Baseball - Tue, Mar. 24, 2009
CHICAGO - The Saint Xavier University baseball team once again split a doubleheader Tuesday in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action on the road against Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) at Glancy Field in Chicago. The Cougars (12-9 overall/3-2 CCAC) dropped the first game, 2-0, before bouncing back in the nightcap to win, 4-2. The SXU bats were silenced for a majority of the day only mustering nine total hits on the day.
In game one, Saint Xavier fell victim to an impressive pitching performance by IIT junior Pat O'Brien. The Cougars managed just two hits in the game, while O'Brien faced only two batters over the minimum (23) for the entire game. SXU senior righthander Rick Kehoe (Palos Heights, Ill./Richards) nearly matched O'Brien by also throwing a complete game and allowing just five hits and two runs allowed (one earned). Kehoe drops to 1-3 on the season despite coming into the contest with a 2.89 earned run average (ERA). At one point in the game, O'Brien had retired 17 of the 18 Cougar hitters he faced, including nine in a row between the fourth and sixth innings.
Despite the tough opening game, Saint Xavier bounced back to win the second game behind a solid pitching performance by senior rightie James Williams (Steger, Ill./Bloom). Williams improved to 2-1 on the season by pitching five innings of two-hit baseball. The Cougars jumped on the board early in the contest when senior first baseman Matt Van Mill (Palos Heights, Ill./Bishop McNamara) doubled down the left field line. A throwing error by the IIT third baseman plated Van Mill to give the Cougars a one-run advantage. SXU struck again in the fourth when Van Mill singled home junior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich). Van Mill came home on a two-out double later in the inning by sophomore third baseman Austin Lehmann (Shorewood, Ill./Minooka).
Van Mill and O'Brien both led the Cougars at the plate in game two with 2-for- 3 performances. SXU tacked on an insurance run in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead, while sophomore setup-man Ken Hurta (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) threw a scoreless sixth inning for Saint Xavier. IIT threatened in the bottom of the seventh off Saint Xavier closer Joe Branigan (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South). A two-run homer by the Scarlet Hawks made the score 4-2 and a walk brought the tying run to the plate. O'Brien made a nice defensive play up the middle to record the final out.
SXU (12-9 overall/3-2 CCAC) continues play on Thursday, March 26, with a non-conference doubleheader at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field against Mount Mercy College (Iowa) at 1:30 p.m. The Cougars return to CCAC action Friday at home against Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) at 3:30 p.m., a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Milwaukee, but was moved to Chicago due to unplayable field conditions at Cardinal Stritch.