Baseball - Wed, Apr. 8, 2009
CHICAGO - Junior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) went a combined 4-for-5 with a pair of homers to lead the Saint Xavier University baseball team to a doubleheader sweep of Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.) in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action Wednesday at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars (23-9 overall/12-2 CCAC) won game one, 10-4, and then blew up for an 18-7 victory in the nightcap to run their season-long win streak to 12 games. On the day, the SXU bats exploded for 23 hits, including six home runs. Seniors Don Skelly (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) and Matt Van Mill (Palos Heights, Ill./Bishop McNamara) each homered twice in game two.

In game one, senior southpaw Kyle Zilis (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) threw six solid innings allowing four runs (three earned), while striking out 10 Crimson Wave hitters. The Cougars put up three runs in the first frame and never trailed the rest of the way. Junior outfielder Zach Clements (Berwyn, Ill./Morton) went 3-for-3 with a double and a two-RBI single in the opening frame. SXU struck the final blow with a four-run fifth inning that included a two-run homer to centerfield by O'Brien (his third RBI of game one). Sophomore third baseman Austin Lehmann (Shorewood, Ill./Minooka) and junior left fielder Tony Testin (Shorewood, Ill./Joliet Catholic) both finished with two hits. Sophomore reliever Ken Hurta (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) finished off the seventh inning facing three batters and ending the game inducing a double play.

In game two, Saint Xavier battled back from an early deficit with big innings to eventually win by the 10-run rule in five innings. The Cougars trailed, 5-2, heading into the bottom half of the second inning. However, SXU's bats erupted for seven runs in the frame, highlighted by a three-run homer by Skelly, a two-RBI double by O'Brien and a two-run homer by Van Mill to take a 9-5 lead. Saint Xavier did not let up in the third inning and it was deja vu as Skelly led off the inning with a solo homer and Van Mill eventually cleared the bases with a grand slam to deep left centerfield to make give the Cougars a 15-7 advantage. SXU tacked on three more in the fourth thanks to another O'Brien homer off the top of the wall in right field. Sophomore Joe Branigan (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) picked up the win tossing 3.1 innings of two-run baseball (one earned) with three strikeouts evening his overall record to 1-1 on the season.

With Wednesday's sweep, Saint Xavier improves to 23-9 overall on the season and 12-2 in CCAC play. The Cougars continue conference play with a three-game set against Robert Morris College (Ill.) beginning Friday, April 10. Friday will be a nine-inning affair at RMC's field in Bensenville, Ill. Game time is set for 3 p.m. The Cougars and Eagles will square again on Saturday at Saint Xavier with a pair of seven-inning contests beginning at 1 p.m.