Baseball wins a pair on South Carolina road trip

Photo courtesy of | Joe Gellenbeck went 5-5 in the 2-1 road win over Presbyterian.

The baseball team had a successful weekend in South Carolina, going 2-1 on the road trip.

The Musketeers defeated Presbyterian College late in the ninth inning, 6-5, and routed USC Upstate, 7-1.

Senior outfielder Will LaRue and freshman outfielder Allbry Major each collected two hits against Presbyterian. From those two hits, LaRue also contributed two RBIs and scored a run. Major went 2-4 while scoring two runs.

Junior first baseman Matt Warkentin hit his first home run of the season to add two runs to the Musketeers’ cause. Sophomore third baseman Conor Grammes also added a hit. Junior infielder Chris Givin went 1-3 and delivered the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning.

Senior right-handed pitcher Damien Richard tossed five innings in the start and only allowed one earned run while collecting a career-best eight strikeouts. Junior right-hander Trey Schramm threw 2.2 innings in relief and picked up his second win on the young season.

“(Schramm) is a very confident kid, and that confidence is very evident every time he steps onto the field,” head coach Billy O’Conner said about the righty. “And his teammates feed off of that confidence that he gives off.

“We’ll continue to hand him the ball at the most crucial points of the game, no matter the inning.”

The Xavier bats picked up right where they left off against USC Upstate as the Musketeers churned out 22 total hits.

This effort was led by graduate senior outfielder Joe Gellenbeck, who racked up five hits in five plate appearances.

“Joe’s success this weekend definitely is a big boost to the lineup,” O’Conner said. “Being a fifth-year senior and a major contributor for the past four years, he’s a guy that we will look to offensively to provide consistent quality at-bats for us every game.”

This season, Gellenbeck leads the team in batting average and slugging percentage. In the game against USC Upstate, he hit two extra base hits, a double and a triple, in addition to bringing in two RBIs. He was named the Big East Baseball Player of the Week for his productive weekend.

“I think the biggest thing right now is that I’m just seeing the ball well,” Gellenbeck said. “I’ve tried to slow the game down a lot more this year, making sure I’m focused pitch by pitch and not worrying or thinking about previous or upcoming at bats.”

Seven other Musketeers had multiple hits against USC Upstate. Most notably, LaRue had three hits and added an RBI while walking once and coming around to score one run. Sophomore catcher Natale Monastra was 3-5 at the dish and added an RBI plus a run.

“It’s always nice when our entire offense seems to be clicking, especially early in the season,” Gellenbeck said. “It also shows us what we’re capable of as an offense.”

Freshman Griffin Lanoue got the call on the hill for the Musketeers and threw 1.2 innings, only allowing one run. Two other freshmen, Major and Evan Miller, came in relief for Xavier. Miller hurled 2.1 innings without allowing a run while grabbing the win, and Major threw three full shutout innings striking out three batters.

O’Conner feels that the strong outings of the freshmen pitchers was a confidence-boosting one.

“I think the success they experienced is going to be a shot in the arm for their confidence moving forward,” he said.

Gellenbeck also commended the freshmen for their efforts this season.

“They’ve been a big part of our success so far this season and they’re going to continue to be a big part of it as the year progresses,” Gellenbeck said.

The Musketeers play next this weekend when they travel to California to take on Saint Mary’s in a three-game series starting Friday at 4 p.m.

By: Luke Feliciano ~Sports Editor~