Baseball - Sat, Mar. 13, 2010
Lebanon, Ill. - Sophomore catchers Brett Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and Jim Pipolo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) combined for five hits, including two doubles and two homers, to lead the No. 24 Saint Xavier University baseball team to a pair of victories over McKendree University (Ill.) Saturday afternoon at Hypes Field in Lebanon, Ill. The Cougars (10-4 overall) scored two runs in the top of the eighth to capture a thrilling 9-7, extra-innings victory in game one and then held off a late rally attempt by the Bearcats in the nightcap to pick up a 10-9 decision. Ratajczak went 3-for-4 at the plate in the first game with two doubles, a homer and three RBI; while Pipolo finished 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBI.

Things did not look bright early on for SXU as McKendree took a 6-1 lead three innings into Saturday's first game. In the top of the fourth, the Cougars used a solo homer from senior first baseman Ken Tezak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and a sacrifice fly by freshman pinch-hitter Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean) to make the score, 6-3. The Bearcats would add a run in the bottom of the fourth off a sacrifice fly, but Saint Xavier would respond with four runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game, 7-7. The big inning was highlighted by a solo homer from senior shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) and a two-RBI double by Ratajczak. The game would remain tied until the eighth inning when Ratajczak would open the frame with a home run and senior second baseman Matt Mueller (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) would hit a RBI double to put SXU ahead, 9-7. Senior left-hander Jayson Koehn (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) improved to 3-0 this season throwing all eight innings for the Cougars and allowing nine hits, seven runs (six earned) and a walk with six strikeouts.

McKendree went ahead, 3-1, after the first three innings of game two, but the SXU bats would heat up again and a three-run homer by Pipolo would help his team plate four runs in the top of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. The Bearcats would tie the game, 5-5, with two runs in the fifth frame, but Saint Xavier would respond quickly again scoring five runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good. Senior left fielder Tony Testin (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic), senior designated hitter Mark Siefert (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic), junior centerfielder Anthony Maziur (Oak Forest, Ill./Northern Illinois/Oak Forest) and junior third baseman Matt Erickson (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) all recorded a RBI in the sixth inning for SXU. The Bearcats would score four runs over the final two innings to make things interesting, but left the game-tying run stranded at second base in the bottom of the seventh. Junior right-hander Ken Hurta (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) notched the win (2-1) on the mound pitching the first five innings and giving up nine hits, six runs (all earned) and a walk with three strikeouts.

Saint Xavier (10-4 overall) wraps up its four-game weekend series with McKendree University (Ill.) on Sunday, March 14, with another doubleheader at Hypes Field. The twin bill is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start.