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Xavier comeback falls just short, Muskies drop 5-4 result to UCSB

Xavier will now have to battle out of the elimination games, beginning tonight at 9pm against Washington.

Courtesy of XU Athletics/David Wegiel

Xavier got behind the eight ball in this one before they ever had a chance to bat as UCSB jumped starter Trent Astle to the tune of a three-run top of the first. That outburst was punctuated by a two-run homer off the bat of Austin Bush to the deepest part of the ball park.

It went from bad to worse for Xavier in the fourth. Astle had settled in nicely, but he gave up a couple of early baserunners and Coach Googins had to make a move to the bullpen. He Brad Kirschner, who surrendered a bloop double on a changeup to Clay Fisher, who had to go all the way across the plate to get it. It wasn't a bad pitch at all, but the result was that Xavier went down 5-0 three and a half innings in.

From there Xavier battled back immediately. A Joe Gellenbeck double was chased by RBI singles by Soria and LaRue to put Xavier on the board in the bottom of the fourth. David Morton led off the fifth with a homer. After singles from Givin and LaRue, Morton again struck with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.

Then UCSB made the change that would decide the game. With a runner on second and one down in the seventh, lefty reliever Justin Kelly came out of the pen. Kelly would go the rest of the game, striking out seven of the eight Musketeers that he faced. The only baserunner he allowed, he promptly picked off of first. From the seventh on, Kelly all but won this game by himself for the Gauchos.

The result was disappointing, but that shouldn't overshadow the great work done by Xavier's bullpen. Brad Kirschner led the way with 3.2 innings of two-hit ball, and Taylor Williams, Trey Schramm, and Garrett Schilling teamed up to finish 5.2 innings of zeroes for Xavier. The one pitch they'd like to have back - the double by Clay Fisher - wasn't even a bad one, a changeup off the plate away and below the knees. Those four guys did great work to give Xavier's offense a chance to get the game back within touching distance down the stretch.

From here Xavier will turn around and take on Washington in an elimination game at 9pm tonight. If they win there, they will need to beat UCSB twice on Monday to advance out of the region.