Baseball starts undefeated at home, 7-10 on the season

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Baseball starts undefeated at home, 7-10 on the season

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The SLU baseball team is well into the non-conference season, currently sitting at 7-10 after a their most recent game against Illinois State at Billiken Sports Center.

The Billikens began their season in Georgia to compete in the Perfect Game Spring Swing, Feb. 26-28.  They could not find an offensive spark and dropped the four games they played against Omaha, Arkansas State and Morehead State.

Sophomore catcher James Morisano gave the Billikens their first home run of the season in the first game against Arkansas State, which they lost 5-4.  Senior infielder Braxton Martinez tallied a double and a run.  Senior left-handed pitcher Josh Moore started the game and delivered ten strikeouts, his career best.  They lost the second game 9-2.

SLU faced Morehead State for the last game of the weekend.  Freshman right-handed pitcher Miller Hogan threw six strikeouts, the best so far in his career.  Martinez went 3-4 in the contest with a double and an RBI. They dropped the game 4-1.

The men’s first win came on their new home turf against Rockhurst on March 2 in a low-scoring battle that lasted 12 innings.  SLU came out on top, 2-1.  Rockhurst got on the board first in the top of the first.  SLU finally responded in the fourth inning with a hit from sophomore outfielder Parker Sniatynski to bring reshirt junior outfielder Trent Leimkuehler home and tie up the game.  They were in a deadlock until Dubet connected down the third-base line to allow sophomore shortstop Alex King to collect the final run in bottom of the 12th inning.

The Billikens took the momentum from the Rockhurst game into the Chicago State matchup on March 4-8 at Billiken Sports Center.  SLU only allowed three runs across all three games.  Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Eckelman recorded his first win of the season, striking out nine batters in the seven innings he pitched.  Leimkuehler had another impressive game on the offensive side with two doubles and earned two runs.  King pushed his team-leading hit streak to five games.  They took the first game 8-2.

Moore led the way from the mound in the second game, giving SLU the 7-1 victory.  He pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only four hits.  Sniatynski dominated offensively for the Billikens, going 2-3 with a double and a run.

The final game proved just as successful for SLU.  Hogan performed under pressure on the mound, delivering eight shutout innings and allowing only three hits.  Sniatyski excelled at the plate yet again with three runs and an RBI.

SLU stayed at home for another game against Eastern Illinois on March 8.  The 2-0 win took the efforts of five pitchers.  Freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Lefner picked up the win, with help from freshman right-handed pitcher Sean Frontzak, redshirt senior and  right-handed pitcher Nick Bates, junior left-handed pitcher Brett Shimanovsky and junior right-handed pitcher Nick Vichio.  Leimkuehler earned both runs for the Bills, courtesy of a double from Martinez and a single from senior infielder Josh Bunselmeyer.

The Bills took to the road again, this time to Lawrence, Kansas to participate in the Millard Management Classic on March 11-13.  They faced Purdue first, eking out a 3-2 win, scoring all their runs in the fourth inning.

Eckelman dominated again from the mound with 11 strikeouts, allowing only one hit and sinking 73 strikes.  He blew past his previous record of seven strikeouts in 2013.  King extended his hitting streak to nine games.  Senior outfielder Michael Bozarth has now stolen seven bases this year, the most on the team.

SLU’s six-game winning streak came to a close as they faced host Kansas and lost the matchup, 5-3.  Sniatynski, Bunselmeyer and King brought in runs for the Bills, but it was not enough to push past the Jayhawks.  They could not find a way to rally for the last match of the weekend, and lost to North Dakota, 7-2.

The Billikens returned home to play Illinois State on March 16.  After a grueling 14 innings of play, the Billikens finally found a path to the plate.  Sophomore Kyle Fletcher snuck his way home off a wild pitch from Illinois State to clinch the 5-4 victory for SLU.

SLU faces Butler March 18-20 at Billiken Sports Center at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.