ST. LOUIS - An eight-run seventh inning launched the Saint Louis Billikens to a 12-6 win over Saint Joseph's this afternoon. Freshman RHP Matt Eckelman picked up the win, his fifth of the year. The Billikens are now 32-17 overall and 14-6 in the Atlantic 10.
The two teams were evenly matched throughout the game. The Hawks scored in the first to take an early lead, but an RBI single from Braxton Martinez in the bottom of the second tied the game. Saint Joseph's regained the lead in the third on a home run. The Hawks almost hit another round-tripper in the sixth, but a leaping grab from Jordan Hammerman at the wall brought the ball back. The Billikens tied the game at two with a Grant Nelson RBI single up the middle. Through six innings of play, the two teams were all knotted up at two.
In the seventh, the Hawks took a lead in the top of the frame on a bases-loaded fielder's choice. Trailing 3-2, Alec Solé led off for SLU. He took the second pitch he saw to center field for a single. He scored on a Michael Bozarth triple in the next at bat. The next two batters reached base to load the bags with no outs for Mike Vigliarolo. He took a big swing and put the ball over the wall in center field for his seventh homer of the season. The grand slam gave the Bills a 7-3 lead, their first lead of the series. The Billikens were not done scoring, plating two more runs on a Solé triple later in the inning.
Saint Joseph's scored again in the eighth, but SLU scored two in the bottom of the eighth to take a 12-4 lead to the final frame.
The Hawks threatened in the ninth with a home run and an RBI single, but Marco Mejia was able to close out the win, 12-6.
The Billikens are no strangers to big innings. It is the fifth time this season the Bills have scored at least five runs in an inning. Today's seventh inning is the second-highest scoring inning for SLU this season, behind a nine-run inning on March 6 against North Dakota.
Game three of the series is scheduled for tomorrow, May 12 at 12:00 p.m. Saint Louis will send junior RHP Clay Smith (6-2) to the hill.