St. Petersburg, Fla. – Paced by five combined hits and three runs scored by junior right fielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley), the Saint Xavier University baseball team has won two of its last three games this week during its annual "Spring Break" trip in Florida. On Monday, the Cougars (5-4 overall) took down University of Saint Francis (Ind.), 7-4, but had their Tuesday game against Florida Christian College canceled due to rain. In a Wednesday doubleheader against Avila University (Mo.), SXU won the first game by a 9-3 score and then fell in the late game, 4-3. Klein went 5-for-11 at the plate over the three-game stretch racking up three runs scored and a pair of RBI.
In Monday's match-up against USF, Saint Xavier gave up three early runs in the first two innings to dig a 3-0 hole. A two-out RBI single by junior left fielder Brad Myjak (Tinley Park, Ill./Mount Carmel) plated a run for the Cougars in the bottom of the third to make it a 3-1 game. A sacrifice fly by Saint Francis in the top of the fifth made it a three-run game again, but SXU responded in the bottom of the frame scoring two runs on RBI from Klein and senior third baseman Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean). An RBI single by Klein in the seventh tied the game, 4-4, and then the Cougars added three more runs in the eighth to pick up the 7-4 victory. USF had two errors in the eighth that helped score two of the runs and the third came off an RBI single by senior catcher Tony O'Shea (Valparaiso, Ind./Mount Carmel). Senior right-hander Lucas Fritsch (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) got the win (2-0) in relief of junior starter John Smith (Evergreen Park, Ill./Moraine Valley CC/Evergreen Park). Smith threw the first seven innings and gave up nine hits, four runs (three earned) and a walk with three strikeouts. Fritsch pitched the eighth and allowed one hit and no runs with a strikeout. Sophomore righty Dan Wetzel (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) got the save (2) allowing one hit and no runs in the ninth.
O'Shea led the offensive attack for Saint Xavier in Wednesday's first game against Avila going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. The Cougars got a solid pitching performance from Fritsch, who threw all seven frames and gave up just six hits, three runs (one earned) and two walks with three strikeouts to move to 3-0 on the year. SXU scored at least a run in every inning, but the second, to pull away for the 9-3 victory. Sophomore designated hitter Bryan Villanova (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence) homered in the game, while Myjak recorded a triple. Klein had the hot bat in the nightcap going 3-for-4 with a run scored, while freshman second baseman Brian McQuillan (Evergreen Park, Ill./Brother Rice) had two hits. Walks and a passed ball hurt the Cougars leading to three runs for Avila in the top of the fourth. SXU fought back and tied the game, 3-3, heading into the seventh inning, but an RBI single in the top of the seventh gave Avila the lead for good. Senior catcher Matt Munizzi (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) had both RBI for the Cougars in the late game. Wetzel suffered the loss (0-1) in relief pitching the seventh frame and allowing three hits, one run (earned) and no walks.
Saint Xavier (5-4 overall) is off Thursday and returns to action on Friday, March 15, with a nine-inning conference game against Purdue University-North Central (Ind.) in Florida. The game is scheduled for a 9 a.m. (eastern) start.