and pinch-hitter Alex Alders and an RBI single by Peyton Burdick.

“We hammered balls the few innings and had nothing to show for it,” Mercer said. “Finally the competitiveness of our at-bats kind of wore on them and our ability to take balls and make (UIC starter Charle Cerny) be in the zone. And as good as he is, he eventually kind of lost feel.”

UIC scored its lone run on a play that put a scare into the WSU dugout. With the bases loaded and two outs, Raiders first baseman Gabe Snyder — the Horizon League Player of the Year — made a diving catch in foul territory in shallow right field and nearly threw out UIC’s Joshua Figueroa at the plate after he tagged up.

›› Snyder named Horizon League Player of the Year

Snyder hurt his left arm on the dive and had to come out of the game, but Mercer said he didn’t think the injury was serious.

“He just slammed the inside of his elbow and hopefully he just kind of hyper-extended it and kind of hit the funny bone,” Mercer said. “I almost yelled ‘don’t catch it.’ I didn’t care about that. We’re up by 10 runs. But players want to make plays. So you can’t take that competitiveness out of them.

“It was a great catch, but I just want to keep the best player maybe in program history healthy,” he added.

WSU goes into Saturday’s 12 p.m. game against the winner of the UIC-Milwaukee game needing to win one of two games to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

If the UIC-Milwaukee winner beats Wright State in the first game Saturday, there will be a winner-take-all final at 4.

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Hunter Greene reaches another milestone in latest Dayton Dragons start

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 8:44 PM

Highlights of Dragons 2-1 win Thursday night

Mark Thursday night as another step forward in Hunter Greene’s development. 

Many, many steps remain, but the talent is tantalizing for the 2017 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds. 

In his eighth start for the Dayton Dragons, the righty struck out six and walked two. He allowed four hits, including a home run with one out in the top of the fifth inning by Lake County’s Tyler Friis. 

RELATED: What should the Reds do with Scooter Gennett and Matt Harvey? 

After Oscar Gonzalez singled to right, Greene’s night was done. 

He threw a career-high 73 pitches, 50 for strikes. 

He pitched into the fifth inning for the first time in his professional career but is still looking for his first win. He left trailing 1-0. 

Greene hit triple digits with his fastball multiple times, and the Captains rarely made hard contact. 

Aside from Friis’ home run, a high fly that hit off the top of the wall, Will Benson got the best swing on Greene, socking one to centerfielder Stuart Fairchild to start the second inning. 

Jose Vicente followed Benson’s laser by slapping a single through the hole on the left side, and Greene found himself in trouble when Dragons second baseman Jeter Downs threw away a potential double-play ball off the bat of Jose Medina. 

With runners on the corners and one out, Greene bore down, striking out Jonathan Laureano looking before blowing away Miguel Eladio with three straight fastballs, the last of which was measured at 101 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. 

Greene also stranded two in the third inning when JJ Berardi singled and Nolan Jones walked ahead of Benson, the first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians two years ago. 

He got the heater three times in a row, taking it for a strike before back-to-back swings and misses to end the inning. 

After three straight poor outings, Greene has been strong in two of his last three, and he credited making better use of scouting reports and a more consistent routine. 

Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene overcame some adversity to turn in one of his best starts yet in Dayton.

On May 12, Green shut out Peoria over four innings, walking none and striking out five while giving up just two hits. 

A week later, Greene gave up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3.1 innings against Great Lakes. 

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Cincinnati Reds: Suarez grand slam holds up in 5-4 win over Pirates

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:35 PM


            CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 23: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on May 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati 5-4 in 12 innings. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 23: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on May 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati 5-4 in 12 innings. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Reds waited on Wednesday night until they were losing to Pittsburgh, 4-0, before starting to swing their bats. They eventually came back to tie the score before running out of steam, opening the door for the Pirates to pull out a 12-inning, 5-4 win.

