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Happ returns to alma mater, breaks up no-no

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CINCINNATI -- Ian Happ stopped by the University of Cincinnati on Friday to say hello to some of the folks in the athletic department and meet new baseball coach Scott Googins. Who knows? The Cubs' rookie could do some recruiting down the road.

On Friday night, Happ was busy with his Major League job, delivering the Cubs' first hit off the Reds' Scott Feldman when he singled with two outs in the sixth inning. It was one of three Chicago singles on the night in a 5-0 loss to Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park. Feldman gave up two hits over seven innings, frustrating the Cubs.

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CINCINNATI -- Ian Happ stopped by the University of Cincinnati on Friday to say hello to some of the folks in the athletic department and meet new baseball coach Scott Googins. Who knows? The Cubs' rookie could do some recruiting down the road.

On Friday night, Happ was busy with his Major League job, delivering the Cubs' first hit off the Reds' Scott Feldman when he singled with two outs in the sixth inning. It was one of three Chicago singles on the night in a 5-0 loss to Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park. Feldman gave up two hits over seven innings, frustrating the Cubs.

Full Game Coverage

"He does a good job moving the ball -- cutters, two-seam, his big curveball," Happ said of the right-hander. "He does a good job mixing it up. If the ball was hit hard, it was right at people. Sometimes a guy goes out and pitches a good game and you're in the dugout wondering why we're not getting hits. That's baseball, it happens."

Part of the reason may have been the Cubs' aggressive approach.

"We were swinging at every single first pitch, and he took advantage," Willson Contreras said. "I feel it's harder for us to hit slow pitches than fastball pitches."

Happ agreed with Contreras.

"We did swing early and put balls in play early, and that kept him in the game," Happ said. "He just did a good job pitching to contact. If he can get the contact early and soft contact, he's going to have a good day."

Video: CHC@CIN: Feldman retires Rizzo to escape jam

That aggressive approach is to be expected. It's part of the Cubs' growing pains as they rely on young players like Happ, Contreras and others.

"It's a young group, it just is," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's actually a great thing, it's not a bad thing, that we have this many young players who are Major League caliber. Probably the last thing to come is the development of the bats at the Major League level. We can play great defense, we can run the bases, we can throw well. Our bats are really inconsistent with zero runs tonight."

Happ almost gave his Cincinnati fans a thrill in the eighth when he hit a fly ball to left, but Adam Duvall caught it at the warning track. It was still a good day for Happ, who even had a few of his former professors in the crowd.

The 22-year-old is not the first Major League player from the school. Josh Harrison, Tony Campana and Sandy Koufax also attended the University of Cincinnati, although Koufax was only there for one year.

"I have a lot of support in Cincinnati from the university and around," Happ said. "I had a little bit of family here, and my mom was in. It was nice to have support from the people in Cincinnati."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Ian Happ