The Purdue North Central baseball team split a doubleheader against visiting St. Xavier University Saturday afternoon in Westville. The Panthers dropped the first game 6-2 before rebounding to win the second game 5-4. PNC is 18-24 overall and 9-11 in the CCAC while the Cougars moved to 28-13 and 14-4.
In the first game senior Shane Prance (3-5) took the loss despite going the distance. He gave up 6 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8. The odd innings were unkind to the right-hander as he gave up 3 runs in the first inning, 2 in the third and 1 in the fifth.
The Panthers scored 2 runs in the fourth inning to cut it to 5-2 but left 7 men on base. They finished with 8 hits by 8 different players and a walk against two St. Xavier pitchers and saw the Cougars defense commit 2 errors.
Sophomore Colin Willis led the way by reaching twice on a single and walk. Senior Jeff Strbjak had a 2-run double and freshman Ty Taylor also added a double. Senior Nate Hall contributed a single and reached on a hit-by-pitch.
In the second game senior Tony Hoolehan (3-4) earned the complete game victory by allowing 4 runs (2 earned) all in the second inning and nothing else. He struck 1 one batter, the first of the game, and walked 2.
After scoring 1 in the bottom of the first he Panthers rallied from the 4-1 deficit by scoring solo runs in the second, third, fifth and seventh innings.
Senior Jeff Strbjak had the game winning walk-off hit with runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the seventh. The stout designated hitter laced a single down the right field line to score Willis who reached on a double. After St. Xavier intentionally walked junior Ched Gaskin, Strbjak worked his magic.
The Panthers outhit the Cougars 11-6 and committed 1 error while St. Xavier had none.
Willis (3 hits, 2 2B's, 3 runs) and Gaskin (3 hits, 2 RBI, BB) led the way offensively for PNC. Junior Greg Toliver added a run-scoring double and sophomore Kevin Gates contributed a RBI single. Senior Nate Hall (2B, BB), freshman Ty Taylor (1B, BB) and Strbjak (BB in addition to game winning hit) all reached multiple times.