Mason alums play a key role in Cincy baseball resurgence

Eric Miller | Online Sports Editor

Three former Mason high school players may have traded in the green and white for the  University of Cincinnati’s red and black, but all three want to continue to represent Mason High School. RJ Thompson and Connor McVey, 2013 Mason graduates, and 2014 Mason graduate Joey Thomas have all moved from the Mason baseball diamond to UC’s Marge Schott Stadium. Thompson said the decision to attend UC was an easy one once he was offered the chance to join the baseball team.

“UC was one of the schools I was going to attend if I didn’t play baseball and then I got the opportunity to play baseball here too,” Thompson said. “So it was a no brainer.”

Thompson, a junior outfielder for the Bearcats, Thomas, a sophomore catcher, and McVey, a redshirt sophomore infielder, have all made significant contributions for the Bearcats during the 2016 season. Thomas hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 14th inning against the University of South Florida to win the Bearcats their first American Athletic Conference (AAC) series of the year. Thompson has hit .245 in 25 starts and boasts a 1.000 fielding percentage with 43 putouts and three assists along with no errors. McVey recorded a 20-game hitting streak from February 27 to March 26, the longest streak for a Bearcat since 2001. In addition to leading the Bearcats in batting average, .315, and stolen bases, 17, McVey has also been named to the AAC weekly honor roll three times this year. McVey said having two former high school teammates at the college level has many benefits.

“I’ve been playing with Joey and RJ since middle school and even before that,” McVey said. “You already have a friendship, on the team and you don’t really have to worry about not knowing anybody. You still have that core group of guys that you can talk to if you’re struggling.”

Thomas said having two of his best friends with him helped him adjust to athletic and academic aspects of college.

“Change isn’t always easy, especially going from high school to college,” Thomas said. “Not just on the baseball field but in the classroom as well. Going through tough times is easier with people you know. Going to them for advice or just if you’re struggling.”

Thompson said staying close to home to play college baseball has allowed him to continue to represent his home city.

“Being able to be recognized as playing in your own backyard is really nice,” Thompson said. “It’s cool being a local guy and knowing there are people who followed you in high school and can still follow you in college. A lot of kids from Mason go to UC; being able to stay with those people and have the connections that you did in high school is pretty cool. It’s awesome to represent Cincinnati as whole.”

Thomas said being a hometown player gives local fans more of a connection to the action on the field.

“It’s nice to represent where you grew up and where you came from,” Thomas said. “It also ties into the fan base; when they recognize someone from Cincinnati, that draws their attention.”

McVey said he enjoys representing the city of Cincinnati and all the people who have helped him get to the point he’s at in his baseball career.

“It’s always good to represent your hometown city,” McVey said. “Having people that you know back home can come down at any time. People in school from Mason still reach out to you; your high school coaches, your teachers, family and friends. It’s nice to represent them. Hopefully all three of us can continue to represent the University of Cincinnati and William Mason High School.”