Xavier Advances In A-10 Championship In Thrilling Fashion
May 23, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Xavier picked up its second victory in as many games in the Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship in a game against Saint Louis that featured many twists and turns.
Trailing 6-5 entering the eighth inning, centerfielder Mark Elwell belted the first home run of his career. The home run came on the first pitch of the at bat and was a line drive shot to left field.
Xavier (32-24) then tallied the game-winning run an inning later. Paligraf led off with a single to center field and advanced to second on a sac bunt. He later scored with two outs when Saint Louis' Michael Bozarth misplayed Selby Chidemo's line drive to left field.
The late-inning drama wasn't over. With two outs in the final inning, Steve Fernandez sent a shot to deep center field that came just inches from being a game-tying home run. However, Elwell climbed the fence and got his glove on the ball, pulling it back into play and robbing Fernandez of the home run. The Billiken's ended up with only a double on the play and Alex Vice induced a groundout to first base to close out the game.
Elwell's defensive heroics started earlier in the game, when he made a diving catch on Braxton Martinez's hit to shallow center.
Xavier built up a 3-0 lead with runs in each of the first three innings. Vinny Nittoli drove in Elwell in the first inning, Elwell plated Mitch Elliott in the second and Patrick Paligraf laid down a squeeze bunt to score Nittoli.
Saint Louis (36-19) broke through with a runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Fernandez delivered a double to right field to score Martinez and an inning later Alex Kelly hit a three-run homer to left field to push SLU ahead, 4-3.
Bozarth extended the Billiken's lead to two runs, 5-3, with a solo home run in the sixth. But, XU responded.
Forney slapped his third hit of the game in the seventh and Elliott picked up his second hit to put runners on first and second with two down. Schoettmer came through with a single, scoring both runners and tying the game at five.
Scott Klever pitched the first six innings for Xavier, allowing five runs on 10 hits. In the sixth inning, Klever caught Kelly leaning off first base for his seventh pick-off of the year.
Jacob Bodner worked two-thirds of an inning in relief and walked three batters before exiting with two outs in the seventh. Vice entered and walked the first batter he faced to give Saint Louis a 6-5 advantage through seven innings and set up the late-game drama.
Vice earned the win for the Musketeers, finishing the final 2.1 innings to improve to 2-2 on the season.
Saint Louis starter Alex Alemann was chased from the game after giving up three runs on five hits in the first three innings. Joe Powell was on the mound when Xavier tied the game in the top of the seventh and was charged for two runs in 3.2 innings. Matt Eckleman was charge with the loss after giving up two runs on two hits.
The Musketeers await the winner of Thursday afternoon's contest between No. 2 Charlotte and No. 3 Rhode Island, with a scheduled start time of noon on Friday.