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St. John's baseball continues winning ways, in third place in Big East

The beat goes on for St. John’s inside Jack Kaiser Stadium.

The Red Storm hosted their first conference games of the year this past weekend and swept the Butler Bulldogs in a three-game series to improve to 14-1 at home. St. John’s now is 4-2 in the Big East, good for sole possession of third place behind Xavier (6-0) and Creighton (3-0). 

St. John’s (20-13 overall) limited Butler to single runs on Friday and Saturday, but needed to outslug the Bulldogs in Sunday’s series finale to complete the sweep.

Bret Dennis hit a grand slam as part of a six-run fourth inning Sunday as the Red Storm won 9-7. St. John’s won 3-1 on Friday and were the 6-1 victors on Saturday.

Dennis also had an RBI single in the third inning.

Chris Kalica (5-1) survived long enough in the game to secure a win. He allowed five runs, one earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Joe Kuzia pitched the final two innings of the game for his sixth save.

The Red Storm’s Matt Harris accounted for the rest of the Red Storm’s runs Sunday and finished with three RBI. He hit a two-run homer in the same inning as Dennis’ grand slam. Before the homer, he hit an RBI single in the first inning to give St. John’s an early 1-0.

St. John’s saw tremendous pitching from their starters in the first two games of the series. James Lomangino (3-4) set the tone in Friday’s win.

The righty matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts and allowed a run on four hits in eight innings.

Chris Maranto hit a solo homer in the first inning to give Butler a 1-0 and the Bulldogs held that advantage until seventh inning when St. John’s broke through with three runs.

Michael Donadio gave the Red Storm the lead with one swing when he hit a two-run homer. Jarred Mederos hit a one-out double before Donadio’s blast.

Tyler Sanchez hit an RBI double later in the inning to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead.

Kuzia ran into trouble in the ninth as Butler put two men on, but eventually retired the side to preserve the win.

Ryan McCormick (4-1) on Saturday continued what Lomangino started the previous day and gave St. John’s a solid effort on the mound.

McCormick allowed a run on five hits in six innings with three strikeouts. He struggled with his control and walked four Bulldogs.

Thomas Hackimer pitched the final three innings to earn his fifth save this year.

Alex Caruso paced the St. John’s attack with three hits. Harris, Donadio and Robert Wayman recorded two hits each.

St. John’s is off today but travels to Albany Tuesday to play the Great Danes. The Red Storm return home Wednesday to play Columbia before starting a three-game series with the New York Institute of Technology. The first game of that series is Friday at NYIT. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday at Jack Kaiser Stadium.