Winter Haven, Fla. -
Saint Xavier University baseball coach Mike Dooley
picked up career victory No. 700 over the weekend as the Cougars opened their
2011 campaign with a dominant 17-4 win over Gannon University (Pa.) as part of
the Russ-Matt Invitational last Saturday afternoon in Winter Haven, Fla. Unfortunately since the big season-opening
victory, SXU has struggled to pick up some more going 0-6-1 over its next seven
games to start the year with a 1-6-1 overall mark. One bright spot in the line-up for the
Cougars so far this spring has been junior catcher Jim Pipolo
Ill./Sandburg). Playing in all seven
games, Pipolo has hit .375 (9-for-24) with two doubles and a team-leading seven
SXU scored early and often in
the big win over Gannon taking a 10-3 lead after just three innings of
play. Junior second baseman Tom Simek
(New Lenox, Ill./St. Laurence) and sophomore first baseman Mike Pokers
(Lansing, Ill./Andrean) each posted three hits in the victory. Simek also tallied three runs scored and four
RBI, while Pipolo finished with a double and three RBI. Senior right-hander Ken Hurta (Midlothian,
Ill./Bremen) picked up the victory on the mound throwing 6.2 innings and
allowing three hits, four runs (two earned) and four walks with eight strikeouts. The Cougars could not carry the offensive
momentum into game two against the Golden Knights falling 3-2 after giving up
two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
A RBI double apiece for red-shirt junior infielder Austin Lehmann
(Shorewood, Ill./Minooka) and junior designated hitter Brett Ratajczak (Joliet,
Ill./Joliet Catholic) in the third inning gave Saint Xavier a 2-1 lead, which
held going into the seventh inning. The
Cougars left runners stranded at second and third base in both the top of the
sixth and seventh innings before giving up back-to-back RBI singles in the
bottom of the seventh to drop the game.
In Sunday's first game
against Davenport University (Mich.), SXU again gave up an early lead after
jumping out to a 2-0 advantage following a two-run, third-inning homer by
freshman outfielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley). The Panthers would tie things up, 2-2, in the
bottom of the fifth and the game would advance to extra frames. In the bottom of the eighth, an infield error
by the Cougars put the go-ahead run at second base and a one-out RBI single
gave Davenport the 3-2 victory. Errors
continued to plague Saint Xavier in its second game Sunday against William Penn
University (Iowa). In the 8-5 loss, SXU
committed three miscues and gave up two unearned runs. Freshmen Corey Lasky (Vernon Hills,
Ill./Stevenson) and Justin Smykowski (Crestwood, Ill./Shepard) each recorded
two hits and a run scored for Saint Xavier in the game.
In a nine-inning game Monday
against Bethel College (Ind.), the fielding troubles continued as four errors
helped the Pilots pick up a 6-5 win over the Cougars. Smykowski racked up three hits, while Pipolo
went 2-for-5 at the plate. SXU fell
behind 5-2 after four innings of play before scoring three runs over the next
two frames to tie the game in the top of the sixth. A one-out triple followed by a RBI single by
Bethel in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the difference as both teams
went scoreless over the final three innings.
Saint Xavier came back Tuesday afternoon and played a tough Warner
Southern University (Fla.) team to a 4-4 tie in 12 innings. Pipolo finished that game 3-for-6 with two
RBI, while senior third baseman Matt Erickson (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) belted
out four hits on the day. The two teams
combined for 30 hits with the Cougars posting 13 of them.
On Wednesday, Saint Xavier
faced off against Webber International University (Fla.) for a doubleheader and
dropped them both by scores of 6-2 and 8-7.
WIU jumped out to an early 6-1 lead through five innings of game one
despite three hits and a pair of RBI by Ratajczak. In the second game, SXU built a 6-1 lead of
its own heading into the bottom of the sixth, but gave up seven runs in the
lower half of the frame to lose another one-run decision. Senior centerfielder Anthony Maziur (Oak
Forest, Ill./NIU/Oak Forest) went 3-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and
two RBI to lead the Cougar offense.
Saint Xavier (1-6-1 overall) continues play in Florida
on Thursday, March 3, with a doubleheader against Notre Dame College
(Ohio). The first of the two games
begins at 11 a.m. (central) Thursday.