Baseball - Wed, Jun. 1, 2005
Joliet, Ill. - Sophomore shortstop Brendan Christy (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI, but the No. 1 seed and No. 16 nationally ranked Saint Xavier University baseball team fell just short of a dramatic comeback attempt Sunday in the championship game of the 2004 NAIA Region VII Tournament at Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill. SXU dropped the game, 8-7, to William Penn University (Iowa), but stared a 8-0 deficit in the face heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.

Following the game, senior lefthander Joseph Williams (Blue Island, Ill./Chicago Christian), senior second baseman Ryan Howell (Hometown, Ill./Oak Lawn), and Christy were all named to the 2004 NAIA All-Region VII Team and Howell was also named the 2004 Region VII Player of the Year. Christy was named to the All-Region VII Team as the fifth infielder.

Hits and runs came early and often for William Penn with the leadoff hitter crushing a solo shot over the wall in left field to take a quick lead. The Statesmen scored another run in the first and then two more runs in the third to take a 4-0 advantage. A RBI single by WPU second baseman B.J. Rotz and a three run homer by Statesmen leftfielder Chris Eilers gave William Penn a four-run fourth inning and put the Cougars into a 8-0 hole.

However, SXU answered with five runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks in part to two straight bases-loaded walks by William Penn starter Josh Deck and a two-RBI single to left by Howell. Down 8-5, the Cougars' defense and pitching staff were able to shut down the Statesmen offense over the final five innings allowing just five hits and no runs.

Saint Xavier got two more runs in the bottom of the sixth when Christy singled up the middle to score freshman third baseman Craig Buske (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) from second and junior catcher Carlos Campos (Cicero, Ill./Morton East) later sent Christy home from third on a sac fly to centerfield. After two and a half scoreless innings, the Cougars had a shot to win it down 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth.

Williams led off with a single to first base and then WPU was able to force outs on the next two batters. With two outs and a runner on first, Sophomore rightfielder Luke Gregerson (Lyons, Ill./Morton West) singled down the left field line. A walk for junior centerfielder A.J. Coia (North Riverside, Ill./Riverside-Brookfield) loaded the bases and brought sophomore pinch-hitter Nick Karko (Alsip, Ill./Marist) to the plate. Karko hit a laser line drive to shallow left field, but Eilers was able to able to make the running catch to end the game.

Saint Xavier University ends its 2004 season with an overall record of 42-25-1.