ST. LOUIS - A half hour rain delay after the third inning washed off the rust for the Billiken baseball squad and propelled it to a 2-1 victory over 21st-ranked Alabama in the first game of the 2014 season. Junior Nick Bates picks up the win after entering the contest in the fourth inning. Sophomore Matt Eckelman gets the save.
"This is a great win to start the season," Saint Louis head coach Darin Hendrickson said. "This was a total team effort considering this is literally the first time we have been able to play outside this season. It is a huge win for SLU baseball. Alabama is a great team in a great conference and nationally ranked. I could not be more proud of this team. "
The win is Saint Louis' first win over a ranked foe since defeating No. 29 Missouri State on Apr. 17, 2012.
The Billikens and Crimson Tide held each other scoreless through the first two innings. In the bottom of the third, it began to rain and Bama scored the first run of the game on an RBI double down the right field line. Senior Clay Smith was able to escape the third without any further damage. However, the game was forced into a one hour and 41 minute rain delay, pushing both team's starting pitchers out of the game.
After the rain delay, in the fourth inning, reigning Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year Mike Vigliarolo ripped a two-out single through the left side of the infield. He was driven in on a triple down the right field line from newcomer Danny Murphy. After four innings, the score was knotted up a 1-1.
Two runs was enough for Bates, who entered in the fourth. He threw 4.2 innings with three hits allowed, two strikeouts and two walks. However, at the end of his day, he ran into some trouble.
With Alabama runners at first and second and one away in the eighth, the Crimson Tide hit a single through the left side of the infield. The runner at second got a great jump and rounded third to score. Left fielder Michael Bozarth, who was second in the NCAA with 12 outfield assists a season ago, made the perfect throw to nail the runner at the dish and preserve the lead. Eckelman then entered the game to strike out the next batter and head to the ninth with a 2-1 lead.
Eckelman set the Crimson Tide down in order in the ninth to give Saint Louis its first win of the season.
Murphy and fellow transfer Colton Frabasilio paced the Bills on offense. Murphy was 2-3 with a double, a triple and an RBI. Frabasilio also was 2-3.
The Billikens and Tide meet again tomorrow, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Junior James Norwood gets the ball for SLU.