ARLINGTON, Va.— Top-seeded Saint Louis rallied in the ninth inning and secured a championship final bid in the 11th inning with a 5-4 win over second-seeded George Mason in the Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship semifinals Friday afternoon at Tucker Field.
The Billikens (37-18) will make their first appearance in the league title game since 2013, when they won the A-10. Due to impending rain, first pitch of the championship game will be at 11:00 am, and SLU will face the winner of the consolation bracket. George Mason (28-26) falls into the consolation bracket and will play again Friday at 7:00 pm against the Richmond/George Washington winner.
After a ninth-inning SLU rally tied the game and neither team was able to score in the 10th, Saint Louis’ James Morisano led off the bottom of the 12th with a pinch-hit double. Moved to third on a sac bunt, Morisano scored the walk-off game winner on a single by Carter Hanford that curled into left field and fell just inside the foul line.
A pitcher’s duel through five innings, Saint Louis starter Jackson Wark carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but a sixth-inning leadoff single by Mason’s Logan Driscoll broke up the no-no bid and started a two-run inning for the Patriots. Driscoll scored on a single by Daniel Brooks, and Trevor Kelly scored on a sacrifice fly by Alejandro Aponte. The two runs erased a fifth-inning solo home run by Hanford that had given the Billikens a one-run lead.
Mason tallied two more runs in the seventh on a Kelly single that pushed Brady Acker, and a Brooks single that sent Driscoll home again. A second SLU home run in the eighth pulled the Billikens within two and set up the dramatic ninth inning.
Needing two runs to tie the game the three to win, Saint Louis promptly loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, and tied the game on a pair of walks. Mason forced the game into extra innings with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout, but the Billikens’ efforts put a brilliant eight-inning, four-hit performance by Mason starter Jared DiCesear into the no decision category.
Both teams used several pitchers, and Ryan Lefner (1-4) got the win, throwing 2 2/3 innings, with two hits and no runs. Tim Turner (0-4) took the loss, allowing one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Hanford led the Billikens with a 2-for-4 performance and three RBI, including the solo homer and the game-winning hit. Driscoll and Kelly each went 3-for-6 for Mason, and Daniel Brooks had a team-high two RBI.