Saint Louis responded to an early 5-0 deficit by scoring 11 unanswered runs en route to a 16-11 victory against Fordham Wednesday in the opening game of the Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Championship at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J.
The fifth-seeded Billikens advance to face top-seeded Charlotte on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. (St. Louis time). The victory lifts SLU’s record to 30-27, marking the first time in program history the Billikens have achieved back-to-back 30-win seasons.
Freshman right-hander Alex Alemann, who yesterday was voted A-10 Rookie of the Year, tied the school record with his ninth victory of the season, matching Rich Hansmann (1967) and John Marcum (1965). Alemann went 6-1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits while striking out four. Senior catcher Ben Braaten led the offense with a 4-for-5, six RBI performance at the dish. His six RBIs are a career high, while his four hits matched his previous best. Jon Myers (three RBIs), Danny Brock (two RBIs) and Andrew Guerra (two RBIs) all registered multiple RBIs for the Billikens.
Jerry Mancuso posted three hits, while Brock scored four times. In addition, the Billikens stole a season-high nine bases in the contest. Fordham (21-34) jumped out to a 5-0 lead after pushing across two runs in the first and three in the second. All but one of those runs were earned, as the Rams took advantage of two Billiken defensive miscues in the first two innings. The Billikens got back into the ballgame with a rally in the top of the third. Mike Levine walked to start the inning, then Mancuso poked a one-out single to put runners at the corners. Brock singled to center to plate Levine and get the Billikens on the scoreboard, and SLU got another runner on the base paths when Myers walked to load the bases. With still only one down in the third, Mancuso scored on a wild pitch. Braaten then singled through the right side to plate two runs and pull the Bills to within one at 5-4. Alemann sat the Rams down in order in the top of the bottom of the third, and the Billiken lineup got after it again in the top of the fourth to take the lead for good. Steve Ferandez and Levine singled, and Cotter drew a walk to load the bases, chasing Fordham starter Max Krakowiak from the game. Following the pitching change, Brock drew a one-out RBI walk to tie the score. With the bases still loaded, Myers delivered a two-run double down the left-field line to make it 7-5. Braaten drove in his third run of the contest to put SLU up 8-5, and Myers later scored on a wild pitch to give SLU a 9-5 advantage. Braaten delivered a key two-run base hit in the top of the sixth to build the SLU lead to 11-5 before Fordham scored three runs in the bottom-half of the sixth to pull within three at 11-8. However, the Billikens got those runs back in the eighth. Myers drew a one-out walk, and advanced to second on a Braaten single. Both runners came around to score on an Andrew Guerra two-run double to make it 13-8. Dunn stole a base and scored on an ensuing throwing error by the Fordham catcher to make it a 14-8 ballgame. For good measure, SLU scored twice more in the top of the ninth. Cotter reached base after being hit by a pitch, and he later came around to score on a Myers sacrifice fly. Braaten recorded his sixth RBI of the game when he knocked in Brock with an RBI double for SLU’s 16th run. Relievers Andres Wiltz and Tommy Coovert pitched the final 2-2/3 innings. Wiltz pitched a scoreless 1-2/3, while Coovert closed down the game after after allowing three runs for the 16-11 final.