Chillicothe, Ohio - Junior catcher Jim Pipolo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) combined for four hits and two RBI to help the Saint Xavier University baseball team sweep of pair of games over Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Ohio) Saturday afternoon at Chillicothe Paints Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio. Both games ended with a score of 5-4 and the Cougars scored the game-winning runs in the final inning of each contest. Pipolo had a big day for SXU going a combined 4-for-7 with three doubles and the go-ahead RBI single in the nightcap. With the two victories, Saint Xavier improves to 6-10-1 on the year, while MVNU falls to 3-3 overall.
In Saturday's opener, a RBI double by Pipolo and a RBI single by sophomore first baseman Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean) gave SXU an early 2-1 lead after one inning of play. However, Mount Vernon Nazarene would plate three unanswered runs over the next three frames and took a 4-2 lead into the fifth inning. Senior right fielder Joe Dispensa (Chicago, Ill./St. Joseph's College/Mesa CC/St. Rita) would tie the game, 4-4, on a two-out, two-RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, which would eventually send the game to extra frames since neither team scored in the final two innings. Freshman left fielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley) ended the game in dramatic fashion with a two-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Cougars the one-run victory. Sophomore right-hander Lucas Fritsch (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) picked up the win in relief of senior starter Ken Hurta (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen). Fritsch threw a perfect eighth inning to improve to 1-2 on the season, while Hurta went seven innings and gave up eight hits, four runs (three earned) and five walks with five strikeouts.
A sweep did not appear likely in the early goings of game two with Saint Xavier falling behind 3-0 after the first three innings of play. In the top of the fourth, Klein hit a two-RBI single with two outs to cut into the deficit, but MVNU would answer with another run in the bottom of the frame to make the score, 4-2. The score would remain the same heading into the seventh and final inning when the SXU offense rattled off a double and three straight RBI singles capped by Pipolo to take a 5-4 advantage into the bottom of the frame. Mount Vernon Nazarene would threaten by loading the bases, but Fritsch would shine again in relief coming in to strike out the final two batters to preserve the win and earn his first save of the season. Senior right-hander Joe Branigan (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) logged the win (1-1) as the SXU starter throwing 6.1 innings and allowing seven hits, four runs (three earned) and four walks with a pair of strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (6-10-1 overall) opens its Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) slate at home on Friday, March 18, against Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.). The nine-inning game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago.