Baseball - Wed, Apr. 22, 2009
Bourbonnais, Ill. - Despite solid pitching performances by seniors Kyle Zilis (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) and Dan Miller (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic), the Saint Xavier University baseball team split a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) doubleheader Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University at Watson Field in Bourbonnais, Ill. The Cougars (30-11 overall19-4 CCAC) dropped the first game, 3-2, but rebounded to win the second, 4-1. The split pushed SXU down a spot in the conference standings behind only Purdue University-North Central (Ind.) and its 17-3 CCAC mark. The Cougars will play a three-game conference series with the Panthers starting on Friday, May 1.

Zilis was the tough luck loser in game one going the distance (six innings), allowing six hits and striking out four. ONU struck early in the game putting up three runs in the first inning thanks to an SXU defensive miscue. With the bases loaded and one out, Zilis appeared to get a fly ball to short centerfield, but miscommunication between the Cougars' infield and outfield caused the ball to drop in for a single, scoring Olivet's second and third runs, which proved to be the difference in the ballgame. Junior second baseman Matt Mueller (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) finished 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored. SXU threatened in the top of the sixth when junior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) led off the inning with a double to right centerfield. Senior first baseman Matt Van Mill (Palos Heights, Ill./Bishop McNamara) singled O'Brien home to make the score, 3-2. Van Mill advanced to second on a ground ball to move into scoring position, but the Cougars were unable to come up with a clutch, two-out hit. SXU went down in order in the top of the seventh, saddling Zilis with just his second loss of the year (6-2 overall).

Despite the tough loss in game one, Saint Xavier bounced back quickly thanks to the arm of Miller. He tossed a complete game holding ONU to only one run, while scattering six hits. The Cougar defense aided him throughout the game turning three double plays to thwart any Olivet rally attempts. SXU got on the board first thanks to a second-inning, two out rally. Junior right fielder Zach Clements (Berwyn, Ill./Morton) singled and scored from first on freshman catcher Jim Pipolo's (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) double to right centerfield. The Cougars struck again in the fourth inning thanks to three more doubles. Junior designated hitter Ken Tezak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) led off the inning with a two-bagger. Clements doubled down the right field line scoring Tezak. With two outs, the SXU hitters were clutch once again as senior centerfielder Don Skelly (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) doubled home Clements, giving the Cougars a 3-0 advantage. ONU would get on the board in the bottom half of the inning with an unearned run due to a drop third strike call, but that was all Miller would allow the rest of the way. SXU tacked on an insurance run in the sixth as Clements doubled and later scored on an errant pickoff throw to third base by Olivet. Clements finished 3-for-3 in game two, with two doubles and three runs scored. Miller improved to 7-2 overall on the season.

Saint Xavier continues its 2009 campaign on Thursday, April 23, with a. non-conference doubleheader with NCAA Division II foe Lewis University (Ill.). The long-time rivalry picked up last season after years of no meetings between the two tradition rich programs. The Cougars took three games from the Flyers in 2008. The two seven-inning contests are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field on the Chicago campus of Saint Xavier University.