Baseball - Wed, Apr. 29, 2009
CHICAGO - Behind another stellar start on the mound for junior southpaw Jayson Koehn (Beecher, Ill./Beecher), the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University baseball team picked up a 1-0 victory against Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Olivet Nazarene University in a pitcher's duel Wednesday afternoon at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago. Koehn threw all nine innings, his fifth shutout and seventh complete game of the season, on the way to striking out five and allowing the Tigers just four hits and a walk. The Cougars continue to sit atop the CCAC standings with a 20-4 conference mark with just six games left to play in the regular season.
The game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Koehn had only been in trouble once in the second inning when ONU loaded the bases with two outs, but forced a grounder back to the mound to end the inning. He allowed three hits in the first three innings, but settled down to only allow a single hit over the remaining six frames. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars scratched out a run, which proved to be all their leftie ace would need. Senior centerfielder Don Skelly (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) singled to start off the inning and stole second base on the ensuing pitch. Skelly would then advance to third on a wild pitch during junior left fielder Tony Testin's (Shorewood, Ill./Joliet Catholic) at-bat, which ended in a walk. With runners on first and third and no outs, Olivet starter Elijah Smurthwaite was relieved by lefthander Erich Holsten, the reigning CCAC Pitcher of the Year. Junior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) stepped to the plate for the Cougars and legged out for a RBI infield single to second base, scoring Skelly and giving SXU the 1-0 advantage.
Holsten and Koehn battled back and forth for the remainder of the game, both throwing shutout baseball. Koehn improves his overall team-leading record to 9-0 on the season with his four-hit, five-strikeout performance Wednesday. He also lowered his already stellar earned run average (ERA) to 0.30, which leads all divisions of collegiate baseball (NAIA and all three NCAA Divisions). He has also now thrown 35.0 consecutive scoreless innings, a new record at SXU.
Saint Xavier (34-12 overall/20-4 CCAC) are now a perfect 16-0 this season at home. The Cougars continue play this weekend with a three-game series against Purdue University-North Central (Ind.), which could likely decide the conference champion. SXU is currently one game up on PUNC in the CCAC standings. Game one will take place on Friday, May 1, in Westville, Ind., at 3 p.m. Saint Xavier returns home on Saturday, May 2, to wrap up the series with a 12 p.m. doubleheader at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field. Former SXU legends Kevin Sefcik and Steve Wojciechowski, both former major leaguers, will have their numbers retired in a ceremony between games.