Not many baseball weekends have gone as planned for St. Louis University this season, but the recent trip to New York to play Fordham in a three-game series was a particular challenge for the Billikens. And rewarding in the end.
SLU (15-12) won two of three games in about 24 hours to open the Atlantic 10 game after some unexpected travel disruptions caused the Billikens to travel on a red-eye flight on series opener day.
Baseball details looked promising, as SLU’s three starting pitchers failed to allow for a deserved run throughout the series. Instead of playing on Sunday, the team took a tour that included a stop at the site of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
The rigors of the weekend made coach Darin Hendrickson even happier to be home this weekend for a series against Richmond that begins on Saturday.
“I have a lot of admiration for our boys on a new level,” Hendrickson said. “It’s been a cool journey and when players look back, they will remember it for the rest of their lives. It was nice to win a series along the way. We went to ground zero. We could feel a lot of gratitude and enjoy our situation.”
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The trip began Thursday morning with multiple flight delays that eventually sent the Billikens back to campus. They returned for a 9pm flight, eventually departing at midnight and arriving at their hotel at 5:30am
Fordham agreed to reschedule the series opener on Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Due to the bad weather on Sunday, however, a double header had to be scheduled for Saturday.
The Billikens won the first game 2-1, lost 4-3 early Saturday and won the last game in the afternoon 7-4. Starting pitchers Logan Schmitt, Trevor Harris and Scott Youngbrandt have collectively pitched 20 1/3 innings , allowing for two unearned 18-hit runs. They crossed out 19 and went five.
“We served exceptionally,” said Hendrickson. “Even with our best staff, I can’t recall not giving up earned runs in all three games.”
Although the cold weather probably helped, pitching was a big sign of improvement. SLU started the season with a team ERA above 10.00 for one track as Hendrickson and new assistant Adam Revelette searched for answers.
SLU allowed 15 or more runs in four games. But after a 2-6 start, the Billikens have won 13 of their last 19. They meet Richmond at the Billiken Sports Center at 12:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Hendrickson knows that wind patterns at home can change the outcome of pitching numbers at any time. But after some concerns about rotation in the first few weeks of the season, he sees hope.
“I give Coach Revelette a lot of credit for calming the waters,” said Hendrickson. “He only got into a difficult situation in February. He gave the guys a voice and they slowly gained confidence every time.”
The staff is by no means overwhelmed. SLU ranks 204th out of 298 teams in strikeouts per nine innings. But the Billikens have drastically reduced the number of walks they exhibit.
Although opponents hit 0.294 to 0.256 from SLU, the trends have started to swing. Kyle Fitzgerald leads the team with .330 and 20 RBIs while Tyler Fogarty has seven home runs and 20 RBIs.
Once again, SLU will play a doubleheader this weekend after Friday’s kick-off was pushed back a day due to the weather. Weekend series against Illinois State, Austin Peay and Purdue-Fort Wayne also had to be reconfigured because of bad weather.