OXFORD, Miss. - [BOX SCORE] Saint Louis University Baseball made an early bid to earn its first win in an NCAA Baseball Championship event since the 1960’s, but was unable to seal the deal. After surrendering an early lead, the Billikens plated runs in the eighth and ninth to tie it, but allowed the game winner in the bottom of the ninth as they fell 9-8 to Missouri State on Sunday.
Saint Louis (38-20) put together another hot start on Sunday as they were the road team against Missouri State. In the top of the first, the Billikens took advantage of freshman Ty Buckner’s location issues early. Buckner walked Kyle Fletcher in the leadoff spot before hitting Nick Reeser and Jake Garella to load the bases for James Morisano.
The senior backstop for the Billikens delivered on a 2-2 pitch with a double to left-center to give the team in blue a 2-0 lead.
Cole Dubet followed with a big hit of his own. The second-baseman stepped-up with a single to center field, which scored two more and Saint Louis exited the top of the first with a 4-0 lead.
Missouri State answered in the bottom half. Jack Duffy hit his third home run of the season to right field and cut the lead to 4-3.
Saint Louis plated two more in the top of the second thanks to the power bat of Alex King. After striking out in the first, King launched a two-run home run into the seats in left field and gave his team a 6-3 lead.
Billiken starter Jackson Wark ran into trouble in the bottom of the second, which led to an early pitching change. The right-handed hurler walked the first two batters of the inning which led Saint Louis Head Coach Darin Hendrickson to head to the bullpen.
Drew Reveno took the hill and mitigated the damage from the early base runners. The San Jose, Calif., native entered and allowed an RBI single, but got a foul out on a bunt, a strikeout and a pop out to maintain the lead.
One of the few mistakes Reveno made on the day came in the fourth. With two outs and two strikes to Hunter Steinmetz, the Bears leadoff man hit his fourth home run of the season down the right field line to cut the Billiken lead to 6-5.
Missouri State struggled against Reveno until the sixth inning. Third baseman Matt Brown got the free base in the leadoff spot after being hit by a pitch. Brown went on to steal second, and an infield single put runners at the corners for Landan Ruff. The left fielder singled home the first of three Bears’ runs in the inning as the team from Springfield, Mo., took an 8-6 lead.
In the top of the seventh, the Billikens looked to have something going with Fletcher. The senior left fielder bunted in the leadoff position and reached second on a throwing error, but was ruled out moments later. Home plate umpire Brian Marine called the batter out as he said he stepped on the plate on his way out of the batter’s box. This play set the tone for the inning as the Billikens were retired in order to head to the bottom of the seventh trailing by two.
Saint Louis got one back in the top of the eighth. Cole Dubet recorded the second home run of the game for the Billikens, this one to left-center, and cut the deficit to 8-7.
In the ninth, with two outs, both via the strikeout, Saint Louis made its push. A walk to Kyle Fletcher began things before back-to-back singles from Alex King and Nick Reeser tied the game at eight and the Billikens went to the ninth trying to take it to extras. The Bears, however, had other plans.
Missouri State utilized a walk and a single to lead-off the inning to get the game winner. Ryan Lefner struck-out a pair of batters in the final frame, but a single to left field from Brown gave the Bears the walk-off victory.
King and Dubet led the Billikens with a pair of hits piece while senior James Morisano’s final hit of his career was a two-RBI double.
The Billikens finish their season 39-20 as they will head to the offseason.