CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Alyson Brand drove in two runs and Katie Kroeger went 3-for-4, and Saint Louis held off Western Michigan's late challenge to defeat the Broncos 4-3 Friday afternoon at the Fighting Illini Invitational at Eichelberger Field.
The Billikens, who topped Loyola Chicago 8-2 Friday morning, improved to 2-0 in the tournament and 10-8 on the season. SLU has won seven of its last nine. Western Michigan slipped to 8-15.
Laney Kneib (4-3) pitched around a couple of early-inning errors and held Western Michigan scoreless through four innings, while her teammates grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Lindsay Friedman led off with a single. Jessica Van Nostrand followed with a ground ball, and the shortstop's throw to force Friedman at second was errant, giving the Billikens runners at the corners with nobody out.
With one out, Brand delivered a single up the
middle that scored Friedman. Elizabeth Everingham's single to left plated Van Nostrand and advanced Brand
to third. After a walk to Olivia Roback loaded the bases, Brand scooted home on Erin Harcar's ground ball to the shortstop.
The Broncos tallied once in the fifth, but the Billikens got the run right back in the bottom of the frame. A bunt single by Kroeger and a walk to Friedman was followed by Van Nostrand's ground ball, which resulted in a force out at second. After Van Nostrand swiped second, Laura Bohning walked to load the bases, and Brand drew a free pass to score Kroeger for a 4-1 Saint Louis lead.
Kneib retired the first two hitters in the sixth, but the Broncos rallied to score twice on a walk and back-to-back doubles. Brianna Lore relieved Kneib and recorded the final out of the inning.
In the seventh, a walk to Jessica Buschjost and Kroeger's infield single gave SLU a chance to pad its lead, but the Bills failed to score. Western Michigan attempted to capitalize on the missed opportunity when a single, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a walk put Broncos at first and third with two outs. However, Lore notched a strikeout to end the threat and cement her first collegiate save.The Billikens complete round-robin play in the Fighting Illini Invitational Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against host team Illinois. SLU will play a semifinal game at either 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 12:30 p.m., preceded by the consolation game at 10 a.m.