ST. LOUIS – A big inning early, and a record-tying performance late helped Jacksonville University baseball to a series win at St. Louis Saturday.
JU (27-13) won 7-4 over SLU (25-13) at the Billiken Sports Center, clinching a ninth series win of the season and extending the season-long winning streak to five.
"We got production out of the bottom of the lineup," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "They did a really good job of competing in the box and ultimately busted it open for us today."
A big second inning set the tone for JU on the afternoon. John Cassala was hit by a pitch with one out, followed by consecutive singles from Jacob Southern and Cory Garrastazu to load the bases. Duncan Hunter plated two with a double to right and Ruben Someillan drove in another with a single to center. Chris Lehane lined out to second, but the throw back to first to double up Someillan bounced off his helmet and out of play. Hunter scored, and Someillan was granted third, but the inning ended on a strikeout.
It was not 4-0 long, as the Billikens got one back in the bottom half. Three of the first five batters in the inning singled, before a bases loaded walk scored the first SLU run. They got one more in the third, when a two-out double followed by an RBI single cut the lead to 4-2.
JU added one more in the fourth, when Garrastazu battled at the plate, seeing nine pitches before walking. Back-to-back wild pitches allowed him to advance to third, where he came home on Someillan's grounder to the right side of the infield to make it 5-2.
From there, Tyler Santana (7-1) hit a groove. Not feeling his best leading into the game, he fought himself early, but he retired nine straight Billiken hitters from the fourth to the sixth.
"I thought it was an outstanding, gutsy effort from Santana today," said Hayes. "He pitched and kept a really good team off balance and gave us a chance."
The streak ended with a solo home run in the sixth, but a strikeout ended the inning, giving Santana four K's through six innings of three run ball, in which he scattered eight hits and stranded six SLU baserunners.
JU added two insurance runs in the ninth, when Hunter led off with his second double of the game, went to third on Someillan's bunt single and scored on a throwing error on the same play. Someillan, who advanced to second on the error, was bunted to third by Lehane and scored on Angel Camacho's RBI single, extending his reach-base streak to 22 games.
The bases loaded against Palmer in the ninth, on an error, single and fielder's choice, before he struck out one and gave up an RBI single ending his outing. Chris Mauloni entered with the bases loaded and the go ahead run at the plate and struck out the next two hitters to secure his 16th save of the year, which ties the all-time career saves record.
Jacksonville looks for the sweep tomorrow at 12 p.m., with Spencer Stockton toeing the rubber for JU. Game coverage can be heard on mixlr.com/judolphins.