Now that the dust has settled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, it's time to take a look at how the Xavier Musketeers performed over the weekend. With a tense victory over Army on Opening Day, the Muskies also faced the Boston College Eagles twice and the Wofford Terriers with an eye on starting the season strong.
Saturday, February 14th – Boston College 14, Xavier 7 (Game One)
Despite the exciting opening against Army, the Xavier Baseball team fell in its second game of the season to Boston College. The Eagles, who were facing the Musketeers in pursuit of their first win, had an excellent day offensively and doubled up the X-men, winning 14-7. However, the game was not a one-sided affair the entire day. During the first five innings, the two Jesuit schools proved to be a great match for one another.
Even though the Musketeers fell to Boston College, their seven runs were a strong offensive performance. In the second inning, center fielder Tim O'Conner brought in junior shortstop Andre Jernigan and freshman second baseman Rylan Bannon after a double to left center, giving XU an early 2-1 lead. The Muskies upped the ante in the third inning after Jernigan hit a triple to right field and drove home redshirt senior left fielder Patrick Jones, making it a 3-1 ballgame. In the fourth inning, a three-run homer by BC center fielder Gabriel Hernandez flipped the script and gave the Eagles a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the same frame, Muskies' senior Joe Forney hit a solo home run to tie the game at 4-4.
In the sixth inning, Boston College broke open the flood gates by posting four runs and ending the 4-4 stalemate. The Eagles' offense continued to perform, finding six more runs over the next two innings. Even though the Musketeers were able to bring the game much closer in the seventh inning (XU trailed by only three runs going into the eighth), the 10-run output by Boston College in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings held the day. After all was said and done, Musketeer baseball fell to 1-1 overall after the first part of the Saturday doubleheader.
Saturday, February 14th – Wofford 11, Xavier 3 (Game Two)
Similar to the first game of the day, the X-men started quite strong against Wofford with two runs in the first inning. Fellow juniors Daniel Rizzie (catcher) and David Morton (second baseman) started their afternoons with back-to-back singles to left field. After Andre Jernigan moved them ahead and redshirt senior right fielder Brian Bruening struck a comebacker (which hit Wofford starter Luke Leftwich and skipped in shallow left) that allowed Morton and Rizzie to cross home plate, the score was 2-0. Unfortunately, that series of events created most of Xavier's offense for the game (despite nine total hits) and only a fraction of Wofford's total runs. In the bottom of the first, the Terriers' preseason All-Southern Conference first baseman James Plaisted plastered a two-run home run that tied the game at 2-2. Wofford's offense continued to heat up in the third inning with three additional runs before the X-men responded briefly in the fourth inning (Xavier's final run was a solo home run from senior third baseman Chase Puente). At this point, the game was 5-3 and it the last time the Muskies would be competitive. In the fifth inning, Wofford posted four more runs, making the score 9-3. The Terriers added another two runs in the eighth to come to our final score, 11-3.
Sunday, February 15th – Xavier 9, Boston College 4
Unlike the weekend's earlier game, Xavier allowed Boston College to build an early lead in the Sunday matchup. Senior righty Adam Hall got the start for the X-men, but had a rough second inning. During that frame, Hall gave up BC's only scoring output of the day – four runs on four hits. At that point, XU head coach Scott Googins went to the Muskies' bullpen and gave relievers Sean Campbell (senior) and Greg Jacknewitz (sophomore) the opportunity to pitch six innings of run-free baseball. On the other hand, the Musketeers burst on the scoring scene with a five-run sixth inning. After back-to-back singles (by David Morton and senior leadoff man / second baseman Selby Chidemo), catcher Daniel Rizzie walked to load the bases. When the BC coaches opted to bring in reliever Brian Rapp, Xavier designated hitter Derek Hasenbeck was patient at the plate, took a walk and brought in a run for XU. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Jones hit a triple to right field which cleared the bases and tied the game at 4-4. Once Andre Jernigan hit a single to right, Jones flew home and gave Xavier a one-run lead, 5-4.
In the eighth inning, XU's bats again came alive with four more runs. Freshman pinch runner Will LaRue scored on an Andre Jernigan single to left field and pinch runner Tim O'Conner scored on a Brian Bruening sacrifice fly. A few moments later, Jernigan nabbed an unearned run after a BC fielding error and first baseman Joe Forney scored following a Selby Chidemo single. These runs combined to help the X-men extend their lead to five runs. Over the final six outs, Jacknewitz was near-perfect, retiring the Eagles lineup in order to hold on to another Xavier victory.
After an action-packed Valentine's Day weekend, Xavier Baseball showed flashes of promise and some room for improvement. However, they managed to generate runs and demonstrate solid pitching performances. With a 2-2 record, the Musketeers will hope to continue to build a winning season next weekend when they return to South Carolina (Greenville this time for the First Pitch Invitational) and face the Furman Paladin, Presbyterian Blue Hose, and Indiana Hoosiers.