CHICAGO – A two-run single by freshman shortstop Alec Barnhart (Hometown, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) in the sixth and a RBI single by junior first baseman Thomas Keating (Chicago, Ill./Joliet JC/St. Laurence) in the seventh helped the Saint Xavier University baseball team score five runs over the final two innings to rally for a thrilling 5-4 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) game one victory over Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in Saturday's doubleheader at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the second game of the twin-bill did not fare as well as the Tigers scored early and often en route to a 22-4 win in the day's second game. With Friday's 7-2 win, ONU takes the three-game conference series.
A sacrifice fly and a RBI single by the Tigers in the second inning as well as a two-run double in the fourth gave Olivet Nazarene a 4-0 lead through the first five frames of Saturday's opener. Saint Xavier took advantage of a series of miscues by ONU in the bottom of the sixth, including an error, a hit batsman and a walk with the bases loaded, to plate three runs and cut the deficit to a single run. Junior right fielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley) led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and later scored on a single by Keating to tie the game. The Cougars scored the go-ahead run when freshman second baseman Brian McQuillan (Evergreen Park, Ill./Brother Rice) was hit by a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded. Keating led the offense going 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored and a RBI. Sophomore Dan Wetzel (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) recorded the win (2-2) in relief pitching the final inning and giving up no hits, runs or walks with a strikeout.
Keating was key to most of Saint Xavier's offensive production in game two going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI and a run scored. The Cougars scored a run in each of the first two innings, but allowed six runs over the span to fall behind early, 6-2. Nine hits and an error helped lead to a 10-run, fourth inning for Olivet Nazarene and put the game out of reach. SXU finished the game with seven total hits, but also committed five errors in the field. The highlight of the game for the Cougars was Keating's two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Klein suffered the loss (2-1) as the starter throwing the first 3.1 innings and allowing six hits, eight runs (six earned) and three walks with a strikeout. He was one of five pitchers in the game for SXU.
Saint Xavier (11-8 overall/6-4 CCAC) returns to action on Tuesday, April 2, with a conference home doubleheader against Trinity International University (Ill.). The first game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start at Ferrell Field.