The Billikens will take on the Spiders of Richmond in a three-game weekend series starting Friday, April 26. The Bills will be seeking revenge, as the Spiders ousted SLU from the A-10 tournament a year ago. The all-time series between the two schools is 7-7, with Richmond winning the last four meetings.
Richmond is led by Jacob Mayers, who is hitting .380 with a .599 slugging percentage and a .461 on-base percentage. He is in the top five of the A-10 in each category. On the hill, the 2012 A-10 Rookie of the Year, LHP Zak Sterling leads the way. Sterling has a 4-1 record with a 3.42 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 24 walks.
The Billikens completed a three-game sweep of St. Bonaventure to rise to 11-1 in the Atlantic 10. Saint Louis’ pitching was sensational in the series, as the staff combined for 24 strikeouts and only five walks with a 1.67 ERA in the three games. The Bonnies were held to a .220 average against the Billiken arms.
WALK LIKE A BILLIKEN
Entering the series, SLU had drawn 193 walks in 2013, most in the Atlantic 10 and 20th nationally. Alex Kelly is third in the A-10 with 28 walks drawn. Five Billikens have more walks than strikeouts this season.
Since head coach Darin Hendrickson took over in 2008, the Billikens have ranked in the top three of the Atlantic 10 in walks drawn in each season. They led the league with 268 walks in 2012, which ranked 19th in the NCAA.
Saint Louis has hit 23 home runs this season, most in the A-10 and 60th in the NCAA. Alex Kelly is tied for the lead in the conference with seven homers followed closely by Braxton Martinez with four (tied for fifth in A-10).
LEADING IN LONGEVITY
Senior RHP Alex Alemann is the NCAA’s active leader in career games started (56) and career innings pitched (370), while ranking third in career victories (27). His 250 career strikeouts are 13th among all Division I pitchers and his nine complete games are 17th. Senior 2B Mike Levine is eighth in games played with 215.
The Billiken bullpen has had a terrific season thus far. Seven different pitchers have made 12 or more appearances and five separate hurlers have recorded saves. On the season, the Bills have 143.2 innings in relief with 120 hits, 39 earned runs and 114 strikeouts to 68 walks. The pen has a combined 2.44 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
In his SLU career, catcher Grant Nelson is hitting .377 with 10 runs scored in home games during the month of April
SACRIFICING FOR THE TEAM
Saint Louis is 19th in the nation in sacrifice flies with 24 this season. Senior Mike Levine leads the team with five and is tied for the 40th most in the nation this season. In his career Levine has 18 sac flies, the fourth most in NCAA Division I.
Mike Levine is on an 18-game on-base streak. He had a season-best 14-game hitting streak broken on April 16 against Washington. The longest active hitting streaks for SLU are Grant Nelson and Alex Kelly with six games
Marco Mejia has accepted a larger role as a senior. He has a team-best five saves this season and is holding batters to a .169 batting average against him in 20.2 innings of work. Jon Levin is the top lefty out of the bullpen for Saint Louis, and with good reason. This season he has posted a 1.23 ERA in 18 appearances, recording 10 strikeouts and five walks. He has only had two appearances this season in which he allowed more than one hit.
Saint Louis has five freshmen hitters and three freshmen pitchers who are contributing for the Billikens this season. Braxton Martinez leads all A-10 freshmen in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. On the hill, Matt Eckelman has been one of the Bills’ top relievers posting a 3-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in 28.0 IP. All said, the Billiken freshmen are hitting .307 with a .430 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage. On the mound, they are 6-0 with a 3.16 ERA, 64 SO and 40 walks.
KING OF THE HILL
Senior RHP Alex Alemann picked up the win against Western Michigan on March 1, marking the 23rd victory of his career, a Billiken record. He surpassed Saint Louis great Dave Sever’s 22 career wins. Alemann is scattered throughout the career record book. He can be found in the all-time top ten in strikeouts, innings pitched, games started and complete games.
Senior 2B Mike Levine has been a defensive stalwart for the Bills in his career. Since joining the team in 2010, Saint Louis has lead the A-10 in double plays turned. Additionally, two of the top three single-season assist totals have come from Levine. The only player to have more assists in a single season than Levine: his double play partner, Alec Solè, who set the record last season with 197 assists.
MARTINEZ NAMED ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Braxton Martinez was named the A-10 Rookie of the Week on April 8 after leading the Bills to a series sweep of Butler. He hit .500 with a .550 on-base percentage and a .812 slugging on the week. Martinez is one of the top freshman hitters in the A-10 and leads all rookies in average, on-base and slugging.
KELLY NAMED A-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alex Kelly earned weekly honors on March 25 for his efforts the week ending March 24. Kelly opened conference play with a bang, leading SLU to a sweep of defending A-10 tournament champion Dayton. Against the Flyers, he was 5-12 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs. Additionally, Kelly had a home run and three RBIs against in-state foe Southeast Missouri State.
NELSON EARNS CONFERENCE ACCOLADE
Grant Nelson was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the week ending March 10. Nelson helped lead the Billikens to wins over San Diego and Michigan in the University of San Diego Tournament. In five games, he hit .467 with a .619 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage. Against powerhouse San Diego, Nelson went two-for-three against All-America pitcher Michael Wagner
Saint Louis was selected by the coaches of the Atlantic 10 Conference as the preseason favorites. Multiple publications also have projected the Billikens to win the A-10 this season. Additionally, the Bills are receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball national poll. College Baseball Daily ranked the Billikens no. 15 in its mid-major poll.
BILLS RETURN FROM RECORD-SETTING 2012
The Billikens return seven starters and the entire weekend rotation from a squad that won a school-record 41 wins a year ago. The team will be led at the plate by the senior trio of OF Alex Kelly, 2B Mike Levine and 3B/C Grant Nelson. Kelly was the team’s top offensive threat in 2012, leading the team in average (.326), home runs (8), slugging percentage (.487) and RBIs (41). Nelson will look to build off of his impressive 2012 season, where he hit .314 with a .429 slugging percentage and a .409 on-base percentage. Levine will contribute defensively as well as at the plate, where he had a team-best 14 doubles a year ago.
HEAD COACH DARIN HENDRICKSON
Darin Hendrickson entered his sixth season with a career record of 492-227 at NCAA four-year institutions (157-127 at Saint Louis). Entering the 2013 season, his career win percentage was .684, ranking him tenth among active NCAA Division I head coaches. Hendrickson is the reigning Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year after leading the Billikens to a school-record 41 wins and a A-10 Regular Season Co-Championship.
2B Mike Levine is 13 doubles away from most on all-time list (54, Adam Gabris)
LHP Jon Levin is seven appearances away from tying all-time mark (84, John Moriarty)
LHP Jon Levin and RHP Marco Mejia are each three saves away from third all-time (8, Chad Tayton/B.J. Rodrigue)
RHP Alex Alemann is one start away from most all-time (currently tied at 56, Ryan Bird)
RHP Alex Alemann is 36 strikeouts from most all-time (286, Ryan Bird)
SS Alec Solé is 15 assists away from 10th all-time (355, Pat Steinhoff)
OF Alex Kelly is one game away from 100.
SS Alec Solé is two games away from 100.
C Grant Nelson is three games away from 100.