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St. John’s Baseball: Red Storm lose 2 of 3 to Xavier in Big East home opener

The Johnnies played their final 5 game week and played through a marathon game.

baseball diamond by John Liu

The Johnnies took came back to New York after their first Big East series wins to Queens with a 5-game homestand this week, including home Big East opener against Xavier.

Joe Kelly, who had two saves, won Big East Player of the Week.

April 9, St. John’s vs. University of Albany

St. John’s 5, Albany 4 | WP: Greenberg (2-1) LP: Yankowski (0-2) S: Holloway (2)

The Red Storm began their 5 game homestand this week with a late rally to finish off Albany.

St. John’s started Freshman Ian Murphy on the mound. Murphy pitched 5 innings and gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 1 ER. The bullpen came in highlighted by winning pitcher Ben Greenberg who pitched 2.1 perfect innings other that 1 HBP. Greenberg recorded 4 strikeouts before Gavin Hollowell came into the game for the 9th inning conceding only 1 hit and preserving the Red Storm victory.

The offense had a weak start to the game and fell behind 4-2 after the 6th inning, but perseverance paid off after scoring in the 7th and 8th innings lifted them above Albany.

SS Brandon Bossard and LF Mike Antico led the Storm with 2 hits each. Both contributed to the winning effort with Antico scoring on a wild pitch and Bossard hitting the game winning RBI single in the bottom of the 8th. The rest of the team underperformed by their standards as the rest of the team accounted for only 3 hits but 4 RBI.

The University of Albany’s highlights came on both sides of the ball. The offense put up all 4 of their runs off of 2 home runs. The pitching tamed the St. John’s bats for the first 6 innings as they maintained a narrow Albany lead.

Albany pitching is what ended up costing them the game as the game tying run was scored on a wild pitch. The fielding for the Albany Great Danes was stellar as they committed no errors and the St. John’s bats got the ball in play a lot, striking out only 2 times.

April 10, St. John’s vs. LIU Brooklyn

St. John’s 11, Columbia 10 | WP: Hollowell (3-2) LP: Schreier (0-1)

St. John’s needed extra innings to beat the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds for their Wednesday game.

As the score suggests, the pitching for both teams was exhausted, and the game saw 19 pitchers, 9 of which pitched for St. John’s. Nick Mondak got the start and in his 2 innings the Blackbirds scored 2 runs, both unearned. The pitching as a whole was statistically some of the worst the Red Storm have pitched this season as they walked 9 batters and only struck out 3. Poor pitching led to a 3 run deficit that the Storm had to make up in their final 2 frames at the plate.

Errors also contributed to the struggle on defense as 2 errors accounted for 4 LIU Brooklyn runs, runs that made the game a lo closer than expected.

The Red Storm offense tore up the stat sheet as they recorded 16 hits from 9 batters including a 4-hit, 8-base day from 1B Ryan Hogan. Hogan hit a solo home run in the 7th to go along with a double and 2 singles in his powerful outing. 4 other batters had 2-hit games and 7 had RBIs.

St. John’s couldn’t produce a high scoring inning in the game, however they did score in 7 of the 11 innings they went up to bat.

LIU Brooklyn had much to applaud after the game as they gave the Storm a run for their money, especially late. Surging out to a few small leads before the later innings and scoring consistently was one of many brilliant areas for the Blackbirds. In the later innings, they matched the 16 hits put up by St. John’s and even saw an inside-the-park home run of their own in the 6th inning.

April 12-14 series vs Xavier

Home Big East play for the Red Storm began against Xavier who is coming off a clean sweep of Georgetown last weekend.

Game 2 of the series ended up being the longest game played by the Red Storm in over 2 years on a 4:37 14-inning marathon.

Game 1: St. John’s 8, Xavier 11 | WP: Olson (1-0) LP: Kelly (2-1) S: Flamm (4)

The Red Storm began the series against Xavier with quick runs, scoring 3 after the first 2 innings. The teams 11 hits were split pretty evenly among all 9 starters with only 1 not recording a hit and 2 recording multiple hits. DH Mitchell Henshaw led the change for St. John’s with 3 RBIs, a hit, and a walk in Game 1. The Red Storm turned 7 of their hits for extra bases, highlighted by a Home Run from CF Sean McGeehan.

Joe LaSorsa got the start for the Storm and pitched 7 innings with 0 ER and 3 strikeouts to pair with his 3 walks issued. Joe Kelly followed up LaSorsa’s effort with 1.2 innings of work and surrendered 6 runs to go on top of the 5 that scored unearned under LaSorsa.

For Xavier, there was a lot to admire during the game. The biggest play came off the bat of Musketeers 1B Matt Warkentin as he hit a grand slam in the top of the 8th to make it a 6-run inning for Xavier. RF Luke Franzoni also hit a home run in the inning to get things started.

Xavier’s winning effort came largely on the backs of the offense as the pitching allowed all 8 runs scored by St. John’s and struck out only 6 but walked only 3.

Game 2: St. John’s 9, Xavier 8 | WP: French (1-0) LP: Kent (0-5)

Game 2 seemed like it was going to go Xavier’s way as the game neared it’s finish, but a late Storm surge pushed the game to extras and eventually saw a walk-off sac-fly.

St. John’s was the first team to get on the scoreboard with a run in the 1st and another in the 3rd before Xavier took the lead for most of the game. LF Mike Antico had a day leading the game off with a home run on the 4th pitch he faced, going 3-6 at the plate, and tallied 2 RBIs. All 9 starters got a hit and many got to the plate 6 or 7 times due to the length of the game.

Sean Mooney started the game on the mound for St. John’s and began well but began to lose control as he gave up 2 runs in the 4th and 2 in the 5th before being pulled for Ben Greenberg, who gave up another 4 in 1.2 innings. After the 6th inning, Ian Murphy, Gavin Hollowell and Turner French pitched 8 shut out innings for the Storm to take the game.

Xavier played outstanding in the middle innings as they put up all 8 runs between the 4th and 6th innings. RF Luke Franzoni hit his second home run of the series as le lead off the 8th inning.

Game 3: St. John’s 1, Xavier 8 | WP: Grammes (2-5) LP: Belge (1-4)

Game 3 was a rubber match for the series as the Red Storm tried to avoid dropping to .500 in Big East play.

Jeff Belge got the start for the final game of the week for the Storm. Belge pitched the first 3 innings without allowing a run, gave up 3 in the 4th, and returned to shut out the 5th. Belge’s outing yielded 4 strikeouts and 3 walks, strong enough to earn him a win had the bats not fallen cold.

The offense struck back in the 4th inning by also getting on the board, except they only scored 1 to Xavier’s 3. The Red Storm managed only 4 hits and collected their sole run on a based loaded sac fly by CF Sean McGeehan.

Xavier provided a unique challenge for the Red Storm as SP Conor Grammes also played a role as the DH/Leadoff hitter. In Grammes plate appearances, he went 1-2 with a run scored and 4 walks drawn. Grammes was a dual threat that was both the game’s most effective pitcher AND hitter.

Dropping the home-opening series of Big East Play was certainly a stinger for St. John’s as they are now .500 in Big East play, but they can bounce back next week and improve their record from 19-13, where it currently stands.

This week brings four games for St. John’s and they have no more 5-game weeks to look forward to.

The week begins on Tuesday April 16th at home against Fairleigh Dickinson in a game that will be viewable on ESPN3. The weekend series from April 18th-20th is an odd one against Villanova. Thursday and Saturday’s games will be played as home games in Queens and Friday’s game will be played in New Westbury, NY as a home game for Villanova.