SAUGET, ILL. - The Saint Louis Billikens (26-11) won a hard-fought contest against the Washington (Mo.) Bears. A bases-loaded walk to senior Alex Kelly gave SLU the 5-4 win over the cross-town foe. Marco Mejia (2-2) picks up a two-pitch win, enticing a bases-loaded double play in the top of the ninth.
The Billikens were powered by the long ball in the early stages of the game. Mike Vigliarolo and Jake Henson hit solo home runs in the second and third innings, respectively to give SLU a 2-0 lead through three innings. The long ball was the first of Henson's career.
The Bears' lineup did damage in the fourth, scoring three runs on five hits in the frame.
An RBI single from Washington in the fifth gave the Bears a 4-2 lead over Saint Louis. In the first five innings, the Billiken offense only managed three hits, two of them home runs.
Kelly jump-started the Bills' attack in the sixth with a solo shot of his own. The homer was the Billikens' third of the game, which ties the most for a single game this season. Vigliarolo added an RBI single later in the inning to tie the game at four.
Both teams threatened to take the lead, but the dramatics were saved for the ninth. In the top of the inning, a one-out single followed by a ground-rule double gave the Bears runners in scoring position with one away. The Bills intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. Mejia then took the hill and threw two pitches before Washington grounded into an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Billikens sent senior Mike Levine to the plate, representing the winning run. He wasted no time and was hit by the first pitch he saw. Freshman T.J. Verdun then pinch hit for Henson. Despite going to the plate intending to sacrifice bunt, Verdun drew a walk to give SLU runners at first and second with no outs. Alec Solé delivered a sacrifice bunt to move Levine and Verdun into scoring position. The Bears then intentionally walked Michael Bozarth to bring the force out into play. Kelly strode to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth. At the time, he was one-for-one with a homerun and three walks. The big senior showed terrific discipline and drew a clutch walk to win the game for Saint Louis.
Kelly's four walks were one shy of a school record set by Scott Malchow in 1994.
Though he was a crucial element to the Billiken victory, Levine had his 14-game hit streak snapped in the contest. However, he still has a 15-game on-base streak that remains active.
The Billikens will host the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure this weekend in a three-game series. Game one is scheduled for Friday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Billiken Sports Center.