CHICAGO - Despite four combined hits and a pair of runs scored by junior catcher Jim Pipolo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), the Saint Xavier University baseball team struggled to score and were swept in a doubleheader by Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Trinity International University (Ill.) Thursday afternoon at Richard R. Ferrell Field in Chicago. The Cougars (24-23-1 overall/16-9 CCAC) dropped the first game, 8-2, and then fell in the nightcap, 4-1. SXU fell behind early in the day giving up five runs behind four hits by the Trojans in the top of the first inning of the opener. The Cougars are fighting for the sixth and final spot in next week's 2011 CCAC Baseball Tournament and has five games, all conference match-ups, this weekend to try and capture the final berth.
After Trinity International took a 5-0 lead in the first inning of game one, neither team put up any runs on the board until the bottom of the fourth when Saint Xavier cut into the early deficit with a sacrifice fly by freshman shortstop Justin Smykowski (Crestwood, Ill./Shepard). However, TIU got the run back in the top of the fifth on a RBI single and added two more runs to its total in the sixth with a two-RBI single. Unfortunately, the Cougars would only score a run the rest of the way and left the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings. In fact, SXU left 13 runners stranded on the base paths in Thursday's opener. Sophomore right-hander Lucas Fritsch (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) took the loss (4-3) for Saint Xavier throwing all seven innings and giving up 12 hits, eight runs (seven earned) and six walks with a pair of strikeouts.
SXU managed just four total hits in the nightcap led by junior designated hitter Brett Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic), who went 2-for-3 with a RBI. The game started as a pitcher's duel and stayed scoreless until TIU went ahead 1-0 in the top of the fifth on a RBI groundout following a one-out triple. A sacrifice fly and a fielding error helped the Trojans extend their lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning before Ratajczak got the Cougars on the board in the bottom of the frame with a single that brought home Pipolo from second base. A RBI single by Trinity International in the top of the seventh would cap the day's scoring as SXU went down in order to end the game. Freshman right-hander Dan Maton (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) would suffer the loss (1-3) in the late game going 5.2 innings and allowing five hits, three runs (two earned) and a walk with no strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (24-23-1 overall/16-9 CCAC) continues conference play on Friday, April 29, with a key game against Purdue University-North Central (Ind.) at Ferrell Field. The nine-inning affair is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start. SXU is battling PUNC for the final spot in next week's six-team CCAC Baseball Tournament.