Saint Louis Baseball Loses To Mizzou

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis University baseball team jumped out to an impressive start in the top half of the first inning on Wednesday night against Missouri at Busch Stadium.

The Billikens' bats were hot and, after scoring three runs with two outs off of Mizzou ace righthander Kyle Gibson, it looked like they might be ready for a breakout performance.

But that wasn't the case. Saint Louis surrendered four runs in the bottom of the first and then seven in the second inning and lost 19-6 in the first Division I baseball game at Busch Stadium.

"We thought it was going to be another Ole Miss game," SLU coach Darin Hendrickson said, referring to the Billikens' 15-11 win at Mississippi on March 24. "That was a big thing for us to get those runs off Kyle Gibson. He's going to be a first round pick this year and is certainly a guy who has warranted a lot of respect and earned every penny. The problem is we turned around and gave them four in the bottom of the first."

Saint Louis, which lost for the second straight game, fell to 14-13 on the season. The Billikens had 12 hits, including three from freshman third baseman Zach Miller and two from shortstop Ryan Bennett, but also had four errors and seven Billikens pitchers combined to walk 11 and hit four batters.

"It's just the little stuff that you've been talking about in baseball for 100 years," Hendrickson said. "It's still gonna bite you no matter what league you are playing in, where you're at, where you're playing, whatever."

Missouri, which was led by shortstop Michael Liberto's four hits, improved to 14-14 on the season. Righthander Tyler Clarke (3-0), one of 10 pitchers used by the Tigers, picked up the victory after tossing a scoreless second inning.

"I wasn't overly wowed by either team tonight," Hendrickson said. "I thought it was a typical mid-week game. They took advantage of everything we gave them. We gave them double-digit walks and four hit batsmen I think it was. With young pitching, that's going to happen. When we have a lot of young guys out there like we ran out there tonight, we have to do that because we have to save our guys for the weekend series."

Saint Louis scored three runs with two outs in the first off Gibson, who is projected as a first-round draft pick.

Miller had an RBI single to center field. After the Billikens loaded the bases, freshman designated hitter Jerry Mancuso followed with a two-run single to right center to make it 3-0.

But Missouri rallied for four runs in the bottom of the first off SLU starter Zach Outman.

Greg Folgia had an RBI double to right field. Aaron Senne followed with RBI single to left center. Then, following a walk, Steve Gray knocked home two runs with an RBI double to center.

Missouri then scored seven runs in the second inning to take an 11-3 lead.

Folgia brought home two runs when he dropped a single into shallow right. Jonah Schmidt hit a two-run single to right field. Kyle Mach added an RBI sacrifice fly to left field.

SLU got two runs back in the fourth inning on a Miller double to deep left center to cut the deficit to 11-5.

Missouri added a run in the fourth, then two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh. Liberto had RBI singles in each inning.

Saint Louis got a run back in the eighth on Miller's two-out RBI single to left to make it 16-6.

Mizzou tacked on three more runs in the eighth, including a two-run double by Ryan Gebhart, to push the Tigers' lead to 19-6.

The Billikens will now try to regroup in time for a three-game Atlantic 10 Conference series against Richmond this weekend at home. SLU is 2-3 in league play, with two wins over Duquesne and three losses at Xavier.

"We've faced good pitching, we've played good teams and we've played them well," Hendrickson said. "Our hitters have come out of the gate good all year. But then you look at the defensive side, it's impossible for us to get three outs anymore. In the past 10 games, we've really struggled off the mound and defensively we've struggled, too.

"We're holding our heads up now. We're so darn young with 19 new guys, you kind of knew this was going somewhere in this swoon is what I call it. But it was coming somewhere during the season. This is when you're a coach you have to hold the team together and do the best to keep that Atlantic 10 race alive because it's wide open."

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