Hammond, Ind. – Despite five hits, three runs scored and two RBIs by freshman third baseman Matt Monahan (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West), the Saint Xavier University baseball team dropped a pair of tight games with Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Purdue University-Northwest (Ind.) Tuesday afternoon at Dowling Park in Hammond, Ind. The Cougars (21-23 overall/12-7 CCAC) tried to rally late in both games falling 5-4 in game one and 9-8 in game two. SXU had runners in scoring position in the final inning of both games Tuesday before double plays ended each contest.
Saint Xavier scored three runs in the top of the first inning behind a solo homer to left field by senior right fielder Ryan Pellack (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) and RBI singles by junior designated hitter Erik Eggert (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) and freshman catcher Matt Bunetta (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central). The Pride scored a run in the bottom half of the inning on a double play with the bases loaded. PNW added two more runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 3-3 on back-to-back RBI hits. A pair of RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth put Purdue-Northwest ahead, 5-3. Sophomore second baseman Garrett Bright (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South) brought home Monahan from second base with an RBI single to centerfield in the top of the fifth, but that would complete the scoring for the Cougars. Freshman right-hander Tim Brokup (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) got the loss (1-4) for SXU pitching the first three innings and allowing four hits, four runs (all earned) and a walk with one strikeout.
Things did not look promising for the Cougars early in game two despite a solo homer by Monahan in the first inning as the Pride responded with eight runs over the first six frames. In the top of the seventh, Bunetta hit a two-run homer to left field to spark a five-run inning for Saint Xavier to make the score, 8-6. Pellack and Monahan also had RBI hits in the frame. The Pride went up 9-6 in the bottom half of the seventh off a sacrifice fly. After a scoreless eighth inning, SXU made things interesting in the ninth getting RBI singles by Pellack and junior pinch hitter Brian McNamara (Franklin Park, Ill./Morton College/East Leyden) to close the gap to a run, 9-8, with one out. However, with the tying run at third base, the Cougars ended the game on a double play. Freshman righty Jared Jones (Plainfield, Ill./Joliet Catholic) falls to 3-4 with the loss as the starter. He threw the first 4.2 innings and gave up seven hits, seven runs (all earned) and two walks with three strikeouts.
Saint Xavier (21-23 overall/12-7 CCAC) hosts the first of a three-game conference series with Robert Morris University (Ill.) on Friday, April 21. The nine-inning game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago.