Westville, Ind. – Junior third baseman Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean) went a combined 4-for-6 at the plate with a double, a triple, three runs scored and two RBI to lead the Saint Xavier University baseball team to a doubleheader split with Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Purdue University-North Central (Ind.) Saturday afternoon at Hicks Field in Westville, Ind. The Cougars (28-13 overall/14-5 CCAC) rode a nice start on the mound by junior left-hander Mike Klett (Plainfield, Ill./Western Michigan/Plainfield North) to a 6-2 victory in Saturday‘s opener, but lost an early 4-1 advantage in the second game to fall 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh. Klett threw six innings of game one and allowed seven hits, two runs (both earned) and a walk with seven strikeouts to move to 4-3 overall this season.
Continuing the hot offense the team had produced all week, SXU opened Saturday's first game with three straight singles and got RBI singles from sophomore left fielder Brad Myjak (Tinley Park, Ill./Mount Carmel) and freshman designated hitter Andy Kovarik (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) in the frame to help plate three runs and take an early 3-0 lead. A RBI single by Pokers and a RBI double by sophomore first baseman Thomas Keating (Chicago, Ill./Joliet Junior College/St. Laurence) in the third inning extended Saint Xavier's lead to five runs, 5-0. A two-RBI double by the Panthers made it, 5-2, in the bottom of the fourth, but the Cougars got a run back in the fifth on a RBI double by Pokers. PUNC had its chances, but left four runners stranded on the base paths over the final three frames. Senior right-hander Austin Lehmann (Shorewood, Ill./Minooka) threw the final inning for SXU allowing just one hit.
Pokers, senior second baseman Tom Simek (New Lenox, Ill./St. Laurence) and junior catcher Tony O'Shea (Valparaiso, Ind./Mount Carmel) each posted two hits in the nightcap for the Cougars. Saint Xavier did all of its offensive damage in the top of the second inning with two-RBI singles to right field by both Simek and O'Shea, respectively. SXU led 4-1 heading into the bottom of the second after the Panthers scored in the first on a wild pitch. PUNC would chip away at the deficit scoring a run in each of the second, third and fifth innings to tie the game. With Lehmann coming in to pitch the bottom of the seventh in relief of senior leftie Michael Gaffigan (Orland Park, Ill./Western Carolina/Triton CC/Sandburg), the Panthers got a one-out double and score the game-winning run on a single to right field following an intentional walk. Lehmann moved to 1-1 with the loss, while Gaffigan went six innings and gave up nine hits, four runs (all earned) and three walks with four strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (28-13 overall/14-5 CCAC) returns to Chicago to wrap up the series with Purdue University-North Central on Sunday, April 15. The Cougars will host a nine-inning, conference game tomorrow starting at noon and then play a seven-inning, non-conference game against the Panthers immediately following the first at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago.