Bills Topple San Diego, 6-3
ST. LOUIS - The Saint Louis baseball team earned a huge win over a tough opponent in a 6-3 victory over the University of San Diego. The Billikens are now 9-4 on the year. Alex Alemann (3-0) gets the win after throwing seven innings with five strikeouts. Marco Mejia gets his second save of the season after hurling a scoreless ninth.
The Toreros of San Diego are a perennial NCAA power in baseball. Two members of the USD team were selected as All-Americans last season: today's starting pitcher, RHP Michael Wagner and starting third basemen Kris Bryant. The Toreros earned a trip to the NCAA Regional in 2012, the seventh such visit in the program's history. This season, multiple outlets ranked the Toreros in the top 25 in the national polls. On March 5, USD defeated no. 10 Cal State-Fullerton.
San Diego was on the board early, scoring on an RBI single. The Billikens responded with a double play in the next at bat to escape further damage.
The Toreros added another run in the third on a groundout to shortstop. Through three innings, USD held a 2-0 edge on Saint Louis.
The Bills started to whittle away at the lead in the fifth. Steve Fernandez led off with a walk and advanced to second on a Danny Brennan grounder to the pitcher. Alec Solè drove Fernandez in on a single to center.
In the sixth, the Toreros made a pitching change and the Billikens took advantage of the bullpen. Wagner went five strong innings for USD, striking out seven with only two walks. His replacement failed to record an out. Alex Kelly led off with a walk. Braxton Martinez singled to left in the next at bat to put runners at first and third for cleanup hitter Grant Nelson. Nelson walked to load the bases with no outs. Mike Vigliarolo laced a single up the middle, scoring Kelly and tying the game at two. This forced USD to make another change. The new pitcher managed to get a double play, but not before Martinez crossed the plate for the Billikens third run of the game. Nelson scored on a balk to bring the score to 4-2 in favor of SLU through six innings of play.
In the eighth, the Billikens got insurance runs. Nelson hit a one-out single to right. Vigliarolo followed with a triple to score Nelson. It was the second triple of the season for Vigliarolo, who leads the team in the category. He was later driven in on a Brennan sacrifice bunt. San Diego's Bryant retaliated in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff home run, but James Norwood held the Toreros to the lone run in the frame and maintained a 6-3 lead through eight.
The Billikens ran into some trouble in the ninth. The first three USD hitters all reached to load the bases for Bryant, who homered in the previous inning. Mejia entered the game and struck Bryant out. Then, with the bases still loaded and one out, Mejia earned the grounder for a 4-3 double play and solidified the 6-3 win for SLU.
Saint Louis will return to action for two games tomorrow. The Bills take on Michigan for the third time this season at 1:00 p.m. CT. So far this season, each team has won a game, with tomorrow's contest breaking the tie. Following the meeting with the Wolverines, SLU will play San Diego again.