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Nightmare third inning dooms XULA in first game of double-elimination playoffs

XULA, in its first season of baseball after several decades away, succumbs to the bats of Boston's Fisher College in the first round of double-elimination playoffs.

Xavier University of Louisiana fell 11-7 last night against Fisher College in the A,I,I, Baseball Championship, a tough loss that puts them in a win-or-go-home position today to save their season.

The game was not dissimilar to their final outing last weekend, in which they surrendered 6 runs early to Bluefield State in the championship of the Black College World Series.

Like that start, yesterday’s involved a litany of walks, hit-by-pitches, and fielding mishaps to give the opponent a lead they would never surrender.

This, despite the Gold Rush bringing out the big guns in HBCU All Star pitcher Blair Frederick to start the game. He had a strong two innings before things fell apart in the third, where Fisher scored 7 of their 11 runs—a season-high allowance for XULA.

His relief Trey Clark didn’t fare much better, giving up 6 of them himself. A third pitcher, freshman Ryan Kinney, pitched three clean innings to close the game.

The nation’s Catholic HBCU had led 3-0 before the nightmare inning, thanks to an early homer from catcher Tristan Rodriguez—also an HBCU All-Star—but they never scored more than 2 runs in their three scoring innings thereafter, stranding runners in the 7th and the 8th.

(They left 12 runners on base overall, also a season-high.)

Moreover, the inability to contain the Falcons’ bats down the stretch spelled doom, as nearly every scoring inning from XULA was met with multiple runs from Fisher in response.

The loss, which puts the Gold Rush at 26-10, lands them in the losers’ bracket of their first playoffs—and season—in nearly 60 years.

In attendance last night was one Leslie “Les” Sudbury (‘61), a member of the final baseball team before all sports were disbanded at the school so many decades ago. He was one bright spot despite the game outcome.

The team will play Crowley’s Ridge today at 3pm EST to stay alive.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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