May 21, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio - Junior Oliver Palmer launched his first career grand slam as part of a five-run fifth inning and starter Tim Boyce pitched effectively into the seventh as second-seeded Rhode Island edged No. 3 Xavier, 7-6, on Wednesday afternoon at the 2009 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship at Fifth Third Field.
Making its seventh consecutive appearance in the Championship and seeking its first crown since 2005, the Rams will face top-seeded Dayton at Noon on Friday with the winners advancing to Saturday's championship round. The win marked Rhody's 36th of the season, a program single-season record.
Vying for its first-ever A-10 titile, Xavier (34-19) will face the CHA-UM winner on Friday at 3:30pm.
Trailing 7-4 entering the ninth, Xavier mounted a rally as Lindgren opened the inning with a single off URI closer Luke Demko before first baseman Ben Thomas and senior Jordan Conley drew walks. Junior Dan Rossignol came on in relief of Demko
and after fanning Zac Richard and Brown, XU third baseman John McCambridge lined a two-run single to center to bring the Musketeers to within 7-6. However, senior Adam Pasono flew out to right as Rossignol notched his second save of the season.
"Every time we play Xavier we have good, close, hard fought games. To beat them you have to play all 27 outs," said URI head coach Jim Foster.
"Tomorrow versus Dayton should be a great game. They swing the bat very, very well."
Xavier jumped out to a 1-0 in the top of the first as catcher Billy O'Conner drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a single by junior Drew Schmidt and came around to score on Neil Lindgren's RBI single. URI quickly answered in the bottom of the first as A-10 Player of the Year Dan Rhault sent an offering by XU starter Danny Rosenbaum into the seats in left.
Boyce and Rosenbaum were locked in a pitcher's duel before the Musketeers strung together two-out singles by Brown and McCambridge. However, Boyce kept XU off the scoreboard as Angulo made a nice running catch on Adam Pasono's fly to left. The junior righthander allowed three runs on five hits over 6.1 innings with four walks and three strikeouts as he improved to 6-2.
URI erupted for five runs in the seventh on five consecutive hits, including an RBI single by junior Zoey Angulo and Palmer's 11th home run of the season just above the 402-ft sign in centerfield.
"I just wanted to something out in the air and stay out of the double play in that situation," said Palmer, one of nine different Rams to collect at least one hit on the afternoon.
"I put a good swing on it and it just carried out of there."
Xavier cut the Rhode Island to 6-3 in the seventh on a two-run double by second baseman Drew Schmidt and loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against URI sophomore Ken Graveline. An RBI fielder's choice by O'Conner scored Brown from third but Schmidt's line drive to center on the first pitch delivered by southpaw Mark Fraser was snared by centerfielder Kenny Burns to end the inning. Rhody added an insurance run in the eighth as freshman Mike LeBel's two-out bunt single scored sophomore Tom Coulombe.
McCambridge paced the Musketeers with three hits and two RBI, while Brown, Lindgren and Schmidt collected two hits apiece. Rosenbaum fell to 5-5 on the year after allowing seven runs on 10 hits in 7.2 innings with two strikeouts.