By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier baseball team took its 11-7 record to Champaign, Ill. this past weekend for a loaded four-game series in three days against the University of Illinois.
The Musketeers got off to a strong start Friday with a 6-2 victory, holding off any type of rally posed by the home team. Junior catcher Derek Hasenbeck put Xavier on the board with a two-run homer (3) in the third inning, scoring senior infielder Tres Eberhardt.
The Muskies struck again in the inning when sophomore catcher Daniel Rizzle singled past the Illinois second baseman to score redshirt senior Vinny Nittoli from third.
After a two-run sixth inning by the Illini, Xavier responded with another three runs in the ninth with RBIs from Rizzle, redshirt freshman infielder David Morton batting leadoff and redshirt junior Brian Bruening, securing a 6-2 victory for day one.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Adam Hall (3-0) earned the win after a stellar 6.1 innings, giving up just two runs, three hits and four walks. Struggles ensued for the Musketeers in their Saturday doubleheader, falling by scores of 6-1 and 6-2.
The first game was a matter of too little too late as Xavier was shutout until the eighth inning when Morton scored off of a single by junior Joe Forney. Nittoli (3-1) made his 42nd career start as a Musketeer, moving him to eighth all-time in school history.
Xavier trailed once again in game two until Forney’s long sac fly scored senior Jake Forrester to tie the game at 1-1. The Musketeers’ only other run would be credited to Bruening, who scored on an error. For the second time in one day, XU could not keep up with the Illini’s six-run outing.
Sunday’s game capped off the weekend in a disappointing yet exciting fashion. Xavier opened the afternoon with a strong first inning as Eberhardt and Forney scored from loaded bases off the bat of redshirt freshman Andre Jernigan.
The game went into extra innings after Illinois tacked on a run in both the seventh and eighth. The two teams would be at a stalemate until the Illini solidified its weekend assertion in the bottom of the 13th by putting down a squeeze bunt with the bases loaded.
Xavier (12-10) plays No. 27 Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Lexington.
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