Baseball bests SEMO in border battle with walk-off double

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SLU traveled to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on the Purdue Boilermakers on Friday, April 28. The trip was originally intended to be for a three-game series against the Big Ten Boilermakers, but the same storm system that hit St. Louis was also present in West Lafayette, causing the final game of the series to be called off due to rain.

The first game of the series saw Purdue defeat SLU, 5-2. The loss came despite fairly strong pitching from sophomore Miller Hogan, who struck out eight in 5.2 innings pitched. He allowed six hits and three runs in those 5.2 innings, although only two runs were earned. He also had three walks in the game. Hogan took the loss in the game, which was his first loss of the season. He has now dropped to a 7-1 overall record for the season. Hogan’s eight strikeouts were the second time this season that he has recorded eight or more strikeouts in the past two weeks. Against Dayton, he had nine strikeouts.

Purdue took the lead early in the game and never looked back, with SLU’s runs coming in the top of the ninth inning with the game nearly over. SLU’s two runs came from junior shortstop Alex King, who hit a two-run home run. King was one of the few bright spots in SLU’s offense on the day—he hit his home run in the only official at-bat he registered, as he walked three times earlier in the game.

Meanwhile, junior infielder Nick Reeser went 2-for-4 in the game. Hogan and senior pitcher Brett Shimanovsky each had a pickoff in the game.

SLU also fell in the second game, in a close 4-3 loss. SLU went down twice throughout the game, but managed to battle back with home runs to tie the score each time. However, a Boilermaker walk-off single in the ninth inning ultimately sunk the Billikens.

King and redshirt senior Trent Leimkuehler both had home runs in the game— the fifth consecutive game in which the Billikens notched a round-tripper. King hit his second home run in as many days, for his fifth home run of the season. Leimkuehler’s home run was his second of the season.

Meanwhile, Reeser once again went 2-for-4 in the game. Junior catcher James Morisano also went 2-for-4. Sophomore pitcher Ryan Lefner was hit with the loss, despite not allowing an earned run. He has not allowed a run in the three consecutive games, with 6.1 innings pitched.

The final game of the series was cancelled due to rain, which meant that the Billikens returned home to take on SEMO on Tuesday, May 2.

The SEMO game turned out to be a thriller, with Leimkuehler hitting his 17th double of the season in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the hit bringing in the game-tying and game-winning runs. SLU won 6-5 behind the clutch extra-base hit. The hit was part of a 3-for-5 Leimkuehler performance.

The walk-off hit was SLU’s first walk-off since March 16 of last year against Illinois State.

SLU also got strong production from the middle of the order, with the third, fourth and fifth batters in the order, Reeser, Hanford and Garella, respectively, each recorded two hits in the game.

In terms of pitching, junior Aaron Patton earned the start, and threw four innings, allowing one run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

SLU’s relief pitching was also strong. Sophomore Sean Frontzak entered with the bases loaded with one out, and he threw 1.2 scoreless innings, combined with two strikeouts. Meanwhile, freshman Charlie Sheehan earned his first collegiate win, as he threw a scoreless ninth inning, including a strikeout looking of SEMO’s top hitter.

Next up for the Billikens will be a three-game away series against Davidson in Davidson, North Carolina, starting on Friday, May 5. The Atlantic 10 Conference Championships are set for May 24-May 27 at the Billiken Sports Center.