CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati baseball is a bond that has drawn the Sponseller brothers closer this spring.
It could be redshirt sophomore outfielder JP Sponseller asking for hitting advice from his brother, volunteer assistant coach Lee Sponseller.
Or it could be Ty Sponseller leading the fans at UC Baseball Stadium as part of "12's Corner" sitting directly behind Lee, who is stationed in the first baseball coaching box.
"Our family is really close," said Lee Sponseller, a 2013 Mason High School graduate.
"JP and Ty are my best friends. They're my brothers but they're also my best friends. I'm getting married here in December. They're going to be my best men if you will in the wedding. I'd say that we've kind of grown up together and that relationship that we developed has stayed consistent throughout the years."
Lee, 27, is in his second season on the UC staff. The former Ohio Dominican University and Coastal Carolina University player works with the outfielders and hitters among other duties.
"He has a really good concept of the game," UC head coach Scott Googins said. "He does a great job with scouting for us. And the other part too is he's younger. He relates well with the players. Lee's been a huge asset to the program in terms of developing our hitters and getting a good game plan for opponents."
JP, a 2019 Mason graduate, is in his first season with the Bearcats after he previously played at Elon University.
JP, who has four home runs, three doubles and 16 runs batted in this season, said he can always go to Lee for questions related to hitting.
"He's always helped me the most with my swing even when he was playing," JP Sponseller said. "I sent him videos and he'll give me feedback. So he's always been kind of my hitting coach so it really hasn't been a big adjustment."
Googins has coached a pair of other brother combinations in previous years and he said the older sibling tends to be tougher with instruction.
"It's been awesome; it's an interesting dynamic because sometimes people think, 'Ah these guys play because their brother is on the staff," Googins said. "I think it's really the opposite a little bit where the older brothers are harder on the younger brothers. They're harder on their siblings than they are on other guys and sometimes you tell them to pump the brakes."
Lee said he just wants the best for his younger brother who he said has God-given ability at the plate and controls the strike zone well.
"JP is a hard worker," Lee Sponseller said. "It's easy for me to get along with him whether he's my brother or not. I'm excited to be able to coach him. We have fun together. It's been good."
That fun includes Ty Sponseller, a 2016 Mason graduate who previously played football at UC. His support for the baseball team is evident to all the Bearcats.
"He is a big supporter of the program," Googins said.
Ty Sponseller and Nick Powell, brother of UC redshirt sophomore catcher Joe Powell, lead "12's Corner," in reference to the jersey number that Lee wore at Coastal Carolina.
Ty Sponseller and Nick Powell enthusiastically support their brothers and the entire Bearcats team any way they can during a game. Their passion is unmatched.
"He (Ty) gets rowdy," Lee Sponseller said. "They're getting on the other team a little bit and heckling guys. Our guys...they feed off the energy and it's a lot of fun having those crowds here."
UC (9-10), winners of three consecutive games plays host to Xavaier University (8-13) at 4 p.m. Friday.
Xavier, which won three of four games at Indiana University this past weekend, plays host to Michigan at 3 p.m. Wednesday.