Pirates continue postseason push, trounce Xavier 11-3Date: May 4, 2019
By Chris Russo
The Pirates used a barrage of extra-base hits in the eighth and ninth innings to take down the Xavier Musketeers 11-3.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 22-22 on the season and 6-5 in conference, now ahead of Georgetown for third place. In addition, they knocked Xavier from their top spot in the Big East.
For the first four innings, this game was a more of a pitcher’s duel than the final score would tell you. Xavier struck first in the second inning after a hit by pitch, a single, a sacrifice bunt, and sacrifice fly, the latter of which came off the bat of Luke Franzoni.
Xavier again used small ball in the fourth inning to double the lead. After a single and a double, Pirates starting pitcher Noah Thompson balked, allowing Matt Warkentin to cross home plate.
The game’s initial turning point came in the fifth inning. After Jerry Huntzinger reached on an error by shortstop Chris Givin, Tyler Shedler-McAvoy hit a game-tying, two-run home run. The Pirates did not stop there, as Christian Del Castillo followed with a triple before scoring on a wild pitch to take the lead.
Xavier starting pitcher Conor Grammes handed the ball to reliever Tyler Olsen shortly after that ordeal in the fifth. Despite the two early runs, Thompson pitched quite well. He went six innings and allowed two earned runs on only four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts to his name.
Thompson was in line for the win until Tyler Burnham hit and walked the only two batters he faced, respectively, and an RBI double by Grammes (now the designated hitter) re-tied the game.
The Pirates responded with two innings of offensive dominance. In the eighth inning, Olsen hit Matt Toke and Sebastiano Santorelli in consecutive at-bats before Steve Grober brought them both home with a double. This was the first of four consecutive extra-base hits by the Pirates, as Chris Villa doubled in Grober, Huntzinger doubled in Villa, and Shedler-McAvoy tripled in Huntzinger to make it 8-3 Seton Hall.
Hunter Waldis, the game’s winning pitcher, mowed down the Musketeers in the eighth before the Pirates went back to work in the ninth. If the Pirates hadn’t iced the game in the eighth, Connor Hood certainly did in the ninth by hitting a three-run home run to cap the scoring for the afternoon.
Xavier sent three pinch-hitters to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and Corey Sawyer struck out all three. The Pirates now sit in third place in the Big East Conference and can cut Xavier’s lead over them to one game with a win in Cincinnati tomorrow. First pitch time is 12:00 p.m.
Chris Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.