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SXU sports summary

Kerr earns 12th-place finish for Cougars golfers

There was nothing dirty about this dozen.
Coming in 12th among a group of 81 golfers was an impressive showing for St. Xavier University's James Kerr, particularly when the field featured a number of top NAIA competitors. That's where the senior wound up in at the Midwest Classic, hosted by Indiana Wesleyan University at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.
Kerr posted a two-day score of 151 at the event, which broke down into individual rounds of a one-over-par 73 on Day 1 and 78 on the second day. That placed him nine shots and 32 places ahead of senior teammate Brendan Ryan, who fired rounds of 78 and 82. Rounding out the Cougars' scoring were freshman Kyle Yaeger (163, 51st place) and freshman Robert Lively (171, 78th).
SXU (643) was 13th in the 16-school tournament. Half of the teams were ranked or had received votes in the most recent NAIA Men's Golf Coaches Top 25 poll.
"With two of our top three golfers out with injuries, we plugged in two of our freshmen, who played well in their first big competition," Cougars coach Mike Mandakas said. "We look to get healthy for our tournament and start preparing for our conference tournament."
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Senior Kirby Brown led the Cougars in their first Midwest tournament of the spring, as his two-round score of 147 topped SXU golfers at the Blue Ridge Top Invitational in Riverside, Iowa.
SXU compiled a cumulative team score of 605 (302-303), which was good for fifth place overall. Host school Mount Mercy University’s Blue squad posted the low score of 581 (293-288).
The Cougars’ other participants were Ryan (152), junior Kyle Bahnick (153), Kerr (163) and freshman Mark Kluk (164). Lively competed as an individual and carded rounds of 75 and 85 for a 160 total.
“Our team was hoping for a better finish [that] weekend, but it was just a warm-up for the NAIA Midwest Classic at the Brickyard in Indianapolis,” Mandakas said.
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Brown became the second Cougar recognized by the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference as its Men's Golfer of the Week after being honored following SXU's appearance at the Blue Ridge Top Invitational.
Brown's 147 score for the tourney was only three strokes over par and was good enough to land him in the No. 8 spot among finishers. Fifty-nine golfers and 11 teams participated in the invitational.
Bahnick garnered the other CCAC Player of the Week designation this season.
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Everything came together for the Cougars last weekend, as all four of their scorers finished among the top 10 individuals. That across-the-board excellence translated into a team victory for SXU, which totaled 588 strokes over the two-day Pilot Spring Invitational in South Bend, Ind., and bested runner -up Bethel College by eight shots.
Kerr led the way for the Cougars at Blackthorn Golf Club as he recorded rounds of 67 and 78, the former of which represented the tourney's lowest 18-hole score. His combined 145 landed Kerr just one shot in arrears of tourney winner Ryan Hilton of Ashford University.
Brown was fourth overall among 82 golfers with a 146 total, built on a pair of 73s. Bahnick (147; 73-74) was fifth for SXU, while Ryan (150; 75-75) tied for ninth to complete his squad's scoring. Kluk entered as an individual and shot a 165 (83-82).
The Cougars take part in the CCAC Men's Championship on Monday and Tuesday at the George Dunne Golf Course in Oak Forest.
WOMEN'S GOLF
Freshman Taylor Thompson tied for the No. 8 spot and the Cougars wound up sixth as a team at the Pilot Spring Invitational, hosted by Bethel College.
Thompson's two-day total of 164 (84-80) was part of SXU's cumulative 767 score. Also contributing to the latter were freshmen Kate Reno (176; 86-90), Courtney Dudgeon (181; 97-84) and Ashley Anderson (246; 131-115), who occupied the 20th, 22nd and 37th positions, respectively.
The Cougars will participate in the CCAC Women's Championship Wednesday at Gleneagles Golf Course in Lemont.
MEN’S TRACK
The Cougars opened their 2014 outdoor season at the University of Chicago’s Ted Haydon Invitational, an unscored meet.
Highlights for SXU included first-place finishes by juniors Janis Pastars and John Stancato. Pastars paced the field in the 1,500-meter run with his time of 4 minutes, 1.24 seconds, while Stancato clocked an 11.33 to capture the 100-dash. Stancato took third in the 200 in 22.53.
Freshman Abel Hernandez supplied the Cougars with a runner-up showing at 5,000 meters, which he covered in 15:26.
“This was a good opportunity to get the rust off,” SXU coach Ed McAllister said. “Many of our guys haven’t competed in five weeks, so it was good to see where we were after a long, cold winter.
“Stancato looked strong, as did Pastars, [and] Hernandez proved that he is able to handle longer distances. Overall, we are where we should be right now.”
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Record-setting performances by Pastars at 5,000 meters and Hernandez at 10,000 highlighted the Cougars' exhibition in last weekend's Chicagoland Championships at Lewis University.
Hernandez claimed SXU's first win in an outdoor event at the annual meet by clocking a 31:47 on Friday and setting a school standard in the process. Pastars, meanwhile, placed third in his race with an NAIA National Championship-qualifying time of 14:56, which also established a Cougars record.
"Janis ran very well in an event that is not his strongest," McAllister said. "He is a 1,500 runner, so this run was very solid. However, Abel surprised everyone, not only with his race performance, but the poise shown by a freshman in his first-ever 10,000."
Saturday began well for SXU, too, as junior Brandon Gentry took 11th in the triple jump with his leap of 41 feet, 8 inches and Stancato qualified for the 100-dash finals after crossing the finish line in 10.97. However, the latter was unable to compete later on after suffering an injury.
Other top-10 finishers for the Cougars included sophomore Rexford Wiafe (fifth in the 800-run in 2 minutes flat), senior Brian Corcoran (sixth in the 800, 2:01) and junior Daniel Spencer (10th in the 400-intermediate hurdles).
"The conditions were very different Friday to Saturday and the wind gusts slowed down the times on Saturday significantly," McAllister said. "Brian and Rex ran good races despite the weather-impeded times.
"We hope that the injury to Stancato is not a season-ending one. He was running extremely well and it will be a ‘wait and see’ as to extent of the injury.”
SXU is back in action next Thursday at Benedictine University's Eagle Twilight Invitational.
BASEBALL
Sophomore Alec Barnhart's double in the top of the ninth drove in what proved to be the winning run as the Cougars edged Trinity Christian College 5-4 in the back end of a CCAC doubleheader last Monday. That allowed SXU to earn a split, as the Trolls captured Game 1 by a 5-2 count.
The Cougars trailed 2-0 after one inning of the nightcap, but senior Brad Myjak got them on the board in the top of the second when he scored following a Trinity error. RBI from sophomore Jim Augle (groundout) and senior Chris Klein (sacrifice fly) pulled SXU even at 3-all in the fifth, then senior Tom Keating went deep one inning later to hand the Cougars their first lead.
The Trolls forged another deadlock in the bottom of that same stanza, but did not tally again. After two quiet at-bats, the Cougars finally struck the decisive blow with Barnhart's two-base hit.
Freshman Adrian Luna pitched the final two frames for SXU to collect the victory.
Freshmen Bryan Polak and Ryan Pellack had the Cougars' RBI in the opener, with both of them delivering in the second inning. That handed SXU a 2-0 advantage, but Mark Munizzi's RBI double and Danny Britt's three-run homer put the Trolls ahead to stay in the third.
Freshman Jesse Lopez took the loss after throwing all six innings for the Cougars.
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Polak's two-run homer in the sixth represented the full extent of SXU's production last Tuesday, as it dropped a 7-2 verdict to NCAA Division II Lewis University in Romeoville.
Polak, whose blast brought the Cougars within 3-2 at that juncture, stroked two hits on the day, as did junior Damon Softcheck. Klein doubled ahead of Polak's round-tripper.
Senior Dan Maton was the losing pitcher.
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SXU fell again in the first game of a CCAC twinbill last Wednesday in Whiting, Ind., but it bounced back from that 2-1 setback to Calumet College of St. Joseph to pin a 7-3 defeat on the hosts in Game 2.
The Cougars used four unanswered runs over the final three innings to pull away from the Crimson Wave in the second contest. Barnhart's sacrifice fly in the seventh inched SXU in front, then Keating (two-run) and Polak both socked eighth-inning homers to provide the visitors with some cushion.
Pellack also homered for the Cougars, doing so in the third frame to get them on the board. Barnhart's two-run single accounted for SXU's other RBI in the fifth. The Cougars wound up with 10 hits in all.
Benefiting from all that offense was junior hurler Dan Wetzel, who struck out eight and effectively scattered nine hits en route to moving his record to 3-2.
Senior Scott Vachon was also sharp on the hill in Game 1, but the Cougars' own attack was noticeably quiet as it generated just six hits. Barnhart, who ended the day with a 4-for-8, three-RBI effort, was the lone SXU player to notch multiple hits in the opener.
