April 9, 2006
NORRISTOWN, PA - A memorable pitchers duel highlighted an exciting afternoon of baseball as Saint Joseph's and Saint Louis split an Atlantic 10 doubleheader. The Hawks took the opener in 12 innings, 2-1, while the Billikens claimed a 6-3 win in the second game. SJU's Jeff Williams took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in the opener, but didn't receive a decision.
The first game of the day was a tense pitcher's duel between Williams and Saint Louis ace Ryan Bird. Both pitchers hurled nine scoreless innings, but neither received a decision. Williams was impressive taking a no-hitter into the ninth, while Bird was equally brilliant scattering five hits and strikingout 15.
Thoughts of a no-hitter built slowly, as SLU had numerous baserunners thanks to six walks through the first nine innings and a couple of Hawk errors. The Billikens, meanwhile threatened loading the bases in the sixth, but Williams was able to wiggle out of a bases loaded jam.
Saint Louis finally snapped the no-no with a lead-off single back up the middle by Gil Marlowe in the ninth. Williams, however retired the next three batters easily before departing after nine.
The Hawks meanwhile advanced just two runners to second base against Bird.
Things got interesting in the tenth inning as each team plated a run. SJU reliever Mark Imbo struckout the first batter he faced, but then surrendered a single and a double before loading the bases with an intentional walk. He induced another strikeout and appeared poised to get out of the frame unscathed, but a passed ball by Greg Mason allowed Jon Guyre to scoot home with the game's first run. Another walk then reloaded the bases, but a fielder's choice ended the inning.
Trailing by one, SJU answered back quickly. Mike Gentile led off the bottom of the tenth with a double off SLU reliever B.J. Rodrigue. He then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Blahusch and scored on a groundball by Tim Smith to tie the game.
Imbo pitched a scoreless eleventh and had a runner reach third in the top of the twelfth, but SJU got out of the inning with out suffering any damage.
The Billikens turned the ball over to Kurt Struckhoff, their third pitcher of the game in the bottom of the twelfth, and things went bad quickly. Jeremy Jakubowski, who entered the game as a defensive replacement earlier, doubled to start things off and moved to third on Jereme Scott's sacrifice bunt. Gentile was then intentionally walked to try to set up a couble play, but pinch hitter Dustin Onulak proceeded to walk to load the bases. The game-winner came home after Smith was hit by a pitch to force home the final run for a 2-1 SJU victory.
Imbo (3-1) picked up the win with three innings of relief. he struckout three and walked three while allowing one run on a couple of hits. Struckhoff (1-1) suffered the loss.
In the nightcap, Saint Louis got up quickly on Hawks' starter Jason Hessler and Brock Hewitt pitched well enough to earn the complete game victory in a seven inning game. Jakubowski went 3-3 with a couple of doubles in the defeat.
The Billikens took the early lead when an error opened the door for a couple of unearned runs in the top of the second inning. They then made it 3-0 in the third on a double by Marlowe and RBI single by Bill Mussleman.
A Jakubowski double to lead off the bottom of the third helped SJU cut into the lead. He scored on a RBI single by Blahusch.
SLU took control of the game scoring three runs in the top of teh fourth inning to go on top 6-2. A two-run single by Marlowe and a double by Musselman were the key blows.
It momentarily appeared that SJU had tightened the game in the bottom of the inning when Gentile hit a titanic blast out of the park down the rightfield line. The ball appeared to land on the fair side of the foul pole, but the umpire down the line called the shot foul. Gentile then hit into a double play to end the threat.
The Hawks finally appeared to be breaking back against Hewitt in the bottom of the seventh, but after Matt Godusky doubled to lead off the frame when the centerfielder lost the ball in the sun, he was tagged out after losing track of the ball. It was costly as Gentile followed with a double. A ground out moved him along. SJU then got an RBI single by Mike Gers and an RBI double to trim the lead in half, but Scott flew to right to end the game.
Hewitt (2-3) earned the win. He allowed three runs on nine hits and struckout four without a walk. Hessler (2-6) gave up six runs (four earned) in six innings to suffer the loss.
SJU returns to action next weekend with a three-game series against Charlotte on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.