By Spencer Tracy, Staff Writer
The Xavier baseball team traveled to Cullowhee, North Carolina and brought their brooms, completing the three-game series sweep against Western Carolina over the weekend including their first win of the season Friday night.
The hitter of the weekend was no doubt the senior transfer from West Virginia, Matt McCormick, who’s finally settled into the Musketeer lineup. His weekend was absurd, hitting 8-13 with five runs scored, three batted in and two home runs in Saturday’s game.
Senior pitcher Ethan Bosacker earned himself pitcher of the series despite having missed all of last season due to an injury. He displayed his eagerness to dominate on the mound, throwing five innings of one run ball including six strikeouts.
Game one on Friday night was a nailbiter as the Musketeers only held a 4-3 lead bringing back dreadful memories of late game blown leads to Louisville and Oregon earlier this season.
Pitching mistakes plagued the Catamounts’ chances of a comeback after a leadoff walk to graduate student Jack Housinger in the eighth followed by a McCormick hit by pitch leading to a pitching change. Junior catcher Matthew DePrey drew a walk, loading the bases with two outs for designated hitter Hayden Christiansen who roped one for a hit, scoring Housinger and McCormick. The Muskies would hold on to and win it 9-4 giving Bosacker the win.
A similar script was written for game two of the series. Yet again, the Musketeers held a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh thanks to home runs by McCormick and DePrey. McCormick led off the seventh with another homer, igniting a spark in the Musketeer lineup as eight of the next nine Muskies would reach base, putting up five runs in the inning.
They would mirror that in the eighth inning thanks to senior Jared Cushing’s leadoff bomb, leading to another five-run inning pounding Western Carolina 15-3 for their second win of the season.
Sunday’s game came with a punch in the mouth as Xavier found themselves trailing 6-0 heading into the top of the third. Senior Garrett Schultz came to the rescue with a two-run single after a single and an error started the rally.
Chiseling at the lead, Xavier made it 12-8 facing their final six outs of the game. Already outscoring the Catamounts 15-1 in the final two innings of the first two games, Xavier still had some fire left in them. Schultz led off the inning with a hit by pitch then graduate student Andrew Walker followed up with a double.
Housinger drew a walk, bringing the tying run to the plate. Junior infielder Grant Stephanson put the ball in play, reaching on a fielder’s choice allowing Schultz to score. McCormick continued to play hero with a two-out single, bringing the deficit to two heading into the ninth.
With victories in games one and two, the Musketeers had the series won despite a comeback or not, but a sweep would taste so much better. DePrey led the ninth off with a double in the gap, placing the tying run at the plate. The Catamounts defense began to falter, and Xavier eventually loaded the bases with nobody out. Schultz managed to produce a productive out scoring DePrey on a sacrifice fly making it 12-11.
Walker blasted one into the right center gap, scoring two and giving the Musketeers their first lead of the game.
A few batters later, Stevenson sent a towering home run over the left center field wall as the Xavier dugout went wild, capping off a seven-run comeback with a six-run ninth inning winning the game 16-12. Xavier hits the road for a series against UC Santa Barbara this weekend.