Xavier baseball ended the week on a good note, beating their first ranked opponent
By Pat Gainor, Staff Writer
Despite an ugly loss at home and losing three straight games this week, Xavier baseball managed to steal a game against #24 West Virginia for its first ranked win of the season.
After a sweep against the Wofford Terriers, Xavier returned to Hayden Field on Wednesday to take on the rival Cincinnati Bearcats in the second home game of the season.
The Musketeers entered the game shorthanded in pitching after having to go deep in their bullpen against the Terriers last weekend and that showed in full force against the Bearcats as Xavier surrendered 13 runs in the first two innings, eight of which came off grand slams. Despite a home run from senior first baseman Tyler DeMartino, Cincinnati would take full control of the game, winning 19-6. The 19 runs surrendered are the most given up by Xavier since March 20, 2021, when they gave up 22 against Cincinnati at Hayden Field.
Junior pitcher Connor Bailey, who was taken out of the game after facing five batters with no outs, received the loss.
On Friday, Xavier traveled to Morgantown to take on the #24 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, their third series against a ranked opponent this season. The series opener on Friday was a close one as Xavier responded to every run scored by WVU with a score of their own. The Mountaineers entered the top of the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead, but a single by senior infielder Matt McCormick would bring in graduate student infielder Jack Housinger from first to tie the game up at 4-4.
Unfortunately, West Virginia would rally in the ninth, and sophomore infielder JJ Wetherhholt, the leading hitter in the Big 12, notched the walk-off hit to give the Mountaineers a 5-4 victory. Relief pitcher sophomore Justin Loer (2-2) would be assessed the loss.
Game 2 was a battle between aces as Xavier’s graduate student pitcher Brant Alazaus (2-3) and West Virginia’s Blaine Trexel (5-1) duked it out. Both pitchers held their respective opponents to under two runs for most of the game, but a go-ahead single in the bottom of the seventh knocked Alazaus out of the game, and the Mountaineers would put the game away in the eighth as they rolled to a 7-2 victory.
Trying to end their three-game skid, Xavier needed a huge offensive rally in the series finale – and that’s exactly what they got from second baseman senior Jared Cushing. Cushing, who homered in Game 1, crushed a grand-slam in the second and a solo shot in the eighth as he tallied a career-high five RBIs. Adding in a two-run shot by graduate student outfielder Andrew Walker and a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Matthew DePrey, Xavier cruised to their first ranked win of the season as they took the 8-3 victory.
Xavier is now 1-7 against nationally ranked opponents this season, having lost to #20 Oregon and #12 Louisville earlier this year.
The Musketeers finish off their five-game road trip this week as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (12-10) and the Wright State Raiders (13-10) before returning home to face Northern Illinois (5-17) in the non-conference series finale.
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