A well-pitched game ended on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the ninth to get Saint Louis an Atlantic 10 Conference victory Friday and even the series with Charlotte 2-1 at the Billikens Sports Center. The win pulled Saint Louis to within a game of the first-place 49ers, who clinched a share of the title yesterday in game one. The 49ers saw their 10-game win streak (nine in a row in conference) snapped and dropped them to 34-20 on the season, 17-6 in conference. Saint Louis moved to 35-18 overall, 16-7 in the A-10.
Tomorrow’s finale will determine the top seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. The team that captures the series will be the top seed. Rhode Island can also share the title with a win and a Saint Louis victory, but the Rams would be seeded third due to tiebreakers.
Charlotte scored first as it did on Thursday night when junior Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) was hit by a pitch, advanced on a groundout and scored on an RBI single from freshman catcher Nick Daddio (Huntersville, N.C. / Hough HS) for the lead.
Saint Louis responded quickly with an unearned run in the bottom half. First baseman Mike Vigliarolo singled and advanced to second on a throwing error, scoring with an RBI single from the next batter, catcher Grant Nelson.
SLU starter Clay Smith did not allow a hit the rest of the game, holding Charlotte to just the one Daddio single in the game.
Charlotte starter John Hamilton was charged the unearned run in the second, but did not allow an earned run in seven innings of work on the afternoon.
In the ninth, Saint Louis got a leadoff single from center fielder Danny Brennan, followed by a hit batter and a an infield bunt single from shortstop Alec Sole to load the bases. Michael Bozarth was hit by an 0-2 pitch with no one out to end the game.
Charlotte junior reliever Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Hopewell HS / Pitt CC) took his first loss of the season, allowing the game-winning run on two hits. He lasted two-thirds of an inning.
Smith’s complete game was his third of the season and took 112 pitches. He struck out five and walked two with the one earned run.
Hamilton got a no-decision, scattering 10 hits. He struck out six and did not allow a walk in the contest on 100 pitches.
The series and the regular season conclude tomorrow with a 3 p.m. Eastern start.
NOTES: The game was the third of the season for Hamilton when not allowing an earned run and pitching at least seven innings, but the first time he did not get the win… The one hit is a season low for the 49ers… Charlotte finishes 7-3 on Saturdays in the A-10 (with two Saturday double headers)… The loss was only the second for Charlotte in 34 games (32-2) when leading or tied after the eighth inning this season… Charlotte is now 10-7 in one-run games this season… The 49ers are 5-16 when scoring three or fewer runs.