The St. John's Red Storm baseball team got out to a commanding 5-0 lead early, but were not able to hold it as they were upended in extra innings, 7-6 to go down 1-0 to the Arizona Wildcats in a best-of-three series to advance to the College World Series.
In the top of the 10th St. John's took a 6-5 lead and looked to close it out in the bottom of the 10th with Stephen Rivera on the mound, their best relief pitcher during the season. Rivera walked the first batter of the inning, Robert Refsnyder, and the runner was advanced to second on a sac bunt.
Kevin Kilpatrick came in and gave up the hit to Arizona's Bobby Brown that tied the game. James Lomangino entered with the bases loaded and one out and tried to send the game to more extras. But Lomangino couldn't get it done as the Wildcats walked off on a Trent Gilbert gapper.
Arizona celebrated their dramatic win on a scorching desert afternoon, and sent the Johnnies dejected into the dugout.
The top of the fourth was the big inning for the Red Storm as they took a 5-0 lead after five straight hits and getting to Arizona ace Kurt Heyer. Matt Wessinger started off the frame with a single and was followed by a hit and run single by Frankie Schwindel that moved him to third. Baltz had the first RBI with a single and Sean O'Hare followed that with a single to load the bases.
Zack Lauricella singled and it was 2-0 after five straight hits. After a Danny Bethea strikeout, Brett Dennis singled to third base to score a run. Jimmy Brennan singled in a run while Dennis was called out trying to advance and the Johnnies inning was over but not without taking a commanding lead.
But the Wildcats would not go down without a fight. The Wildcats scored a run in each the fourth, fifth and three in the sixth and made Hansen work to make it a one run game at 5-4. Jimmy Brennan missed a fly ball that was ruled a triple in the sixth that would have ended the inning but instead gave the Wildcats renewed life. A flubbed fly ball by Kyle Richardson tied the game and ended Hansen's day. Stephen Rivera entered and a pitch out, caught stealing ended the inning.
After starting the game without allowing a hit in the first 3.1 innings, Hansen ran into trouble in the later innings. Hansen didn't have his best stuff and battled through 5.2 innings, giving up seven hits, five runs, four earned and walking four while striking out one.
The game went extras after solid pitching from Rivera out of the bullpen and Heyer who pitched into the 10th. But a Schwindel single that hopped over Arizona shortstops head and a pass ball lead to a one out Sean O'Hare double that gave the Johnnies the lead again 6-5.
Lauricella laced a single and O'Hare was thrown out at home to keep a one run lead for the Johnnies going into the bottom of the 10th trying to close it out.
Now the Johnnies have to win two in a row starting today in their elimination game. The Red Storm sends out Sean Hagan (8-2, 2.72) who has been their best pitcher this year. He will try to extend the Johnnies season to Sunday in a winner take all game.
The game begins at 3pm eastern time on ESPN2.
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