CHICAGO – A two-run homer to left field by senior designated hitter Mike Pokers (Lansing, Ill./Andrean) in the bottom of the eighth inning helped the Saint Xavier University baseball team score three late runs in the second game of a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) doubleheader with Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) and capture a 8-6 victory Wednesday afternoon at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars dropped the first game by a score of 8-5 and desperately needed a win in the late game to keep its postseason hopes alive as one of the six teams competing for a spot in next week's CCAC Tournament. SXU also got a RBI single from sophomore third baseman Bryan Villanova (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence) in the seventh inning to spark the late three-run surge. With the split, Saint Xavier sits at 21-17 overall and 16-11 in conference play.
Senior catcher Tony O'Shea (Valparaiso, Ind./Mount Carmel) paced the Cougar offense in game one going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Pokers had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh as well. Cardinal Stritch went up 3-0 heading to the bottom of the second before Saint Xavier took advantage of a pair of walks to open the frame and tied the game behind a RBI single by freshman shortstop Alec Barnhart (Hometown, Ill./Oak Lawn Community), a sacrifice fly by freshman second baseman Brian McQuillan (Evergreen Park, Ill./Brother Rice) and a RBI groundout by Villanova. Unfortunately, fielding errors led to runs for the Wolves in both the top of the fourth and fifth innings giving the visitors a 5-3 advantage. A walk with the bases loaded and a two-run single in the top of the seventh helped CSU extend the lead to 8-3 and the two-run single by Pokers in the bottom of the frame proved to be the rest of the game's scoring. Senior right-hander Lucas Fritsch (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) got the loss (4-4) on the mound throwing all seven frames and allowing 11 hits, eight runs (one earned) and three walks with six strikeouts.
Cardinal Stritch got on the scoreboard early in game two plating three runs in the top of the first inning highlighted by a two-run single. In the bottom of the fourth, SXU cut into the deficit with a two-run single by O'Shea with two outs. The Wolves answered with two more runs in the top of the fifth on a two-run double, but the Cougars tied the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the frame thanks to a RBI groundout by Villanova and a two-run single by freshman centerfielder Steve Carrabotta (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew). SXU carried the offensive momentum into the late innings scoring a run in the seventh off Villanova's RBI single and then getting the two-run blast from Pokers in the eighth. Cardinal Stritch threatened in the top of the ninth loading the bases with one out, but after scoring a run off a sacrifice fly, sophomore reliever Dan Wetzel (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) got the next two batters to fly out to end the game. Wetzel earned the win (4-2) going the final 3.1 innings and giving up just four hits, a run (earned) and a walk with one strikeout.
Saint Xavier (21-17 overall/16-11 CCAC) returns to action on Friday, April 26, with its final home game of the regular season. The Cougars host conference rival University of St. Francis (Ill.) at Ferrell Field for a nine-inning affair starting at 3:30 p.m. Prior to the game, SXU will honor the six seniors on its 2013 roster.