Elgin, Ill. – Picking up where it left off at last year's Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Baseball Tournament, Saint Xavier University made a statement in the 2017 CCAC Tournament opener Friday with the No. 5 seeded Cougars taking down No. 4 seed Purdue University-Northwest (Ind.), 13-2, in seven innings via the mercy rule at Hoffer Field in Elgin, Ill. The Cougars (26-27 overall) got a great complete game pitching performance from junior right-hander Tyler Hebel (Waterloo, Ill./Waterloo) and a pair of homers by senior right fielder Ryan Pellack (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) to highlight the big game. Freshman third baseman Matt Monahan (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) also hit a home run in the game to help SXU pull away in the later innings. Last season, Saint Xavier swept the field with four straight wins to capture the program's first conference tournament crown.
After a pair of scoreless innings to open the game, Pellack got things rolling for the Cougars with a two-run homer over the wall in left centerfield to build a 2-0 lead. The Pride cut the early deficit in half in the top of the fourth with an RBI single, but a huge six-run frame by SXU in the bottom of the fifth swung the momentum back to the victors. In the big inning, Saint Xavier got RBI singles from senior centerfielder Alex Neufeld (Tinley Park, Ill./Roosevelt University/Lincoln-Way North) and freshman first baseman Ben Zordani (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) as well as a big two-run, pinch-hit single by senior Declan Dennehy (Chicago, Ill./Ave Maria/Mount Carmel). PNW added another RBI single in the top of the sixth to make the score, 8-2. However, SXU was not done with Monahan opening the bottom of the sixth with a solo homer to right centerfield and Zordani posting a two-run single up the middle two batters later to extend the lead to 11-2. Pellack ended the game early with no outs in the bottom of the seventh crushing another two-run shot to left field. Hebel improved to 6-5 on the year with the victory pitching all seven frames and allowing just seven hits, two runs (both earned) and four walks with a strikeout.
Saint Xavier (26-27 overall/15-11 CCAC) continues tournament play on Saturday, May 6, at 1:30 p.m. at Hoffer Field against the winner of tonight's first round game between No. 1 seed and host Judson University (Ill.) and No. 8 seed Indiana University-South Bend. The winner Saturday advances to Monday's winner's bracket with a 10:30 a.m. match-up.
Click HERE to view the second photo gallery from SXU's big 13-2 win over Purdue-Northwest