Nittoli will throw on Friday.
May 28, 2014
CINCINNATI - The Xavier University baseball team is headed to Nashville, Tenn., where it will take on top-seed and host Vanderbilt in the 2014 NCAA Baseball Championship. First pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET), with ESPN3 carrying the contest.
XU (29-27) earned the No. 4 seed in the regional after winning the BIG EAST's automatic berth into the championship by claiming the conference title on Sunday with a 5-0 shutout of Creighton. The Musketeers defeated St. John's, Seton Hall and Creighton in the tournament, making them the first team since Villanova's 1991 squad to eliminate every other team in the championship.
The Musketeers are led on the mound by seniors Vinny Nittoli and Scott Klever. Nittoli ranks among the nation's leaders with a 1.98 ERA (67th), while both players have picked up six wins on the year.
Derek Hasenbeck, Daniel Rizzie and Andre Jernigan are Xavier's top producers at the plate. Hasenbeck is batting .307 with 35 runs and 27 RBIs. Rizzie leads XU with 38 runs scored, while Jernigan has driven in a team-best 38 RBIs.
Since overcoming injuries, both Mitch Elliott and Patrick Jones have established starting roles in the outfield. Elliott, the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, went 8-for-18 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the conference tournament. Jones is batting .367 with 17 RBIs in just 26 games played.
VU (41-18) was awarded the No. 1 seed in the region following a sixth-place finish in the SEC regular-season. The Commodores dropped back-to-back decisions in the SEC Championship to LSU and Ole Miss.
No. 2 Oregon (42-18) and No. 3 Clemson (36-23) will play in the first contest of the regional at 1 p.m. (ET) on Friday. In the double-elimination format of the NCAA Regionals, Xavier will face either Oregon or Clemson on Saturday.