Bonnies top Saint Louis 3-2 to force deciding game in A-10 Baseball Championship
May 27, 2006
BRONX, N.Y. - St. Bonaventure forced a final and deciding game in the 2006 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship with a 3-2 win over Saint Louis on Saturday afternoon at Houlihan Park.
Senior Matt Agostinelli pitched eight strong innings and Matt Mardeusz's steal of home in the top of the first inning proved to be the difference for the Bonnies, who are playing out of the loser's bracket and thus need to knock off Saint Louis twice.
The second-seeded Bonnies (29-20) and No. 5 Saint Louis (31-27) will square off at noon on Sunday, with the winner capturing the A-10 Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Agostinelli improved to 4-0 on the year after allowing two runs on eight hits with one strikeout. The Rochester, NY, native repeatedly worked out of jams after he allowed the Billikens two runs in the second inning.
"I was fatigued by the first inning," joked Agostinelli, who has also contributed four hits to the St. Bonaventure attack in the Championship. "I just kept them off balance with curveballs and change-ups because they were all over my fastball. My teammates really picked me up and it kept me strong out there."
St. Bonaventure scored all three runs in the top of the first off of Brock Hewitt, courtesy of two Saint Louis errors. After junior Joe Rizzo stole second, he advanced to third on an infield single by Mardeusz before scoring on an error by Hewitt, giving the Bonnies a 2-0 lead. With two outs and designated hitter Tristan Mulcahy at the plate, Mardeusz broke for home and slid just under the tag of catcher Bill Musselman, giving St. Bonaventure a 3-0 lead. It marked just the second stolen base of the year for Mardeusz.
"It's a play we put in before the start of the season in the gym. When you're practicing in Olean [New York] in January and February, you don't get outside very often so you have time to do some goofy things," said St. Bonaventure head coach Larry Sudbrook, who is looked to lead the Bonnies to their second league title in three seasons. "I just felt like we needed an adrenaline shot to get our team charged up with emotion so they wouldn't feel tired."
Saint Louis manufactured a pair of runs in the bottom of the second as it collected just one hit in the inning, a single by senior Tim Landy. However, Agostinelli began the inning by hitting second basemen Gilbert Marlowe with a pitch and his two-out wild pitch scored Landy, bringing the Billikens to within a run at 3-2. SLU had the tying run on second base from the second through the eighth innings but just could not score again against Agostinelli, who improved to 4-0 on the year.
Senior lefthander John Zinnicker pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
Catcher Brandon Salerno led St. Bonaventure with three hits while Rizzo reached base twice and added a spectacular diving catch in left.
Saint Louis starter Brock Hewitt allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits with five walks and three strikeouts. Musselman and shortstop Ziggy Moore collected two hits apiece for Saint Louis, which stranded 11 runners on base.