Nittoli struck out seven in the no decision.
May 17, 2014
CINCINNATI - Xavier baseball dropped its final home game of the 2014 season to Creighton Saturday afternoon, 7-6, in a 12-inning affair. With the loss, Xavier finishes the regular season with a record of 26-26 and 8-10 in the BIG EAST Conference, while Creighton (30-16-1, 14-4 BIG EAST) clinched the regular-season championship with the win.
Pitching dominated the game through the first four and a half innings, but the Musketeers finally broke through with two outs in the fifth. Consecutive singles by Patrick Jones and Derek Hasenbeck drove in Daniel Rizzie to give XU a 1-0 advantage.
A leadoff double from Creighton's Cody Kottich was followed by a sacrifice bunt to move him to third and then a sac fly by Ryan Fitzgerald to push him home.
The Musketeers cooked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to stake claim of a 3-1 lead. Rizzie singled with one down and took second on a wild pitch. The hot-hitting Jones delivered an RBI single before scoring on Hasenbeck's double to deep right-center.
Three ninth-inning walks to start the frame haunted the Musketeers. Reagan Fowler plated the game-tying runs on a single through the right side of the infield, and Logan Lucansky pushed across the go ahead run on a bloop single that fell just inside the right field line between three Musketeers giving chase.
Xavier wasn't ready to go down. Forney opened the ninth with a chopping infield single, which was followed by a Rizzie sac bunt to give XU the game-tying run in scoring position. Jones singled up the middle for the third time of the day, putting runners on the corners with one out. A groundout into the hole on the right side by Hasenbeck allowed Forney to score the game-tying run and send the game into extra innings all square at four.
After a scoreless 10th, Creighton worked Sean Campbell to get one run on a McKewon single to left field in the 11th. Xavier quickly answered with one swing of the bat from Hasenbeck, sending a ball deep into left centerfield and tying the game, 5-5.
CU tallied two more runs in the 12th inning due to back-to-back singles from Daniel Woodrow and Nicky Lopez. Facing the two-run deficit, Xavier put together a one-out rally, starting with a double from Mitch Elliott. Forney drove a single into right field and brought home Elliott to cut the deficit to one. XU's push ended there and the Musketeers fell in the final game of the series, 7-6.
Hasenbeck led all XU hitters with four hits, one home run and four runs driven. Bruening, Jones and Forney each recorded three hits.
On senior day, Xavier's fifth-year hurler Vinny Nittoli pitched a gem. In his final day on the mound at Hayden Field, Nittoli allowed one run on two hits and a pair of walks. He fanned seven Bluejays, but did not factor into the decision. Fellow seniors Scott Klever (6-5), who pitched on one day's rest and was charged with the loss, and Markus Kuykendoll made appearances on the mound.
Prior to the start of the game, ten graduating players were honored for their time as Musketeers. Tres Eberhardt, Elliott, Jake Forrester, Klever, Kuykendoll, Michael Moore, Nittoli, Joey Noble, Stephen Schoettmer and Bo Slemons were given engraved bats in the ceremony.
Xavier awaits its fate for the BIG EAST Championship. The Musketeers can reach the four-team tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a Butler loss on Saturday.