INDIANAPOLIS - Xavier scored two runs in the top of the 9th to sneak past the Butler baseball team 4-3 on Friday afternoon. With the win, Xavier clinched a spot in next week's Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship at Charlotte.
Butler (25-26, 12-11) trailed for most of the game but scored twice in the bottom of the 8th to take a late lead but couldn't hang on.
BU needs help to make the conference tourney. BU will enter the season's final day tied for eighth place, one game behind George Washington and Richmond. Seven teams make the tournament bracket. Charlotte, Saint Louis, Rhode Island, La Salle and Xavier have all stamped their tickets to Charlotte.
Xavier (29-24, 15-8) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd as Scott Klever and Kyle Kramp engaged in a pitching duel. With both right-handers putting zeroes on the scoreboard and Kramp making clutch pitches to strand Musketeer baserunners, Xavier managed to move ahead 2-0 in the 6th inning on an RBI double by Tres Eberhardt.
Butler got on the board when junior Marco Caponi doubled and scored on a single by freshman Mike Kseniak. After sophomore Kyle Allen pitched a scoreless 8th inning, the Dawgs finally took the lead. Sophomore Michael Fries smacked a two-run single with two outs to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-2.
With storm clouds slowly creeping in, Derek Hasenbeck doubled to lead off the top of the 9th and Vinny Natoli followed with a single. With runners on the corners, and nobody out, Joe Forner put down a sac bunt. The runner on third scored the tying run, but there was a throwing error on the play that set up runners on second and third. The go-ahead run scored on a bases-loaded walk moments later.
Xavier's Alex Vice closed the game for his eighth save. Freshman Drew Small did manage a single in the inning to put pressure on XU, but Vice got a double play ball to end the game. A heavy rainstorm followed moments later, with both teams working together to pull the tarp on the field.
Fries and Kseniak each had two hits for Butler. Senior Chase Byerly took the loss. Xavier's Jacob Bodner was the winning pitcher. Nittoli went 3-for-5 with a double and Patrick Paligraf and Selby Chidemo each had two hits.
The contest was Butler's last at home this season. Saturday's season finale against Xavier will be at Victory Field at 2 p.m.