Baseball loses series against UNC Tarheels after hot start

By: Kyle Isaacs ~Staff Writer~

One week removed from starting the season off with three straight victories, the Xavier men’s baseball team traveled south to Chapel Hill, N.C. to battle No. 12 University of North Carolina in a three-game series.

The Musketeers took the first game of the series by a final score of 2-1 but dropped the final two games by one run apiece.

In the series opener, the Musketeers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third inning following three straight base hits, including two doubles and a single to cap the inning off. The two runs were all that sophomore pitcher Adam Hall needed, as the right hander threw six scoreless innings, giving up only four hits and a pair of walks. Junior Daniel Przeniczny recorded his second save of the season despite allowing the tying run to reach third base in the final frame.

A pop-out sealed the upset victory for the Musketeers, marking the longest winning streak to begin the season for Xavier in over 30 years.

The Musketeers returned to the diamond looking to extend their winning streak on Saturday but couldn’t bring home the tying run in a ninth inning comeback attempt.

Down 2-1 in the last inning, Xavier put runners on the corner with one out but couldn’t connect with the ball, striking out twice to end the game.

In the series rubber match, the Musketeers got off to a strong start with six innings of two-hit ball from senior pitcher Vinny Nittoli and a seventh inning score. After an insurance run in the eighth, head coach Scott Googins handed the ball to Przeniczny for a potential four-out save.

The junior was able to close out the eighth inning but surrendered three runs in the bottom of the ninth to drop the decisive game. In the loss, redshirt junior Brian Bruening collected four hits in four plate appearances, in addition to an RBI single in the seventh.

Xavier returns to Cincinnati with a 4-2 record on the season. The Musketeers will continue their road stand on Friday against Bradley University in Clarksville, Tenn.

After squaring off with Bradley, the Musketeers will remain in Tenn. to face the University of Dayton on Saturday. On Sunday, they will finish their southern road trip in a game versus Austin Peay State University.