They found in Thursday’s series finale that taking the initiative works better. Eugenio Suarez hit a grand slam and Jesse Winker added a solo shot, both off Ivan Nova, to back a fourth straight strong start by Luis Castillo and lift Cincinnati a 5-4 win in the rubber match of the three-game series.

»RELATED: Third time the charm for Reds reliever

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The Reds, now 18-33 overall after going 1-3 against the Cubs and 2-1 against Pittsburgh on the seven-game home stand, left town after the game for a 10-day, nine-game road trip to Colorado, Arizona and San Diego with a day off next Thursday in San Diego.

“That was a good win against a good ballclub,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “When the Cubs came in, they were playing good. The Pirates had lost a few in a row when they came in and they were hungry. They were really tough. That we were able to win with a few guys out was big.”

Castillo, who’d allowed a total of just 13 hits in 16 2/3 innings over three starts after giving up a career-high nine in six innings on May 2, gave up just four hits in six innings. The right-hander, 3-0 with a no-decision on a blown save in his last four starts and 4-4 overall, didn’t allow a run until David Freese launched a two-run drive into the upper deck in left field on the 85thpitch of the game with one out in the sixth inning.

Castillo used his full array of pitches to keep the Pirates off balance.

“Like always, my command and making all my pitches,” he said. “Usually, my four-seamer is working, but my two-seamer and slider were working really well today, too.

“He’s getting closer,” Riggleman said. “We want him to be a seven inning-plus guy and he’s not there yet, but with his repertoire, he’s a tough challenge for the hitters in this league.”

Amir Garrett was in line for his first professional save before Austin Meadows lined a two-run homer into the right field seats with one out in the ninth inning. Jared Hughes came for the final two outs and his second save of the season.

Castillo, acquired by the Reds in the January 2017 trade of Dan Straily to the Marlins, also helped spark Cincinnati’s third-inning rally. He opened the inning by coaxing a leadoff walk from Nova, the first walk issued by the Pittsburgh right-hander in his last three starts. Winker singled to right, and after Jose Peraza popped up a bunt to Nova, Scooter Gennett hit a chopper up the first base line that Nova fielded but overthrew first baseman David Freese for a bases-loading error.

Unlike Wednesday night, when rookie Brandon Dixon was ruled out on batter’s interference for running inside the baseline, a ruling that cost the Reds runners on first and third with nobody out in the 11thinning, there were no issues with Gennett’s trip up the line.

That set the stage for Suarez’s third career grand slam and Cincinnati’s second of the series and the season, a high-arcing drive halfway up the first full section of seats down the left field line. Gennett hit his sixth career grand slam and fifth in two seasons with the Reds in their 7-2 win on Tuesday.

Suarez moved into a tie with Chicago’s Javier Baez for the National League lead in runs batted in with 38.

“I always try to help the team in that situation,” said the third baseman and former Detroit Tiger, who missed 16 games in April with a fractured thumb sustained when he was hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh. “If there’s a guy on third and less than two outs, I’ll at least try to get a sacrifice fly. I just try to put a good swing on it and not try to do too much.”

“You look at most guys when they hit home runs, they usually have nice, easy swings, but they square it up and the ball jumps off their bat,” Riggleman said. “He’s been really clutch for us.”

Winker, who hit seven homers in 47 games last season, hit his first in his 45thgame to lead off the fifth inning, upping Cincinnati’s lead to 5-0. His opposite-field drive landed on the netting over what now is the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field.

Joey Votto, mired in a 5-for-27 slump, didn’t start, but he walked as a pinch-hitter in the sixth to reach 1,480 games with the Reds, tying another left-handed hitting first baseman, Dan Driessen, for ninth on the franchise career games played list. Frank Robinson is eighth with 1,502 games.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart also got the day off.

Dixon, promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday, got his first three career hits – including a double – in his first career start in place of Votto at first base. All three players the Reds received from the Dodgers in the three-way deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox after the 2015 season – Dixon, Peraza and outfielder Scott Schebler – were in Cincinnati’s starting lineup.

FRIDAY’S GAME

Reds at Rockies, 8:40 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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