Conley seals Xavier's first-ever tourney win
After nailing down a save to preserve Xavier's first NCAA tournament victory in school history in a tight 9-6 win over Sam Houston State, Conley was more interested in the change in perception his program has produced among fans at the Houston Regional.
"It's always great to be the first," Conley said. "Hopefully this is the first of many to come. And maybe now, they know it's Xavier instead of Ex-avier."
The Musketeers (39-20) were introduced by an incorrect pronunciation earlier in the tournament. But their victory Saturday shows the grittiness and resolve of a team that advanced from the losers' bracket of last week's Atlantic 10 tournament to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
And their name was pronounced correctly at Saturday's game, too.
Neil Lindgren's long two-run homer in the seventh inning provided the margin of victory for the Musketeers with one out in the seventh inning. He ripped a fat 1-0 fastball from Matt Shelton deep over the left-field wall to give them the lead for good.
"Our coaches do a good job of giving us scouting reports of other teams," Lindgren said. "[Shelton] has a lot of movement with his slider. I went up there just trying to get a pitch I could drive. I was looking for a fastball and luckily, he threw one where I could hit it."
The big hit made a winner of Conley, who scattered three hits over the final 2 1/3 innings to claim the victory.
"Jordan stepped up huge for us in that situation," Xavier coach Scott Googins said. "He makes it interesting for us sometimes, but there's not another guy I'd rather have up there for us."
Conley started the game at shortstop before moving to pitcher to finish off one of the biggest victories in school history with a direct strategy of staying ahead in the count.
"I've been in that situation all year," Conley said. "They put me in there and I just wanted to do the best I can. I wanted to throw my best pitches and go from there. I've been pretty successful using that all season."
The loss ended the season for Sam Houston State (36-24), which lost two consecutive games in the tournament for the second straight season.
"I'm disappointed to end the season like this," Sam Houston State coach Mark Johnson said. "But I've got to give Xavier a lot of credit. Their shortstop came in and closed the door with that slider. It was a knee-buckler for our guys. He came at us hard."