Pellack's double and junior Bryan Villanova's single supplied the Cougars with their only run in the third. Calumet College pitcher Enrique Zamora whiffed 10 SXU batters and surrendered only two singles over the last three stanzas.
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Cougars coach Mike Dooley, who is retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign, reached a milestone on Saturday when SXU handed him his 800th career victory. It came while the Cougars were sweeping a CCAC twinbill from Roosevelt, 11-9 and 13-6, at Richard R. Ferrell Field.
Dooley, who has guided SXU's baseball program since 1993, had a career ledger of 800-491-3 at the end of the day.
Thirty hits over the two games made the Cougars' sweep possible. They and the Lakers combined for 27 hits in Game 1, and Roosevelt used a grand slam in the sixth inning to grab a 9-7 edge.
However, SXU responded with a four-spot that was highlighted by Keating's two-RBI double. Klein (three hits, pitching win) and Barnhart (four RBI, two runs scored) were other key figures for the Cougars.
SXU used a seven-run explosion in the second stanza to get the jump on the Lakers in Game 2. Myjak fueled the uprising with his two-RBI double. He drove in another run with his third-inning triple and then crossed the plate on Pellack's sacrifice fly.
Roosevelt made some noise after that, but not enough to prevent the Cougars from logging another win. Myjak and Keating (two doubles) both delivered three hits on SXU's behalf, while Klein had two, including a homer. Klein knocked in a total of three runs and tallied twice.
Lopez earned the pitching victory after striking out five and scattering eight hits over seven innings. Only two of the runs scored off him were earned.
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The Cougars wasted Keating's three doubles and seven RBI last Friday, as some defensive miscues enabled Purdue University Calumet to make off with a 13-11 road triumph in CCAC play.
The Peregrines amassed four runs in their half of the ninth, a rally spurred in part by a dropped third strike and throwing error. PUC's late surge allowed it to survive a furious SXU onslaught that brought the hosts back from a 7-1 deficit.
Klein scored three times for the Cougars. Jeremy Dryier, the last of four SXU pitchers, suffered the loss.
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Myjak doubled twice, knocked in a pair of runs and scored two others, but that wasn't enough to spare the Cougars from a 7-6 loss to Roosevelt Sunday at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. A second game, which was to be played as a nonconference affair, was halted by rain in the second inning.
SXU (15-20, 10-5) scored four times in its initial plate appearance, but the Lakers used a total of three tallies between the second and third frames to remain close to the Cougars. Four more markers in the late going, including two in the bottom of the ninth, then pushed Roosevelt past SXU.
Myjak's two-run double, plus RBI singles from Polak and Pellack staked the Cougars to their early edge. SXU errors gave the Lakers a boost a short while later, but sophomore Steve Carrabotta's single and freshman Tom Hayes' sacrifice fly in the fourth and eighth stanzas, respectively, put the Cougars on the brink of a victory before Roosevelt made its final charge.
Pellack ended the day 3-for-3. Vachon struck out seven while pitching the first 7 1/3 innings. Wetzel took the loss in relief.
SXU resumed play this past Tuesday with a CCAC doubleheader against Holy Cross College.
SOFTBALL
The No. 11-ranked Cougars registered two more shutouts last Tuesday, as they blanked Roosevelt University 15-0 and 5-0 in a CCAC doubleheader in Rosemont. The opener lasted just five innings.
The Nonnemacher sisters were again in control in the pitching circle. Both senior Megan Nonnemacher and sophomore Nicole Nonnemacher tossed three-hit shutouts, with the former recording four strikeouts in five frames and Nicole setting down eight batters on third strikes over seven innings.
Between them, the sisters have thrown 14 shutouts this spring while going a combined 19-3.
Megan Nonnemacher got all the help she needed right away, as SXU put up a total of seven runs during its first two plate appearances. Key hits came from junior Shannon Lauret (RBI double) and Nicole Nonnemacher (two-run single) at the outset, then two RBI apiece from junior Amanda Hainlen and sophomore Kasey Kanaga fueled a six-run outburst for the Cougars in the fourth.
Lauret finished 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs to lead the assault. Junior Katie Sears scored four times and stole three bases to further aid the SXU cause.
Sears and freshman Franchesca Graffeo each stroked an RBI single in the fifth to break a scoreless tie in Game 2. Senior Ariel Hinton added an RBI double in the sixth, part of a three-run Cougars rally.
