Baseball - Mon, May 16, 2005
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - The No. 4 seeded Saint Xavier University baseball team refused to quit Sunday overcoming a four-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat No. 1 seeded and No. 12 ranked William Penn University (Iowa), 12-11, and win the 2005 NAIA Region VII Baseball Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As champions of Region VII, the Cougars (38-21 overall) advance to the NAIA Super Regional, a best-of-three series against NAIA Region VIII champion Aquinas College (Mich.). The winner of this week's Super Regional will earn a berth in the 2005 NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, beginning Friday, May 27.

SXU was 2-0 in the region tourney heading into its first meeting with William Penn Saturday, but the Statesmen were able to score a run in the top of the 11th inning off a two-out RBI single to pick up the 8-7, extra-innings win. Sophomore Nick Tantillo (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) went 3-for-4 in the game with a home run, three runs scored and a RBI to lead the Cougar offense at the plate, while sophomore leftie Kevin White (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) got the start on the mound pitching seven innings and allowing nine hits, four runs and three walks with eight strikeouts. Junior reliever Luke Gregerson (Lyons, Ill./Morton) took the loss pitching the final four frames and giving up five hits, four runs and two walks with two strikeouts.

With the loss, Saint Xavier was forced to play No. 2 seeded Olivet Nazarene University Saturday night to see who would face William Penn in Sunday's regional championship. The Cougars went to extra innings again against ONU, but this time came out on top, 6-5, when Tantillo brought home senior catcher Carlos Campos (Stickney, Ill./Morton) from third base on a sacrifice fly to centerfield in the bottom of the 12th inning. Senior centerfielder A.J. Coia (North Riverside, Ill./Riverside-Brookfield) had the hot bat for SXU in the match-up against Olivet going 2-for-5 at the plate with two homers, two runs scored and two RBI. Sophomore rightie Ryan Quigley (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) earned the win in relief for Saint Xavier pitching the final 4.2 innings and allowing just four hits, a run (unearned) and four walks, while picking up nine strikeouts.

In Sunday's championship, William Penn scored three runs in the seventh inning and two more runs in the eighth to build an 11-7 advantage heading into the ninth inning. However, after senior leftfielder Pat Flynn (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle) drew a walk to start the bottom of the ninth, the Cougars rattled off four hits in the inning to win the game, 12-11. The rally was highlighted by a two-out, two-RBI single by Gregerson with the bases loaded, which brought Coia home from second for the game-winning run. Ironically, Gregerson also earned the win on the mound pitching the final inning and giving up just one hit, no runs and no walks with one strikeout.

Saint Xavier will take on Aquinas College (Mich.) at Kimble Stadium in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, May 19, at 2 p.m. (eastern) in the first game of the NAIA Super Regional series. The second game of the series will be played on Friday, May 20, at 12 p.m. (eastern). Game three, if necessary, will immediately follow the second game.

NAIA Region VII Baseball Tournament Web site