Billiken Baseball Flys Into Conference Play


Luke Matheny throws a pitch in the Billikens extra innings loss to Mizzou. The Bills return to conference play this weekend at UMass. Photo Courtesy of Billiken Athletics

Billiken baseball kicked off conference play last weekend with a three-game series against the Dayton Flyers at home. The series started on Friday, March 22 and spanned the weekend.

The Billikens came into the game fresh off a win over 23rd ranked Illinois.

The Bills have historically played well against Dayton, winning eight of nine league games over the past three seasons. This year saw Dayton take their game up a notch, taking the series 2-1.

The first game played close but Dayton held the lead throughout the game. SLU pitching kept the Flyers from soaring through the sky, but they did exit the runway. Two runs in the fourth and fifth innings started the Dayton lead. One more run in the seventh capped their runs at three. The Bills versus Flyers dog fight started in the bottom of the ninth as a home run from senior first baseman Shane Benes earned two runs for the Billikens, putting them right back into the game. The Bills put two more on base but were unable to pull off the comeback and crashed 2-3.

The Bills kept the flyers grounded in the second game, earning their first conference win of the season. Redshirt junior pitcher Cody Luther started the game for the Bills and only allowed two runs off seven hits in his five innings pitched.

The Bills took the lead early with one run scored in the first inning. Dayton managed to keep the Billiken beast at bay until it broke free from its chains in the fifth, unleashing two more runs and putting the Bills up 3-0. The flyers came back in the sixth with two runs of their own. One more run for Dayton at the top of the eighth leveled the score at 3-3.

With extra innings on the horizon, the Bills sealed the game away with a run in the eighth. Senior pitcher Ryan Lefner closed out the game, letting up no runs to end the game at 4-3.

The series came to a thrilling conclusion in a 12-inning game three. The Bills went up in the first with two runs and held the lead for six innings with senior pitcher Jackson Wark on the mound, who allowed only one earned run off seven hits and struck out eight Flyers.

Dayton caught the Bills with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The Bills were unable to send another runner home and the extra innings ensued. The 10th and 11th innings came up scoreless.

The 12th inning saw two runs for the Flyers off a home run. With the Bills unable to bounce back, the game ended a 2-4 loss.

The Billikens played four non-conference games in the last week, squaring off against SIUE, St. John’s and Mizzou. The four games ended in four losses.

St. John’s and Mizzou are both ranked top 50 in the NCAA, and one might have guessed that after the St. John’s game. The Billikens scored five runs over two games compared to St. John’s 22. The first game saw the Billikens manage to stay in contest with a trailing score of 2-3 in the sixth, but St. John’s took over and ended the game at 6-2. The second game did not go well for the Billikens.

St. John’s put up an early run in the first and four more in the third. The Bills struggled at 7-3 in the seventh, but the eighth inning saw St. John’s with nine more runs, finishing the game at 16-3.

The Billikens will look to improve their 1-2 conference record as they continue conference play this weekend in Massachusetts to play a three-game series against UMass starting Friday, April 9.