CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Saint Louis (41-19) captured its third Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title with a 7-4 win over Charlotte in the winner-take-all finale Saturday at Charlotte's Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The win also gave SLU it's 41st victory of the season, matching the school record.
The Billikens, who entered the Championship as the No. 1 seed, rallied to win five games in a row after dropping their A-10 tournament opener last Thursday. In winning the A-10 tournament title, SLU receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Baseball Championship, which begins Friday, May 31. The Billikens will learn their opponent and regional site during the nationally televised selection show on ESPNU on Memorial Day at 11 a.m. (CT).
SLU previously won A-10 titles in 2006 and 2010. They were sent to the Fullerton Regiona in 2006 and the Louisville Regional in 2010.
The Billikens took an early lead in the third inning. Senior Grant Nelson hit a single to right field and fleet-footed freshman Michael Bozarth managed to score from first. Senior Alex Kelly hit a towering home run down the left field line, scoring two. Through the first three, Saint Louis had a 3-0 lead.
Bozarth tacked on a solo shot in the fifth to bring the tally to 4-0 Saint Louis. In the 54-game regular season, he did not have any home runs. In the six games of the A-10 tournament, Bozarth has three round-trippers. No other hitter in the seven-team field had more than one.
In the sixth, Steve Fernandez added an HR of his own, a solo shot to left center. It was the seventh Billiken HR of the tournament, tying the Atlantic 10 record for most homeruns in a single tournament. In the bottom of the frame, SLU ran into some trouble defensively. Three errors in the inning allowed Charlotte to score four unearned runs. With the tying run at second, senior Jon Levin threw a three-pitch strikeout to halt the Charlotte rally.
Saint Louis padded their lead with a two-run eighth. Fernandez had an RBI double to left field and Alec Solé ripped an RBI single to center. Entering the final inning, SLU had a 7-4 lead over Charlotte.
In the ninth, Marco Mejia got a flyout and two strikeouts to seal the win for SLU.