Baseball - Thu, May 15, 2008
CHICAGO - Building a 4-0 lead after the first three innings, No. 19 ranked Spring Arbor University (Mich.) was able to ride the momentum to an eventual 10-4 victory and took the best-of-three series, 2-0, over host Saint Xavier University (Ill.) in the 2008 NAIA Region VII-VII Heartland Super Regional Thursday at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago. By winning the Super Regional, Spring Arbor advances for the second straight year to the 52nd Annual Avista-NAIA World Series, which begins on Friday, May 23, in Lewiston, Idaho. SXU ends its impressive season with a 37-20 overall mark.

Sophomore shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) had the hot bat for Saint Xavier recording a team-best three hits. Sophomore rightfielder Zach Clements (Berwyn, Ill./Morton) also played well going 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, a run scored, and a RBI. Spring Arbor cranked out 14 hits on the day and had three batters record three hits in senior centerfielder Jon Schaible, senior first baseman Jim Baker, and sophomore shortstop Bradley Baker. On the mound, junior righthander James Williams (Steger, Ill./South Suburban CC/Bloom) took the loss (7-3) for SXU throwing the first four innings and allowing nine hits, seven runs (six earned), and two walks with one strikeout. Sophomore leftie Colin O'Connell picked up the victory for SAU pitching the first five innings and allowing six hits, three runs (all earned), and two walks with two strikeouts. He improves to 9-1 overall on the year.

Spring Arbor posted three runs in the top of the first inning on back-to-back RBI singles followed by a sacrifice bunt to score the third run. A RBI double by Jim Baker in the third inning gave SAU a 4-0 lead after three innings. In the top of the fourth, Schaible notched a RBI triple to spark three more runs, which helped build a 7-0 advantage. However, the Cougar offense responded in the bottom of the fourth opening the frame with back-to-back doubles by sophomore leftfielder Tony Testin (Shorewood, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and Clements to plate their first run. A RBI on a fielder's choice by sophomore second baseman Matt Mueller (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) scored another run before sophomore designated hitter Mark Siefert (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) capped the scoring in the fourth with a RBI single. Leading 7-3, Spring Arbor posted another run in the top of the fifth when Schaible was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. A fielding error allowed SXU to score a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but two more runs in the top of the seventh off a two-RBI single by Schaible put the game away for Spring Arbor, 10-4. Both teams each left 11 runners stranded on the base paths Thursday.