Winter Haven, Fla. – Racking up 48 team hits over four games Thursday and Friday, the Saint Xavier University baseball team split the stretch and moved its overall record to 4-10 overall heading into the final day of play in Florida during its annual "Spring Break" trip. The Cougars split a Thursday doubleheader with Clarke University (Iowa) dropping the first game, 7-4, but bouncing back to take game two by a commanding 12-2 score. On Friday, SXU opened the day with a 10-6 loss to Saint Ambrose University (Iowa) before taking down Aquinas College (Mich.), 12-7. Senior outfielder Chris Klein (Huntley, Ill./Huntley) and freshman third baseman Bryan Polak (Alsip, Ill./Marist) helped lead the offensive charge Thursday and Friday. Klein combined for seven hits, four runs scored and two RBI; while Polak posted six total hits, four runs scored and six RBI.
In the first game of the twinbill with Clarke, Saint Xavier rallied to tie the game at 4-4 after three innings of play, but Clarke scored three more runs over the next two frames to pull away for good. Polak led the Cougars with two hits and two RBI. Senior right-hander Scott Vachon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) took the loss (0-2) throwing the first five frames and allowing 11 hits, seven runs (all earned) and no walks with five strikeouts. Sophomore shortstop Alec Barnhart (Hometown, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) was on fire at the plate in the second game going 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and five RBI. SXU jumped out to an 8-1 lead after four innings and were never threatened. Junior right-hander Dan Wetzel (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) earned the victory on the mound throwing six innings and giving up just eight hits, two runs (both earned) and three walks with three strikeouts. He moves to 1-1 on the year with the win. Junior first baseman Bryan Villanova (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence) also had a nice game for Saint Xavier with three hits (one double), two runs scored and two RBI.
The opening game Friday against Saint Ambrose was a tight one until the closing frames. The Fighting Bees clung to a 4-3 lead heading into the sixth inning before SAU scored six runs over the final two innings to secure the 10-6 win. Klein suffered the loss (0-1) going 5.2 innings and allowing 11 hits, eight runs (four earned) and three walks with six strikeouts. Polak tallied three RBI in the game, while senior first baseman Thomas Keating (Chicago, Ill./Joliet JC/St. Laurence) and junior infielder Damon Softcheck (Joliet, Ill./Triton JC/Joliet West) each recorded two hits and a RBI. In the second game against Aquinas, it was the Cougars' turn to rally scoring six runs in the top of the seventh to pick up the 12-7 win. Klein posted four hits and two runs scored, while Keating had two hits and three RBI. Sophomore right fielder Jim Augle (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) also aided the offensive with three hits and two runs scored. Freshman right-hander Jeremy Dryier (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) threw the first 5.2 frames and gave up five hits, six runs (all earned) and six walks with a strikeout. Freshman Adrian Luna (Chicago, Ill./Washington) earned the victory (2-1) in relief pitching the final 1.1 innings and allowing three hits, a run (earned) and a walk with one strikeout.
Saint Xavier (4-10 overall) wraps up its Florida trip on Saturday, March 15, with a pair of games. The Cougars take on Aquinas College (Mich.) first in a 10 a.m. (eastern) battle and then finish up with a 3 p.m. (eastern) game against Saint Ambrose University (Iowa).