On Monday, the NCAA selection committee announced the field of 64 for the 2016 NCAA Baseball Tournament and the St. John’s Red Storm found themselves in a star-studded Clemson University regional as the #3 seed. The regional also features host team, #1 Clemson, plus #2 Vanderbilt, and #4 UNC-Greensboro.
The St. John's Red Storm will make their 36th appearance in the NCAA Tournament after earning at-large berth to the field of 64. They will open up Regional action on Friday, June 2, when they on #2 Vanderbilt at 12 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
The Johnnies finished the just one victory away from tying the program record for wins in a season with a 42-11 record heading into tomorrow’s contest. Offensively, the Johnnies currently rank third in Division I with a team batting average of .327 and eight of the Red Storm’s nine everyday starters are hitting .305 or better. Four of those players are currently batting at a .358 clip or higher, including starting catcher Troy Dixon who currently leads all Division I catchers with a .394 batting average.
As much as the Johnnies excel with their bats, they also possess a very impressive pitching staff that quietly ranks among the best of the best of Division I baseball. The Johnnies rank sixth nationally with a 2.97 ERA, led by 2017 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Sean Mooney, who comes into the Clemson regional with a 1.22 ERA. As a team, the Johnnies are the only squad to rank in the top 20 nationally in both batting average and ERA and one of only two teams alongside Sam Houston State to rank in the top 25 in both.
In the Johnnies’ last NCAA appearance in 2015, the Red Storm advanced to the Stillwater Regional Final, eliminating top-seeded Oklahoma State before falling to Omaha-bound Arkansas which featured current Boston Red Sox star Andrew Benintendi. St. John’s is 65-64 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
St. John’s has had very little history with the three other teams in their region. The Red Storm have only faced Vanderbilt one time before tomorrow’s matchup, losing to the Commodores 7-2 at the Troy State Classic in Dothan, Alabama, on March 2, 2001. The Johnnies are 1-1 all-time against UNC-Greensboro, falling 9-7 on March 8, 2011, in Greensboro before claiming a neutral site victory in the Keith LeClair Classic on February 22, 2015.
Clemson and St. John’s have matched up on six occasions, with the Tigers holding a 5-1 all-time advantage. Clemson won the first matchup in March of 1975 before claiming three victories in May of 1988, the last of which came in the NCAA Northeast Regional. After a 10-6 neutral site win for the Johnnies on March 16, 1993, the Red Storm fell in the lone matchup between the two teams during the Ed Blankmeyer Era, as Clemson claimed a 3-2 win in the opening game of the 2007 Myrtle Beach Regional.
Sean Mooney (8-1, 1.22 ERA) will most likely have the start for the Johnnies tomorrow afternoon and will face Vanderbilt RHP Patrick Raby (9.3, 2.24 ERA). A win for Johnnies would be crucial for Ed Blankmeyer’s squad if they want to advance to next week’s Super Regional round.
St. John’s Projected Lineup
1B John Valente
LF Michael Donadio
SS Jesse Berardi
RF Anthony Brocato
DH Gui Gingras
2B Josh Shaw
C Troy Dixon
3B Robbie Knightes
CF Jamie Galazin
Friday, June 2nd
Game 1: Vanderbilt vs. St. John’s, 12:00pm EST
Game 2: Clemson vs. UNC Greensboro, 7:00pm EST
Saturday, June 3rd
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 12:00pm EST
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7:00pm EST
Sunday, June 4th
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1:00pm EST
Game 6: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:00pm EST
Monday, June 5th (if needed)
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 4:00pm EST