Behind the bats of Brad Elwood and Shane Basen and the arm of Brock Hudgens, the Niners cruised into Championship Saturday with a 12-3 win over Xavier on Friday.
The Niners got started early with a RBI single by Justin Seager in the 1st to jump ahead 1-0. They would tack on another one in the top of the third on an Elwood single to get it to 2-0, then struck for three more on a Bassen RBI single and a Elwood two-run single to go up 5-0.
But the Niners were far from done, taking advantage of some shoddy Xavier defense. With one out in the 6th, Brett Lang scored on an error to make it 6-0, followed by a dirtball by Musketeers starter Tyler Koors to bring in JJ Elseser and make it 7-0.
The big blow, though, was in the top of the eighth–a grand slam by Basen, celebrating his birthday today, to make it an 11-1 ballgame. Vinny Nittoli’s two-run homer in the bottom half made it 11-3, but the Niners got a run back in the ninth on another Koors dirtball as Tony Montalbano scored from third for the game’s final margin.
Apart from the homer to Nittoli, Hudgens was sharp over 8 innings. He allowed three runs off of five hits while walking four and striking out three. Also of importance–he perserved a Niner bullpen that will be nice and rested tomorrow if needed after Barnette’s strong start and John Hamilton’s CG yesterday.
Meanwhile, Elwood is making a strong case to be a runaway for the tournament’s most outstanding player. He went 2-5 today with three RBI, bringing his total to seven RBI in the championship. Basen finished with a 3-5 day with 5 RBI and might have gotten himself in the conversation as well.
The Niners will have two cracks at it tomorrow as they play the winner of tonight’s elimination game between Xavier and the winner of Saint Louis/George Washington. First pitch is at noon; the second game, if necessary, will be at approximately 3:30.