CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Saint Louis baseball turned in an offensive explosion to defeat the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks 8-4. The Billikens are now 5-2 on the year.Saint Louis raked 15 hits in the contest. Alex Kelly paced the offense, going three-four-four with a home run and two RBIs.
Brett Vanover took the hill for Saint Louis, and threw a gem. He went four innings with six strikeouts and only one walk. He picks up his first win of the year and in his first start since 2011.
The Redhawks jumped out to an early lead, plating two runs in the first on an unfortunate play for Mike Levine. Catcher C.J. Rose caught the SEMO runner stealing second, but the throw hit Levine's glove and the runner's helmet simultaneously, resulting in the first error of the year for Levine and a run for SEMO. The Redhawks later scored their second run on an RBI single through the left side.
The Billikens bounced back in the second. Senior Grant Nelson started things off with a leadoff single. He advanced to second on a Mike Vigliarolo single. Next, Jordan Hammerman hit a grounder to second, but the shortshop threw the ball away trying to turn two, allowing Nelson to score. Later in the frame, Levine blasted a triple to left center, scoring Vigliarolo and tying the game at two. Saint Louis was not done scoring, with Alec Solé drawing a walk in the next at bat. Michael Bozarth followed that up with a two-run double. Bozarth was driven in on an RBI single by Kelly to bring the tally to 5-2 through two innings.
Neither team was able to score again until the sixth inning, when the Billikens scored two runs. Rose was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Levine singled to second base in the next at bat, but the second baseman threw the ball away, advancing the runners to second and third. They scored on a double from Danny Brennan. Through six innings, the Billikens led 7-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Redhawks threatened to tie the game. After retiring the first two batters, freshman Joe Powell ran into some trouble. The next five SEMO batters reached base, and two runs scored. With the bases loaded and two outs, senior LHP Jon Levin came in to stop the Redhawk rally. With four pitches, he coaxed a grounder to short, keeping the SLU lead to 7-4.
In the eighth, Kelly blasted the first pitch he saw for a home run to left field. It was his second of the season and padded the lead to 8-4.
The Billikens will head to Port Charlotte, Fla. for their next contest. They have a Friday meeting against Western Michigan, a Saturday double-header against Michigan and a Sunday matchup against Maine.