Michael Lucas tossed his third career complete game shutout and helped Xavier advance over Rhode Island, 3-0.
May 24, 2007
DAYTON, Ohio - Junior Michael Lucas tossed his third career complete game shutout to help Xavier down Rhode Island in the nightcap of the 2007 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship at Fifth Third Field on Thursday night. Lucas allowed only four hits in his 9.0 innings of work, while striking out four in only 111 pitches. With the win, the Musketeers improve to 29-30 on the season, while the Rams close out the season at 23-30 overall.
After allowing the leadoff batter to single in the bottom of the first, Lucas retired the lineup in order for the next four innings. It took Rhode Island until the bottom of the fifth to earn its second hit of the game. URI would load the bases in the inning but the junior dropped a big curve across the plate to strikeout the final out of the inning.
The Musketeers were finally able to capitalize and get to the Rams' starter, Adam Perkins. In the top of the sixth, XU got a one-out single from Adam Pasono before Perkins issued his first walk of the evening to Neil Lindgren. Robbie Kelley then stepped to the plate and was hit by a pitch for the 17th time this season to extend his Xavier single-season record. After a fielder's choice put two outs on the board, senior Adam Lipski delivered a single up the middle to score Lindgren and Kelley and give Xavier its first lead of the game, 2-0.
"Rhode Island played hard but we battled and we wanted it and that's a credit to our senior leadership," said Xavier head coach Scott Googins. "I just told the offense to stay with it and kept telling Michael [Lucas] not to press and think you have to throw a shutout and darned if he didn't, which was great."
Xavier picked up an insurance run in the top of the eighth as Lindgren led off the inning with a triple down the right field line. Robbie Kelley would drive him in with a single down the right field line to push XU's lead to 3-0. Sean Farrell would pinch hit and draw a walk before Lipski laid down a sac bunt to put runners at second and third with one down. Rhode Island intentionally walked Jordan Wolf to load the bases before getting out of the inning with a strikeout and a pop out to the catcher in foul ground, leaving the bases loaded.
Lucas would issue only his second walk to start the bottom of the eighth but retired the next three batters in order and capped the inning with his fourth strikeout of the night.
"Our offense always comes through and our defense is solid so I knew that if I just stuck with it everything would work out," said Lucas, who notched his second shutout of the season. "I was able to feel all of my pitches and locate really well."
At the plate, Andy Zellers would continue to swing a hot bat as the senior finished the game 3-for-4 with three singles. Zellers is now hitting 6-for-13 (.462) with five singles, a double and four RBIs. Lipski finished the evening 2-for-3 at the plate and tallied the game-winning RBIs in the sixth. Lipski is leading the team with six RBIs in the championship. Kelley also ended the day 2-for-3 with Xavier's other RBI.
The win marks the first time that Xavier has lost the first game and went on to win the next two games in the A-10 Championship. XU is now 7-9 during championship play and will face Richmond for the third time tomorrow. In the last meetings during the 2003 A-10 Championship, the Blue and White downed top-ranked Richmond, 2-1, in the opening round only to meet up with the Spiders two games later and fall, 6-3.
The Musketeers will get back to action tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 pm. Xavier will take on the No. 3 Spiders after the noon game, which features No. 1 Charlotte against No. 2 Fordham.