Baseball opens season against No. 5 Tar Heels

Photo courtesy of | Graduate infielder Jake Shepski (No. 5) was named to the Big East Weekly Honor roll for his .500 slash line and 3 RBI against No. 5 North Carolina in the Musketeers’ opening series last weekend in Chapel Hill.

Xavier baseball lost its opening series this past weekend, dropping all three contests at No. 5 North Carolina by scores of 12-3, 8-3 and 14-3.

The Musketeers remained within striking distance in each of the games heading into the sixth inning, but they were unable to mount comebacks.

In the opening game, junior Conor Grammes got the start while also batting in the designated hitter spot.

Grammes lasted 3.2 innings as the starter, giving up five earned runs and striking out two batters.

Xavier started the first inning well, loading the bases with just one out. The Musketeers were unable to drive in any runs as North Carolina retired Xavier’s next two batters.

The Tar Heels loaded the bases in the first and drove in three runs to take a 3-0 lead heading into the second inning.

In the second inning, graduate student Jake Shepski grounded a fielder’s choice that allowed a run to score.

After Grammes held North Carolina scoreless in the second, Xavier drove in two more runs in the top of the third to tie the game at 3-3.

However, North Carolina scored two of its own in the bottom of the third to take a 5-3 lead.

 The Tar Heels’ lead only expanded from there, as they scored one run in the fourth, three runs in the sixth, two runs in the seventh and one run in the eighth to beat Xavier 12-3.

Sophomore left-hander Nick Zwack started the second game for Xavier. He pitched four innings and allowed just one run while striking out two batters.

North Carolina scored in the first inning on a solo home run, but Xavier countered to tie the game in the third after senior infielder Chris Givin drove in freshman infielder Kody Darcy on a single.

Xavier seized a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Shepski hit a sacrifice fly.

North Carolina regained the lead in the sixth inning on a triple that drove in two runs. The Tar Heels scored two more runs in the seventh and tacked on three runs in the eighth to take an 8-2 lead.

Junior outfielder Andrew Sexton drove in a run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as Xavier fell 8-3 in the second game.

Graduate left-handed pitcher Marko Boricich started the final game for Xavier in this three-game set and pitched 1.1 innings while allowing three runs and striking out one batter.

North Carolina jumped out to an early lead again, scoring a run in the first inning on a home run.

Xavier tied the game in the second when freshman infielder Jack Housinger hit a sacrifice fly to bring in a run.

North Carolina responded by scoring a combined four runs in the second and third innings to take a 5-1 lead.

Xavier scored two of its own in the top of the fifth, getting a run on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Shepski.

North Carolina scored eight unanswered runs to beat Xavier in the final game 14-3.

Shepski was named to the Big East Weekly Honor for his performance at North Carolina after he went 5-10 at the plate and batted in three runs.

Xavier has a chance to bounce back in its next series this weekend on the road against Samford during a three-game series in Birmingham, Ala. The first pitch of game one scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m.

By: Donnie Menke | Staff Writer