April 24, 2012
CINCINNATI — Senior left-handed pitcher Brad Mergen (Albany, Minn./Albany) set career highs in strikeouts (seven) and innings pitched (7 1-3), but it was not enough as the University of Cincinnati baseball team fell to crosstown rival Xavier University 4-1 Tuesday evening at Hayden Field.
Mergen produced the best outing of his career after allowing just two earned runs on seven hits. The innings pitched and strikeout total surpassed Mergen’s previous career bests recorded May 11, 2011 at Miami University when he struck out four in 6 1-3 innings.
The UC offense was limited to just six hits. Cincinnati’s only extra-base hit came from sophomore right fielder Justin Glass (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll), who went 1 for 4 with a double. Senior catcher Jake Saylor (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton/Paradise Valley CC) was lone Bearcat to score after hitting 1 for 4.
Xavier scored twice in the top of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. XU shortstop Patrick Paligraf led off the inning with a walk and scored from first base two batters later when designated hitter Derek Hasenbeck doubled to left-center. Hasenbeck advanced to third on a passed ball and was driven in by first baseman Seth Dawes, who singled up the middle for an RBI.
UC plated one run in the top of the fourth to cut Xavier’s lead in half at 2-1. Sophomore designated hitter Matt Williams (Mason, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian) led off with a single and Saylor reached on error by XU third baseman Tres Eberhardt. Junior shortstop J.P. Jackson (Bowling Green, Ky./Bowling Green/Western Kentucky) flied out to center field before Williams was picked off at second, which turned out to be costly after senior first baseman Nic Spence (Victoria, Australia/St. Joseph’s CC/Central Arizona CC) singled to center field. With Saylor at third and Spence on first, the two seniors executed a delayed double-steal in which Spence baited a throw to second, allowing Saylor to steal home.
The Musketeers scored their third run of the ballgame in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. XU center fielder Mark Elwell hit a leadoff single and advanced to second and third on consecutive wild pitches. Paligraf drove in Elwell with an RBI single up the middle. The inning could have been much worse for the Bearcats after XU loaded the bases, but Mergen buckled down and induced XU right fielder Brian Bruening into a groundball out to end the frame.
Xavier scored its fourth run of the game in the eighth. Pinch hitter Daniel Rod reached on a throwing error by UC second baseman Sam Vandenheuvel (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton/Mesa CC). XU catcher Joey Noble bunted Rod over to second base. Pinch hitter Selby Chidemo singled to center field and advanced to second on a throw to home plate to give the Musketeers runners on second and third with one out.
After the Chidemo single, junior left-hander Thomas Gentile (Westerville, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales) entered the game for Mergen. Gentile’s first batsman faced, Elwell executed a suicide squeeze bunt that plated Rod and gave Xavier a 4-1 lead. Gentile got Paligraf to ground out to third base to end the threat.
Cincinnati will resume its two-game home-and-home series against the Musketeers 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Marge Schott Stadium. Freshman right-hander Art Warren (Stryker, Ohio/Napoleon) is slated to start for the Bearcats. Wednesday’s ballgame can be seen live on GoBEARCATS.com and will be broadcast on Real Talk 1160 WQRT-AM.