Billikens Head to Tobacco Road for Blue Devil Classic
Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics

The Billikens travel to Durham, N.C. to for the Duke Blue Devil Classic at Jack Coombs Field on Feb. 21-23. Saint Louis will play Akron (Feb. 21), Duke (Feb. 22) and La Salle (Feb. 23) in the three-day tournament. 

The Zips are led at the dish by Joey Havrilak, who is 3-8 with three runs scored, a double, a home run and an RBI after a double header against Winthrop last weekend. He’s posted an on-base percentage of .444 and a slugging percentage of .875 so far this season. On the hill, Akron will throw LHP John Valek against SLU. He is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA, two strikeouts and no walks.

Duke is 2-2 on the young season after going 2-1 in a three game series with Binghamton and dropping a midweek contest to UNC Greensboro in 12 innings. The Blue Devils’ offense is powered by third baseman Jordan Betts, who is hitting .471 with a .706 slugging percentage and a .550 on-base percentage. He leads Duke in all three categories. Betts also has five runs scored, two doubles, one triple and seven RBIs. RHP Andrew Istler will throw for Duke. He is 0-1 without allowing an earned run, while striking out four in 2.1 innings of work.

The Explorers and Billikens will meet up on Sunday in a rare out-of-conference match-up. La Salle is 0-3 entering the weekend after a weekend sweep to Campbell. Cameron Johnson powers the Explorer lineup, hitting .357 with a run scored and an RBI. Right-handed Shane Hollman will get the ball against the Billikens. He has an 0-1 record, with a 9.84 ERA, five strikeouts and one walk.

Despite being one of the fastest Billikens in history, last week’s triple was the first of Danny Brennan’s career.

Junior RHP Nick Bates has been named the first Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week for the 2014 season, the league office announced today. It is the first weekly honor of his career. Bates was a standout in the Billikens 2-1 victory over No. 21 Alabama in the 2014 season opener. After a rain delay forced both starting pitchers out of the game in the fourth inning, Bates entered and threw 4.2 shutout innings against the SEC power, earning the win. He recorded two strikeouts and two walks while allowing only three hits. Bates held the Crimson Tide to a .188 batting average.

In 2014, Saint Louis has drawn nine walks and has three hit batters. SLU had 253 walks in 2013, most in the Atlantic 10 and 40th nationally. 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.

This season, Saint Louis catcher/designated hitter Colton Frabasilio is playing away from his twin brother, Jordan Frabasilio (infielder at Pitt) for the first time in his career. The duo had played together throughout high school and junior college.

Saint Louis hit 43 home runs in 2013, the most in the A-10 and 28th in the NCAA. Mike Vigliarolo leads all returners with eight round-trippers and Braxton Martinez had seven long balls in 2013. Vigliarolo has the only homer for SLU so far this season.

The Billiken bullpen had a terrific 2013. Five different pitchers made 16 or more appearances and five hurlers have recorded at least one save. In 2013, the Bills had 203.1 innings in relief with 182 hits, 65 earned runs and 174 strikeouts to 92 walks. The pen combined for a 2.88 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

The Billikens’ recent success is due largely in part to great pitching. Only five teams in SLU history have finished the season with a sub-4.00 ERA. Saint Louis has achieved the feat in each of the past three seasons.

With a 2-0 win over Richmond on April 28, 2013, SLU sealed its 30th win of the season. It is the sixth time in school history a Billiken team has reached the 30-win plateau. Four of these seasons have come under head coach Darin Hendrickson. After the 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, the Bills won 41 games, tying the school record set in 2012. Hendrickson has set the wins record three times in his six seasons.

Saint Louis had six Billikens named to the 2013 All-Conference team, two to the All-Rookie team, one to the All-Academic team and the co-Player of the Year. Mike Vigliarolo was named the co-Player of the year, the first time a Billiken has won the honor in the A-10 and is believed to be the first such honor in school history. He was joined on the first team by Grant Nelson, Alec Solé and Alex Kelly. Clay Smith and Mike Levine were named to the second team. Freshmen Braxton Martinez and Matt Eckelman were All-Rookie selections.

Darin Hendrickson enters his seventh season with a career record of 533-248 at NCAA four-year institutions (198-148 at Saint Louis). Entering the 2014 season, his career win percentage is .682, ranking him eighth among active NCAA Division I head coaches. Hendrickson is second all-time at SLU with 198 wins, trailing only Bob Hughes (361 career wins).