The St. John’s baseball team was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament - one win away from tying their single-season win record that was set back in 2010.
A hard fought 3-1 loss to UNC-Greensboro in the Clemson Regional of the NCAA Tournament followed a 13-4 defeat to perennial SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt, where the Red Storm held a lead into the bottom of the fifth before the Commodores scored 12 unanswered runs to take control of the game.
In the NCAAs, a team gets two shots to stave off elimination - and the Red Storm couldn’t pull it out. Fellow Big East NCAA Tournament participant Xavier was also eliminated in the first weekend of Regional play.
Ed Blankmeyer’s St. John’s baseball team was ranked as high as #4 by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. They squad began the 42-win season with an 8-0 record down in in the Carolinas, including a thrilling extra-inning win over defending national champions Coastal Carolina, and a road win at then 7th-ranked North Carolina.
The Red Storm were carried by one of the nation’s most explosive offenses, with eight players finishing the season with batting averages over .300. Leading the pack for the Johnnies was Troy Dixon, who led all catchers nationally with a .394 average to go along with a .525 slugging percentage.
Heading into this past week’s regional games, the Johnnies were third in the nation with a team average of .327.
Despite all of the stars in the St. John’s lineup, the team’s breakout start was RHP Sean Mooney.
The freshman New Jersey native finished with a 1.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts compared to only 16 walks. Mooney was the only Red Storm pitcher to eclipse 100 innings pitched, and was the only pitcher to toss a complete game against Maine, when he only allowed four hits. Mooney’s performances landed him as a Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-American, as well as Big East Pitcher of the year, and a unanimous Big East Freshman of the year.
As Rumble in the Garden writer Nick Diamantis pointed out earlier in the week, the Red Storm were the only squad to rank in the top 20 nationally in both batting average and ERA, and alongside Sam Houston State, were the only two teams in the top 25 to accomplish the feat.
The pitching rotation held opponents to a .235 average.
Ed Blankmeyer and his staff were also recognized by the conference as the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. Mooney and Blankmeyer were joined in Big East honors by Dixon (unanimous selection), John Valente, Josh Shaw, Jesse Berardi, Michael Donadio, and Anthony Brocato, who all made the All-Big East First Team. Freshman Relief Pitcher Joe LaSorsa was named to the second team.
After finishing with a 13-5 record in conference play, the Red Storm advanced to the championship game in the Big East Tournament, where they fell to Xavier 7-6.
The Red Storm will have some major holes to fill next year.
Starting third baseman Robbie Knightes, Troy Dixon, Michael Donadio and Gui Gingras are all graduating. Each of those players finished with averages over .300. Donadio started all 55 games in the outfield, Knightes started all 49 games he appeared in, and Gingras started 40 of the 50 games he played in.
In the pitching rotation, the big loss will be Ryan McAuliffe. The 6 foot 4 right hander finished with a perfect 4-0 record in 6 starts and a 1.80 ERA. Despite these losses, the team does return a lot of key contributors like Mooney, John Valente, and Josh Shaw. Shaw was last year’s Big East Freshman of the Year.