Xavier wins home opener series against Evansville

Last weekend, Xavier baseball played host to Evansville at Hayden Field for its first home series of the year. The Musketeers won the first two games of the three-game series before dropping the third game to the Purple Aces. Xavier also traveled to Wright State for the first game of a home-and-home on Tuesday, walking away with a come-from-behind 9-8 win in 10 innings.

In Xavier’s home opener, the Musketeers were able to erase a 7-0 deficit to storm back and win 11-8. Evansville went ahead 2-0 in the first before tacking on another four runs in the second. It went ahead 7-0 in the top of the fourth, but Xavier answered with four runs of its own in the bottom half of the fourth.

Freshman infielder Jack Housinger, who went 4-4 in the game, doubled down the left field line to score junior infielder Conor Grammes from second. This advanced graduate infielder Jake Shepski to third, leaving the Musketeers with two runners in scoring position. A sac fly from senior outfielder Ryan Fournier scored Shepski. Then, freshman Luke Franzoni followed with a two-run home run to slice the Evansville lead to three.

Xavier took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring another four runs in the frame. Grammes singled, then Shepski walked and Housinger singled to load the bases. Junior catcher Natale Monastra’s sac fly to center scored Grammes. Later in the inning, Fournier walked, and Franzoni responded by hitting a bases-clearing double to put Xavier ahead 8-7.

The Musketeers tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh after junior outfielder Andrew Sexton singled home Housinger and Monastra. After Evansville scored in the top of the eighth, Xavier scored what would be the final run of the game on a Shepski sac fly. Freshman reliever Lane Flamm shut down Evansville in the ninth, recording his second save of the season.

In game two, Xavier jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third after Grammes’ two-run homer. Evansville scored in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom half freshman infielder Kody Darcy hit a solo shot to put Xavier up 3-1. Darcy then went deep again in his next at bat in the seventh, putting Xavier up 4-1. A solo homer by Troy Bellsmith in the top of the eighth cut the Xavier lead to two at 4-2, but Franzoni’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth gave Xavier a three-run lead. Flamm went to work again, striking out the side in the ninth to secure the Xavier win.

Despite dropping the third game of the series, Grammes threw a gem in what would end up being a losing effort. He struck out 11 in five innings, with his only blip coming in the third inning when Tanner Craig doubled home Bellsmith and then was brought home on a single by Jake Borgstrom.

Xavier got on the board in the fifth, as Grammes singled and then stole second before being brought home on a Shepski single to cut the Evansville lead to 2-1. The Purple Aces scored two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth. Trailing 8-1, Xavier picked up a run in the bottom of the eighth, as Franzoni singled home Monastra. Evansville tacked on an additional two in the ninth to take the final game of the series 10-2.

At Wright State on Tuesday, Xavier trailed 6-1 by the third inning.

 However, a four-run top of the third and top of the sixth gave the Musketeers the lead. Wright State tied the game in the bottom of the sixth.

The game remained even at eight runs apiece before Grammes singled home the game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Musketeers over the Raiders.

By: Joe Clark | Staff Writer