SAU baseball celebrates winning the CCAC Tournament
SAU baseball celebrates winning the CCAC Tournament
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Saint Xavier University
St. Ambrose
Baseball - Tue, May 9, 2017

It's been quite a ride. 

A 14-game winning streak and now a tournament championship. And the journey will continue at the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round.

St. Ambrose extended its winning streak to 14 games to win the 2017 CCAC Baseball Tournament and an automatic bid to Nationals with a 2-0 shutout of Saint Xavier in the championship game Tuesday night in Elgin, Ill.

A strong pitching performance and RBI singles from Mike Miller and Andrew Barreto were the difference.

Jake Sheley was tremendous, allowing just three hits and striking out four while working into the seventh.

The offense did just enough, scoring both runs in the third. Zach Hart reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on Kevin Zanger's ground out. Miller gave SAU the lead with a two-out single to right and alertly moved up a base on the throw home. Barreto then dropped a single into right center to plate Miller with a second run.

Sheley (8-7) tired in the seventh, giving up back-to-back walks to start the frame before giving way to Cooper Sant Amour. After a wild pitch moved the potential tying runs to second and third with no outs, Sant Amour got out of trouble. He struck out two before issuing a walk to load the bases. He then survived a fly ball down the right field line that landed just foul before getting a shallow fly out to center to preserve the shutout.

Sant Amour, who earned his ninth save of the season with four strikeouts in three innings, got around a leadoff walk in the ninth as Zanger came down with a blooper that looked like it may get over his head for the final out to start the celebration.

SAU was a perfect 4-0 in the tournament, outscoring the opposition by a combined 32-7 score. The baseball team is the second St. Ambrose program to win a CCAC Tournament title, joining the men's volleyball program which won the 2016 tournament.

The Bees will be one of the hottest teams heading to the national tournament. The nine, five-team double-elimination opening-round brackets will be announced Thursday and opening round action will be played May 15-18. This is the first time St. Ambrose has played in the Opening Round, since the NAIA adopted this format nine years ago. SAU last played in a regional in 2008 and has not appeared in the National Championships since a national-runner up finish in 1996.