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The Nonnemacher sisters rode high once more last Thursday, as they pitched SXU to yet another sweep, this time over neighboring Trinity Christian College. Unlike against Roosevelt, though, there were plenty of nervous moments before the Cougars emerged victorious by scores of 2-1 and 2-0.
In the opener, Trolls pitcher Mattie McGuire was pretty much Megan Nonnemacher's equal. SXU's only run through five innings came on a Trinity error, and the Cougars hit safely just once over the first three frames.
Hainlen's sacrifice bunt in the sixth finally pushed home a second run for SXU, which proved crucial after the Trolls erased Nonnemacher's shutout in the seventh. Trinity had the tying and go-ahead runs on base with only one out, but Nonnemacher closed it out by inducing a double play off a pop foul and relay to first.
In upping her record to 11-1, Nonnemacher scattered six hits, fanned six and walked no one.
Nicole Nonnemacher whiffed 12 in the nightcap and allowed just five hits in collecting her ninth whitewash of the season. Freshman Savannah Kinsella's RBI single and a wild pitch thrown by the Trolls gave Nonnemacher all the run support she needed in the bottom of the first.
Trinity hurler Brianna Brugioni took the loss for Trinity despite giving up only four hits.
The Cougars' sweep made it 13 wins in the last 14 games for them and a 23-3 start to the campaign. A year ago, SXU captured victories in 38 of its first 41 contests, the best run in program history.
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The Cougars picked up four more runs through Saturday, as they swept Trinity International University (8-0, 9-1) on Friday and Cardinal Stritch University (4-0, 7-4) on Saturday.
Nicole Nonnemacher did a little of everything for SXU versus the Wolves. She was the winning pitcher in Game 1 after whiffing 13 and surrendering five hits, and she also chipped in to the Cougars' attack with three hits — including a double — and three RBI on the day. Nonnemacher also scored a run.
Kinsella (homer), Kanaga (single) and Hainlen (sacrifice bunt) all drove in runs for SXU in the opener.
Hainlen's three-run homer was the crushing blow in Game 2, but Nonnemacher (two hits, including a double, two RBI), Graffeo and Houlihan also delivered RBI on the Cougars' behalf. Megan Nonnemacher pocketed the pitching win, even though she endured a period of struggle in the fourth inning, when Stritch smacked five hits and collected all of its runs.
Nonnemacher allowed only two other hits in the game and struck out seven to move her record to 13-1.
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Hainlen became the first Cougars player in more than three years to homer twice in the same contest, and that power display lifted SXU to its 8-0 triumph over Trinity International in the opener of a Friday twinbill. The last Cougar to go deep twice in the same game was Ashley Hunter, who did so on March 31, 2011, versus Trinity Christian.
Hainlen had four RBI in all. Additional offensive help for SXU came from Kanaga (one hit, two RBI) and Houlihan (one hit, two runs). Megan Nonnemacher tossed a one-hitter and whiffed four to gain the pitching victory.
Game 2 was minus any heroics similar to Hainlen's, but the Cougars still rolled past the Trojans for a second time. Four-run outbursts in the second and fourth innings enabled SXU to pull away.
Key figures for the Cougars included Kinsella (two hits, two RBI, one run), Houlihan (two hits, two runs), Lauret (two hits, two runs) and Graffeo (double, three RBI, one run). All that support allowed freshman pitcher Callie Brown to log her third win after fanning three and scattering four hits over five innings.
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SXU held the University of St. Francis to a total of six hits over two games on Sunday, which paved the way for yet another doubleheader sweep. This time, the Cougars (29-3, 13-1) scored 1-0 and 10-0 triumphs at SXU Softball Field, stretching their winning streak to 13 in the process.
The shutouts were the 19th and 20th thrown by Cougars pitchers this season.
Nicole Nonnemacher earned the Game 1 victory by tossing a four-hitter and striking out 11. Her performance was necessary because SXU's own attack was quiet most of the way.
Finally in the eighth, a walk to junior Megan James and Houlihan's single set up a scoring opportunity. The Fighting Saints registered one out, but an ensuing error brought pinch runner Denise Anderson home with the contest's lone run.
The Cougars' bats were in fine working order in the second contest as they produced 14 hits. Nine of those safeties came in the third inning, which created an eight-run rally for SXU. Graffeo, James and Kanaga each contributed a two-RBI single to the uprising.
James and Sears both drove in runs in the second. All that offense made it an easy day for Megan Nonnemacher, who pitched a two-hitter.
The Cougars squared off with NCAA Division II Wisconsin-Parkside this past Tuesday in Kenosha.