Baseball - Sun, May 6, 2007
Normal, Ill. - Despite only taking one of three games in its weekend series at Redbird Field with NCAA Division I opponent Illinois State University, the Saint Xavier University baseball team proved itself a tough opponent for a foe at any collegiate level of competition. The Cougars (29-19 overall) defeated the 'Birds, 7-2, in Saturday's first game, but then dropped game two, 6-2. The third and final game Sunday afternoon turned into quite a battle, but ISU was able to come out on top with a 2-1 victory in 11 innings.

In the first game of the series Saturday, Saint Xavier was able to put together a huge fifth inning plating six runs to take a 6-0 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, freshman right fielder Zach Clements (Berwyn, Ill./Morton) reached on a fielder's choice as freshman first baseman Mark Siefert (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) came in to score the first run of the game. Sophomore center fielder Don Skelly (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) and freshman left fielder Tony Testin (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) followed with back-to-back RBI singles to widen the lead to 3-0 and then senior second baseman Craig Buske (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) doubled into right center field to drive in the fourth run of the inning. A RBI single by senior designated hitter Ryan Buchler (Schererville, Ind./South Suburban CC) plated the fifth run of the frame for the Cougars and Buchler was later caught stealing as Buske scored from third base to end the inning.

Illinois State was never able to threaten the lead in the game as Saint Xavier was able to add a final run in the top of the eighth inning on a RBI single by freshman shortstop John O'Brien (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich). Junior left-hander Kyle Zilis (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) picked up the game-one win (4-1) in relief of senior starter Ryan Quigley (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic). Quigley threw the first two innings and allowed no hits or runs with a walk and two strikeouts, while Zilis threw the next four innings and gave up just four hits, one run (earned), and no walks with three strikeouts. Testin went 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a RBI.

The ISU pitching staff held the SXU bats in check for most of the second game Saturday en route to the 6-2 loss. Testin brought home the Cougars only two runs of the game in the top of the fifth inning with a two-RBI single, but the Redbirds had already established a 5-0 lead heading into the fifth frame. Saint Xavier posted seven hits in the nightcap. Junior right-hander Dan Miller (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) suffered the loss (4-3) in game two throwing 6.2 innings and allowing nine hits, six runs (all earned), and three walks with two strikeouts.

Pitching was the name of the game for the impressive third game of the weekend series. Sophomore rightie Bryant Myjak (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) was outstanding for SXU in only his sixth start of the season throwing eight innings and giving up just five hits, one run (unearned), and no walks with a strikeout. Junior reliever Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) threw the next two innings for the Cougars and allowed no hits or runs and just one walk. Unfortunately for SXU, the Illinois State pitching was tough as well and the Cougar offense was limited to just five hits in the game.

Saint Xavier had a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Brian Grupp (Granger, Ind./Mishawaka Penn) in the top of the fourth. However, in the bottom of the ninth, ISU was able to tie the game on a sacrifice fly and sent things into extra innings. The Cougars managed only one hit over the next two innings and in the bottom of the 11th inning, the Redbirds got a RBI single off senior right-hander Shawn Bosler (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) to take the game, 2-1, and the series.

Saint Xavier (29-19 overall/18-2 CCAC) heads to LaCrosse, Wis., on Tuesday, May 8, to begin play in the 2007 NAIA Region VII Baseball Tournament hosted by Viterbo University (Wis.). The Cougars await their seed and pairing for the upcoming tournament.