By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
As spring has sprung around Cincinnati, the new season is now in full swing for the Xavier baseball team.
Following a five-game losing streak at the hands of two top-10 national powerhouses in Vanderbilt and Louisville, the team returned home for its opening four home games of the season — a matchup against Miami (OH) and a three-game set against Central Michigan.
The home opener on March 16 saw the Musketeers get off to a strong start at Hayden Field, defeating the Miami RedHawks by a score of 12-4. Initially down 3-0, the Musketeers scored two in the second, four in the fourth, two in the sixth and another four in the eighth to take down their opponents in convincing fashion.
After giving up three runs in his first two innings, the Musketeers junior left-hander Trent Astle settled down, ultimately going four innings, giving up six hits, no walks and four strikeouts, getting credit for the win.
Xavier’s final three pitchers after Astle, Brad Kirschner, Trey Schramm and Garrett Schilling, combined for five innings in relief, giving up only one earned run, while striking out six and only giving up six additional hits.
From the plate, sophomore third baseman Rylan Bannon provided the spark for the Musketeers, going two for two with a walk, three runs scored and a three-run home run in the fourth inning. During the game, the Musketeers hit four home runs, an impressive display of power.
After the win against Miami, the Musketeers faced a three-game weekend series against the Mid-American Conference’s Central Michigan Chippewas.
A fantastic weekend of baseball ensued, with Xavier sweeping the series. The final game of the series, played on March 20, saw junior outfield Matt Fallon go three for four from the plate, scoring one and driving in four of the Musketeers runs in a 7-4 victory.
During the game, sophomore Damien Richard recorded his first career win, coming in relief of Astle and throwing 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing only two hits while striking out four. The win and subsequent sweep takes the Musketeers to 7-12 early on in the season.
The team now goes on a three-game road trip, playing in Columbus against Ohio State, and then two games crosstown against UC before returning to Hayden Field for the third game of a three-game series against the Bearcats on March 26.