Baseball continues to struggle, extends losing streak to eight

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Baseball continues to struggle, extends losing streak to eight

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The Billikens made the trek across the river this past weekend to take on the University of Illinois on April 15-17.  SLU fell to 16-22 on the season after losing the trio of games.

The first game started promising for the Bills, as they led the Illini until the eighth inning. But Illinois scored three runs to steal the lead and the victory, 6-4.

SLU struck gold in the second inning with three runs.  Sophomore catcher James Morisano, sophomore outfielder Kyle Fletcher and freshman infielder Cole Dubet all hit singles to rack up the runs for SLU.  Morisano stayed hot in the third inning as well, hitting a home run to start off the inning and give his team a 4-0 lead.

Illinois finally got on the board in the fifth inning.  They hit a two-run home run with one out in the inning, closing the gap, 4-2, still in favor of the Billikens.

Despite some pitching changes in the seventh inning, the Illini still managed to sneak another run onto the board to fall behind by just one run.  SLU could not muster up any more offense in the top of the eighth inning, leaving it to their defense to finish the game.  In the bottom of the eighth, a single and two walks was enough to start a three-run streak for the Illini and give them the lead going into the final inning.  SLU could not find any success from the plate in the ninth inning, and the team dropped the first game of the series, 6-4.

Morisano hit his sixth home run of the season.  He joins three other Billikens who have four or more home runs on the year.  Dubet and Fletcher each went 1 for 4 at the plate.  Junior right-handed pitcher Nick Vichio took his second loss of his three-season career, tainting his near-perfect pitching record.

SLU struggled to find a method of attack in the second game, losing the game 3-1 and leaving them at 0-2 in the weekend series.

Illinois crossed home plate first in the second inning with three singles and a walk to bring a runner home.  They struck again in the fourth inning with a home run to take a 2-0 lead.  SLU finally found a way into the game off the bat of junior first baseman Devin Mahoney.  He singled to first base to start off the inning.  Fletcher followed with a double, and Dubet brought sophomore infielder Michael Cusenza home off a RBI to second base.

However, the one quality inning stood alone, and SLU failed to put together any more successful offensive opportunities.  Illinois notched a final run under their belt and took the win, 3-1.  Mahoney was 2-for-4 in the game, and freshman right-handed pitcher Miller Hogan was hit with the loss.

Illinois swept the series with a 6-2 victory over the Billikens on April 17.  SLU’s pair of runs later in the game was not enough to propel a solid string of offense.

The Illini earned the first two runs of the game in the third inning off two singles and a double.  SLU answered right away at the top of the fourth inning with a double off the bat of senior infielder Josh Bunselmeyer.  Morisano and senior infielder Braxton Martinez both grounded out, but it was enough to get Bunselmeyer across the plate and on the board to trail, 2-1.

Illinois widened the gap again in the sixth inning, scoring two runs.  The Illini connected on three at-bats and capitalized on the two scoring opportunities.

SLU kept up in the seventh with a run from sophomore outfielder Parker Sniatynski, but a solid inning from Illinois gave them two more runs and sealed the win.  SLU collected three more hits, but they were strung together unsuccessfully and left them empty handed with a 6-2 loss and a drop to 16-21 on the year.

Mahoney had an impressive performance from the mound, striking out a career high of seven batters, showing promise for the Billiken defense.  Bunselmeyer and Sniatynski went 2 for 4 and 2 for 3, respectively.

SLU returned home for a game against Missouri-rival SEMO on April 19 at Billiken Sports Center.  They dropped the game, 10-3, making this their fourth loss at home this season.

The Billikens were first to cross home plate in the first inning with a double from Dubet, followed by a bunt from Sniatynski and a sacrifice fly from Buselmeyer to bring Dubet home.  SEMO tied the game up in the following inning, 1-1.

SEMO took the advantage by the top of the fifth, 4-1.  SLU answered in the fifth and sixth innings with a run in each to make it 4-3, but this is the closest they would get to a possible lead.  SEMO shut down the Billikens with six runs in the last two innings, five of which earned in the ninth inning.

Dubet went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Martinez also went 2 for 4 with an RBI double, making him the seventh all-time at SLU for career doubles.  Junior left-handed pitcher Brett Shimanovsky pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.19

SLU dropped to 16-22 this season.  Despite the loss, the men still sit at the top of the Atlantic 10 standings with a 7-2 record.  They are at home again this weekend to host the third-ranked Saint Joseph’s on April 22-24.