Baseball - Thu, May 8, 2008
Joliet, Ill. - Sophomore second baseman Matt Mueller (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) had seven hits over two games, including a perfect 5-for-5 outing against No. 2 seeded St. Ambrose University (Iowa), to help lead No. 3 seed Saint Xavier University to a pair of wins Thursday in the 2008 NAIA Region VII Baseball Tournament at Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill. The Cougars (36-18 overall) are 3-0 in the tournament thus far and advance to Friday's 2 p.m. championship game without a loss in the double-elimination event. SXU started the day with an 11-3 victory over the Fighting Bees of St. Ambrose and then followed that performance with a 13-5 win over No. 6 seed Iowa Wesleyan College (Iowa).

Mueller was unstoppable at the plate in Thursday's first game against SAU with five hits, including a double, in addition to three runs scored and a RBI. The Cougars racked up 15 hits in the ballgame en route to their 11-run output. Behind the hot start of junior righthander James Williams (Steger, Ill./South Suburban CC/Bloom), St. Ambrose was held to just three hits and no runs over the first six innings, which allowed SXU to build a 5-0 lead. However, in the top of the seventh, a two-RBI double sparked a three-run inning for the Fighting Bees cutting the lead to two runs, 5-3. The Saint Xavier offense responded in the bottom of the seventh with five more runs highlighted by a big three-run homer by sophomore catcher Ken Tezak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic). A sacrifice fly by freshman third baseman Austin Lehmann (Shorewood, Ill./Minooka) provided SXU with one more run in the bottom of the eighth for the 11-3 victory. Williams pitched all nine innings improving to 7-2 on the year and allowed just six hits, three runs (all earned), and four walks with five strikeouts.

Sophomore rightfielder Zach Clements (Berwyn, Ill./Morton) posted five hits in the day's second game against Iowa Wesleyan, the only other undefeated team in the tourney at 2-0. Clements finished the game with two runs scored, two RBI, and two stolen bases. SXU led, 5-2, heading into the bottom of the sixth before Iowa Wesleyan tied things up, 5-5, with three runs in the inning behind two RBI singles and a walk with the bases loaded. However, the Cougars racked up 11 hits for eight unanswered runs over the final three innings to pick up the 13-5 win. Sophomore leftie Jayson Koehn (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) got the victory (3-2) in relief of junior starter Rick Kehoe (Palos Heights, Ill./Richards). Koehn went the final 3.1 innings and allowed two hits, no runs, and a walk with four strikeouts. Kehoe threw 5.2 innings and gave up seven hits, five runs (all earned), and no walks with two strikeouts.

Saint Xavier (36-18 overall) advances to Friday's Region VII Championship game at 2 p.m. with a perfect 3-0 record in tournament play. The Cougars will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent Friday and would have to be defeated twice by that team to forfeit the region title.