May 10, 2014
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - Sophomore starter Luke Cahill (Tinton Falls, N.J.) turned in eight stellar innings and the Seton Hall baseball team sent nine hitters to the plate in a late rally that broke open a tie game and sent the Pirates to a three-game sweep of Xavier with a 7-3 victory in the second half of a Saturday doubleheader.
The Hall (36-11, 10-5) took three games from the Musketeers (24-24, 7-8) after the two squads entered the weekend tied for third-place in the conference standings. The right-hander Cahill allowed just two runs while striking out a career-high 11 batters; more than double his previous personal best. The sophomore out-dueled Xavier ace Vinny Nittoli (5-3), improving to an impressive 9-1 in the process.
With the teams deadlocked at 2-2, the Pirates created the decisive separation by hanging five runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh. The bottom of the lineup got it started as senior Chris Selden (Allenhurst, N.J.) roped a double down the left field line to lead off the inning and moved to third when classmate Dillon Hamlin (Colts Neck, N.J.) followed with a single. Out of the #9 hole; Chris Chiaradio (Teaneck, N.J.) shot a single through the right side to score Selden and put The Hall on top for good.
Hamlin came home on a wild pitch to account for the eventual game-winning run and after Derek Jenkins (Annandale, N.J.) was hit by a pitch, Zack Weigel (Oak Park, Ill.) executed a sacrifice bunt. Kyle Grimm (Bergenfield, N.J.) followed by driving home Chiaradio with a double to left field; paving the way for Sal Annunziata (Bronx, N.Y.) to deliver the final blow.
Up against Sean Campbell who came on in relief of Nittoli in the middle of the seventh, Annunziata got a hold of a pitch and sent it to deep right-center for a two-RBI triple that stretched the lead to 7-2. The triple was the first of the season for Annunziata who leads the Pirates with 22 extra-base hits on the year. The junior first baseman went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the nightcap, finishing the series 5-for-12 (.417) at the dish with six runs driven in. He now stands at the BIG EAST leader with 46 RBIs in 45 appearances thus far in 2014.
The outburst capped a stretch of six unanswered runs for The Hall as after the Pirates moved out in front in the bottom of the first for the third-straight game, the Musketeers battled back to take a 2-1 lead. Seton Hall's opening run came as Jenkins reached with a bunt single and eventually stole his way to third base. Grimm got the Pirates on the board with a sacrifice fly to center that scored SHU's leadoff man, who wreaked havoc from the top of the lineup throughout the three-game set.
Jenkins finished the series with six runs scored and four stolen bases, effectively setting the table for a Seton Hall offense that outscored Xavier, 26-to-5, over two days.
All of Xavier's damage came in the third inning as Michael Moore tied the score with his second home run of the season and later Brian Bruening scored on a wild pitch. The Musketeers remained in front until the home half of the sixth when Annunziata singled home Jenkins to pull the Pirates level.
Chiaradio and Selden also finished 2-for-4 in game three, combining with Annunziata to account for six of the squad's nine hits in the contest.
The Pirates clinched a spot in the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament with an extra-inning win in game one of the twinbill and will enter the final week of the regular season with a 17-1 record at Owen T. Carroll Field that includes a nation-leading 14-game home winning streak.
The Hall will remain home for final four games of the regular season, including a three-game series with St. John's who currently sits atop the BIG EAST standings with an 11-2 conference record. First, the Pirates will host Fairfield in a mid-week matchup on Tuesday, May 13. First pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m.