On the same weekend it lost its most famous alum, Xavier baseball clinched its third BIG EAST Championship in four years, beating No. 20 St. John's 7-6 at TD Ameritrade Park.
It was the second straight league tournament title for the Musketeers, who moved to 32-25 overall with a seventh straight win. XU has now scored 70 runs during the spurt.
Xavier also improves to 9-1 in BIG EAST Tournament games all-time after sweeping its way to the title last season and going 3-1 in 2014.
On Friday, Xavier graduate and former Musketeer baseball standout James "Jim" Bunning (Xavier '53) died. Bunning, a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and former United States Senator, was 85 years old.
It was fitting then, that his college team continued a hot streak that propelled them into the NCAA Tournament.
With the loss, St. John's dropped to 42-11 and earned an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, which gave the BIG EAST two bids to the national tournament for the first time in its current configuration.
Xavier fell behind 3-0 and then 6-3, battling back both times and eventually taking the lead for good with a four-run seventh inning.
Sophomore Trey Schramm was lights out in the bullpen for a second straight game, recording a six-out save and striking out three. Senior Brad Kirschner got the win, tossing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief as XU held on.
P: Zac Lowther, XU
P: Trey Schramm, XU
INF: Gui Gringras, SJU
INF: Chris Givin, XU
INF: Josh Shaw, SJU
INF: Mitch Gallagher, XU
OF: Riley Landuyt, CU
OF: Michael Donadio, SJU
OF: Will LaRue, XU
C: MIchael Emodi, CU
DH: Conor Grammes, XU
Jack Kaiser Most Outstanding Player: Conor Grammes, Xavier, Fr., DH
BUNNING WAS A HALL OF FAMER, SENATOR
Bunning, who was inducted into the Xavier Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995, pitched for the Musketeers' freshman team, throwing three one-hitters in a season. After a single season with Xavier, Bunning was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1950. Bunning returned to Xavier from 1952-54, coaching the freshman basketball team and earning a bachelor's degree in Economics in 1953.
During his 12-year MLB career, Bunning posted an overall record of 224-184 with a lifetime ERA of 3.27. He pitched for the Tigers from 1955-63, posting a career-best single season record of 20-8 for Detroit in 1957.
Except for a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1968-69, Bunning finished out his career with the Phillies from 1964-68 and from 1969-71. His first four years with the Phillies, he posted ERAs of 2.63, 2.60, 2.41 and 2.29, respectively. Bunning posted 19 wins in a season four different times and struck out over 200 batters in a season six times, leading the league three times.
Bunning threw a perfect game for the Phillies against the New York Mets in 1964, a game in which he also drove in two runs. He also pitched a no-hitter in 1958, when he was with the Tigers, against the Boston Red Sox. He was the first player to throw no-hitters in both leagues.
A 1996 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bunning was a seven-time Major League All-Star. He was the first pitcher since Cy Young to record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both leagues. He was also instrumental in founding the players' union.
After retiring from baseball, Bunning served as an elected official on both the city and state level in Kentucky before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the fourth congressional district in Northern Kentucky in 1986, serving in the House from 1987 to 1999.
Bunning was elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky in 1998 and served two terms as the Republican junior U.S. Senator. In July 2009, he announced that he would not run for re-election in 2010.
Born in 1931, Bunning was a native of Southgate, Ky. and a 1949 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. Bunning married Mary Catherine Theis in 1952, the couple had nine children. Funeral arrangements are pending at Muehlenkamp Erschell Funeral Home in Fort Thomas, Ky.