Winter Haven, Fla. – Kicking off the opening weekend of its nine-day, Spring Break trip to Florida, the Saint Xavier University baseball team got impressive offensive production from junior third baseman Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ind./Andrean) as well as some nice pitching performances to go 3-1 on the weekend in Winter Haven, Fla. On Saturday, the Cougars (6-2 overall) swept a doubleheader from Bethel College (Ind.) winning the first game, 2-0, and the second game, 5-3. In a doubleheader versus Gannon University (Pa.) Sunday, SXU dropped the opening game, 4-2, but bounced back with a 5-2 victory in the nightcap. Pokers went a combined 6-for-11 at the plate on the weekend with three doubles, two runs scored and five RBI.
Sophomore right-hander Scott Vachon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) moved to 2-0 on the year after pitching a beauty Saturday in his 2-0 decision over the Pilots. He threw all seven innings and allowed just five hits and no walks to earn the shutout, while striking out eight batters. In the bottom of the second inning, sophomore left fielder Brad Myjak (Tinley Park, Ill./Mount Carmel) led off the frame with a double and later scored on a RBI single by freshman designated hitter Bryan Villanova (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence). Later in the inning, freshman first baseman Andy Kovarik (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman centerfielder Tyler Peper (New Palestine, Ill./New Palestine) to complete the game's scoring.
Pokers went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI to lead the way in Saint Xavier's 5-3 victory against Bethel in the late game Saturday. Junior righty Mike Stirling (Thornton, Ill./Mount Carmel) looked good on the mound for the Cougars throwing all seven innings and giving up just seven hits, three runs (one earned) and a walk with three strikeouts to move his record to 2-0 this year. All of the scoring happened over the first three innings as SXU scored three runs in the top of the first off a two-RBI single by Pokers followed by a fielding error in the outfield. The Pilots would tie the game, 3-3, in the bottom of the second, but the Cougars would answer with two more runs in the third sparked by a RBI double from Pokers. Sophomore right fielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley) had a pair of doubles in the game for SXU.
The Cougars gave up an early 2-0 lead against Gannon in Sunday's first game by allowing four runs over the bottom halves of the fifth and sixth innings to lose a 4-2 decision. Pokers and Klein each posted three hits in the game to lead the offense. Junior left-hander Mike Klett (Plainfield, Ill./Western Michigan/Plainfield North) took the loss (0-2) throwing 5.2 innings and allowing six hits, four runs (all earned) and three walks with six strikeouts. SXU would not have the same problem in the second game of the day taking an early 5-0 lead and holding on for the 5-2 victory. Senior righty Austin Lehmann (Shorewood, Ill./Minooka) picked up the win (1-0) throwing the first five innings and giving up just three hits, no runs and a walk with three strikeouts. Klein helped lead the offense in the late game Sunday going 1-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and two RBI.
Saint Xavier (6-2 overall) continues its Spring Break trip in Florida with a doubleheader on Monday, February 27, against University of Mary (N.D.). The first game of the twin bill is scheduled for a 12 p.m. (eastern) start in Winter Haven, Fla.