Baseball - Thu, Mar. 4, 2010
Daytona Beach, Fla. - Led by a combined four hits and a run scored by senior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich), the No. 24 ranked Saint Xavier University baseball team split a pair of seven-inning games against two of the top ranked teams in the NAIA Wednesday at Sliwa Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Cougars (4-3 overall) dropped a heartbreaker against No. 10 Bellevue University (Neb.), 3-2, despite outhitting the opposition, 8-3, in the first game. However, SXU bounced back with a big 3-1 victory over No. 7 ranked Embry-Riddle University (Fla.) thanks in part to a stellar pitching performance by freshman right-hander Mike Stirling (Thornton, Ill./Mount Carmel).

Senior first baseman Ken Tezak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a triple and a run scored to lead the Cougars in Wednesday's first game against Bellevue. Tezak's triple to open the second inning gave Saint Xavier the game's first run when he later scored on a passed ball. However, Bellevue tied the game in the bottom of the frame after a pair of wild pitches helped a run cross home plate. A sac bunt and a sacrifice fly in the third and fourth innings tacked on two more runs for Bellevue to put the team ahead, 3-1, after five innings of play. SXU would add a run in the top of the sixth off a RBI single by senior designated hitter Mark Siefert (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic), but it would not be enough to overcome the two-run deficit. Freshman rightie Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean) took the loss on the mound for the Cougars throwing all seven innings and giving up three hits, three runs (all earned) and five walks with two strikeouts.

A two-out single by freshman left fielder Tony O'Shea (Valparaiso, Ind./Mount Carmel) in the bottom of the second inning led to SXU's first run in its 3-1 win over Embry-Riddle Wednesday. O'Shea advanced to third on a single by sophomore third baseman Tom Simek (New Lenox, Ill./St. Laurence) and scored from third on a passed ball to give the Cougars an early 1-0 advantage. The Eagles would tie the game in the fourth on a RBI single up the middle, but Saint Xavier would come up with two big runs in the sixth to secure the victory. Simek would bring home the first run off a sac bunt and senior second baseman Matt Mueller (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) would bring home the second after getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Stirling led the Cougars on the mound going all seven innings and allowing just five hits, one earned run and a walk with four strikeouts. Saint Xavier University (4-3 overall) returns to action on Thursday, March 4, with a doubleheader against Brescia University (Ky.). The twinbill is scheduled for a 12 p.m. (eastern) start in Sanford, Fla.