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College Baseball: St. Xavier finds hitting groove

For 17 games, the St. Xavier baseball team was hitting, but not hitting enough.

The Cougars scored 4.4 runs per game, but their record stood at a disappointing 4-13.

Winning seven of its next nine games though, St. Xavier found a rhythm at the plate, scoring 7.6 runs per game. Last week, St. Xavier coach Mike Dooley saw his team rattle off five straight wins. The Cougars scored at least six runs in all five of those games, including two double-digit efforts.

“When you’re scoring double figures each game, you’re getting contributions from a lot of people,” Dooley said. “We’re scoring some runs, and that takes the pressure off the pitching.”

The offensive success has come after some juggling in the batting order. Bryan Villanova, who had been hitting in the middle of the order, was moved to the leadoff spot. Through 19 games, the St. Laurence grad was hitting .346 with a team-high .493 on-base percentage.

Dooley also credited Alec Barnhart (Oak Lawn) for his strong play. The sophomore was leading the team with four home runs to go with 19 RBI and 20 runs. Senior Chris Klein was batting a team-best .381 with 23 runs.

Scott Vachon (2-3, 3.23 ERA, 37 strikeouts) and Klein (2-2, 3.96 ERA, 33 strikeouts) have led the pitching staff.

“The key is you’ve got to have some pitching depth,” Dooley said. “All these games coming up, every pitcher on the staff is going to figure into it. I’m not looking for guys to go out and dominate. We’re not a high-strikeout team, other than Vachon, so we’ve got to be consistent defensively because the ball is going to be in play. Give us a chance to win.”

St. Xavier will visit Lewis at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Prairie State’s Swisher throws a no-no

In sophomore pitcher Joe Prete (Stagg), Prairie State has an ace around whom to build a pitching staff.

Fellow sophomore John Swisher is doing his best to carve out that No. 2 spot in the rotation. Swisher, a Peotone grad, threw a no-hitter last week in Prairie State’s 13-0 five-inning win over Morton.

“John did an excellent job throwing strikes with all of his pitches,” Prairie State coach Bill Storrs Jr. said in a release. “He’s always had a lot of talent, but now he’s starting to show the kind of grit, confidence and competitiveness that are going to allow him to continue to have a tremendous amount of success.”

The 5-foot-8 southpaw struck out six and walked two in Prairie State’s first no-hitter since 2010.



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