SLU baseball fell to Michigan before defeating Santa Clara and Creighton this past weekend at the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament. Along with a win over nationally ranked Oklahoma State, the games brought SLU to a very strong 7-1 record, the best start Billikens baseball has had since 1992.
SLU traveled to Santa Clara to take part in the tournament, and their first match came against Michigan. SLU’s only run came from a home run, courtesy of junior catcher James Morisano. Sophomore pitcher Jackson Wark was given the loss, and dropped to 1-1 on the season.
Junior infielder Carter Hanford also had a strong game, going 2-for-4 with a double, his fourth double of the season. Meanwhile, junior shortstop Alex King was 1-for-2 with a walk. Senior Brett Shimanovsky made his 69th appearance for the Billikens, coming into the game in relief. He recorded two strikeouts in one inning pitched. Freshman pitcher Charlie Sheehan made the first appearance of his career, throwing two scoreless innings while allowing only one hit and recording one strikeout.
SLU then held off a ninth-inning outburst from Santa Clara, the host school, to win 5-3. SLU’s junior leadoff hitter and outfielder Aaron Case was 1-for-2 with a triple and three four-pitch walks in the contest. Meanwhile, senior designated hitter Devin Mahoney was 1-for-5, with his only hit an extra-base double. Sophomore infielder Cole Dubet was also 1-for-5 with a double and two RBI’s.
As a team, the Billikens drew 10 walks. SLU’s pitching was strong, with sophomore Miller Hogan throwing six scoreless innings and 17 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced. Sophomore Ryan Lefner retired three batters in the eighth inning with runners on the corner and no outs to preserve SLU’s lead, and junior Aaron Patton earned a one-out save by striking out the tying run at the plate.
SLU then continued their strong start to the season with a game in Stillwater, Okla., taking on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys had earlier been ranked No. 14 nationally by Perfect Game. However, SLU won a close game 10-7 to move to a 7-1 overall record.
Patton earned his second win of the season, moving to 2-0, while Lefner earned the save, his second of the season.
On the offensive side of the plate, Morisano had an extra-base double, as did Hanford, Mahoney and King. King also had a triple in the game.
Case, who has provided a standout bat so far this season, continued his hot streak with a triple and a sacrifice fly.
SLU had previously been earning some NCAA Top 25 votes, and will hope that their strong performances, punctuated by their big win over Oklahoma State, will help them sneak into the Top 25.
SLU has had some of its players win individual honors, as well. Hogan was named Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week, his first weekly honor of the season and the second week in a row that a Billiken has won a conference weekly award in baseball.
Hogan won the honor on the strength of his performance against Santa Clara, against whom he threw six scoreless innings and allowed only five hits and three walks. He still has not let in an earned run this season, and batters have hit only .200 against him.
Hogan and the Billikens will next take on Farleigh Dickinson on Friday, March 3.