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Big East Tournament begins on Thursday; St. John’s rides a sweep of Seton Hall

The Johnnies wrapped up the season with a clutch sweep of Seton Hall.

SJU vs Fairfield baseball

After Falling to 4th in the Big East standings and locking up their spot in the Conference Tournament, the Red Storm needed a sweep of Seton Hall to move up to the 3rd seed.

The final series would be three games being and held in Queens, which proved to be a determining factor in the series.

May 16th-18th Series vs. Seton Hall

Game 1: St. John’s 3, Seton Hall 0 | WP: LaSorsa (5-5) LP: DeVito (2-5) S: Hollowell (7)

Game 1 resulted in a 3-0 win for the Red Storm in a game that looked like it could go either way for the first six innings. Both starters pitched at least sic innings and allowed two runs or fewer.

The Storm bats looked dormant for the first five innings as only three batters could collect a hit and as a team no more than a hit in each frame.

The game took off in the 6th inning as 2B Ryan Markey hit a two-run double that scored LF Mike Antico — who was on base for his 3rd time in the game — and 3B Carson Bartels who doubled earlier in the inning.

In the 7th control issues sank the Pirates. Three St. John’s batters were hit in a matter of 6 pitches from Seton Hall to load the bases. C Wyatt Mascarella knocked in the final run on a fielder’s choice to push the game to 3-0.

In his final regular season start for St. John’s, Joe LaSorsa pitched a needed eight shutout innings, giving up only six hits. LaSorsa recorded three strikeouts before being relieved by Gavin Hollowell. Hollowell gave up one walk in his inning of relief to preserve the shutout for St. John’s.

The Pirates matched the six hits by St. John’s but fell victim to their three errors. Starter Ricky DeVito pitched six innings and shut out the Storm through the first five and recorded a quality start that went to waste.

Game 2: St. John’s 7, Seton Hall 6 | WP: Greenberg (3-1) LP: Sawyer (1-1)

Given the time of season, Game 2 against Seton Hall may have topped the list of exciting games this season for St. John’s.

The Red Storm came back from down three in the bottom of the 9th to walk it off at home and keep their chances for the sweep alive.

The Red Storm offense chalked up eleven hits from seven starters and a pinch hitter. Three players had two hits for the Storm. 2B Ryan Markey had two RBI on the day including a sac fly in the 9th to start the rally. 3B Carson Bartels, who scored on the Markey sac fly, also had two hits. Lastly, LF Mike Antico, who had two hits and two walks, scored in the 9th to bring the game within one.

Starter Jeff Belge pitched 4.2 innings and conceded only one ER in his effort to keep the game close. Belge walked four and struck out five in his outing. The next three pitchers from the bullpen gave up four runs, before Ben Greenberg came in for the final two outs to try and keep St. John’s in it.

Seton Hall came out aggressive and took a 3-0 lead of their own in the game but weren’t able to hold it as the pitching collapsed in late innings. SS Steve Grober hit a two-run home run to center field in the 8th inning to extend the Seton Hall lead... before St. John’s came back in the bottom of the ninth.

Game 3: St. John’s 6, Seton Hall 2 | WP: Mondak (2-2) LP: Festa (3-4) S: Hollowell (8)

The season finale saw both teams eager to leap out in front. Both teams scored in the 1st inning and St. John’s winning the early battle by a score of 3-1.

St. John’s came out swinging and got five base runners on in their first chance at bat. The nine hits for the team were shared by seven players, led (again) by LF Mike Antico and DH Brandon Miller with two each. The pair combined for an RBI, two runs scored, and a walk to add on to their resumes for the season. The final runs for the game came on a 1B Ryan Hogan two-run home run in the bottom of the 5th.

The Red Storm sent Nick Mondak to the mound for the last regular season game of the year. Mondak pitched five innings before relief from Ian Murphy; Murphy missed out on the start due to the short week.

Murphy pitched 2.2 innings. Combined with Mondak, the duo allowed two earned runs, five hits and three walks to their eight strikeouts. Reliever Gavin Hollowell got a four-out save, giving up only one baserunner to a walk.

The Pirates collected only one hit after the 5th inning and with their loss, fell out of the top-3 in the Big East.

With the final series in the books for St. John’s the first Big East sweep of the season came at exactly the right time. The Red Storm finished the season 30-21 overall and an even 9-9 in conference play. Their 21-4 record at home — compared to 9-17 on the road — makes the Big East Tournament set up no easy ride for the Johnnies.

The Big East Tournament begins on May 23rd with a game against tournament host, Xavier. St. John’s will also take on top-seeded (and #25 ranked) Creighton and Seton Hall in pool play and if they qualify, will play in the championship game on May 26th.

St. John’s went 1-2 against Xavier in Queens this season.

The winner of tonight’s game faces the winner of Creighton/ Seton Hall. The team that loses both games on Thursday and Friday is out, while the winner of two games faces gets an extra day of rest until Sunday’s championship game.

Tonight’s game starts at 6:30 PM and can be seen on Twitter Live or the Big East Digital Network/ Caffeine. The earlier game can be seen on those outlets, starting at 2:30.