ST. LOUIS - Three runs in the first inning doomed the Billikens to their second-consecutive loss at the hands of Saint Joseph's. Saint Louis is now 21-9 overall, and 5-3 in conference play. The Hawks move to 11-20 overall and 3-2 in the A-10.
Saint Joseph's scored early, with three quick runs in the top of the first inning. They tacked on an additional run in the fifth and sixth to bring the score to 5-0 through six innings.
In the Saint Louis seventh, junior Grant Nelson ripped a triple down the right field line. Freshman Mike Vigliarolo drove him in with a single through the left side, breaking up the shutout. Senior Jerry Mancuso followed up with a single of his own, moving Vigliarolo to second. Freshman Jon Corbitt scored Vigliarolo with a single, the fourth consecutive hit of the frame, to bring the score up to 5-2 entering the eighth.
The game stayed at 5-2 until the Billikens came to the dish in the bottom of the ninth. The Hawks brought in their closer to shut the door. Nelson singled to center field in the first at bat for his third hit of the contest. Vigliarolo struck out and Mancuso grounded out to second, to bring the Bills to two outs with a runner on second and a three-run deficit. Senior Connor Gandossy showed his veteran leadership with a clutch single down the right field line, scoring Nelson. Junior C.J. Rose drew a walk in the next at bat, putting the tying run at first.
With runners at first and second and two outs, Junior Mike Levine strode to the plate, representing the winning run. He put a charge into the second pitch he saw, sending the ball deep into left field. SJU left fielder Ryan Pater retreated on the ball and put his back to the wall. He made the catch just short of the wall.
Nelson powered the Billiken offense today. He was 3-for-4 wit a triple and two runs scored. Sophomore Clay Smith struggled in the first inning, allowing three runs on three hits, but was strong the rest of the game. He finished with 4.2 innings pitched, eight hits, four earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts. Smith is now 3-2 on the year.
The two teams will meet for the final time tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. at the Billiken Sports Center. Sophomore southpaw Damian Rivera will get the start for SLU.