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St. John’s Baseball takes four of five in extended week

The Red Storm beat three different metropolitan rivals to pick up steam when they need it most.

Tennis: US Open Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

A quintet of St. John’s baseball games over the course of six days last week didn’t faze the Red Storm as they came away with wins in four of five games over three different opponents. The momentum continued from the week prior when the Johnnies seemed to turn their season around, now 7-1 in their last eight games and outscoring opponents by a clean 4.5 runs per game.

The week began with a rescheduled rendezvous with the Hofstra Lions in Queens.

St. John’s 9 | Hofstra 7

W: McCarthy (1-2) L: Keenan (1-1) S: Sanzio (3)

The Red Storm leapt out to an early lead against the Lions, scoring in the 1st and 3rd innings to establish a three-run lead.

The game began as a home run derby for LF David Glancy who hit two home runs with the bases clear on the 3rd and 4th pitches he saw in the game. Glancy walked in the 5th inning and then hit yet another solo shot on the first pitch he saw in the 7th inning. Glancy fortified the Johnnies effort with an RBI walk in the 8th, ending his day at the dish.

Nine Johnnies stepped up to the plate in Tuesday’s game, and the eight not named David Glancy accounted for five runs on six hits and six walks.

On the mound for the hometown Johnnies, Brandon Backman took the Red Storm four innings in his first of two starts this week. Backman’s outing got the job done as he left the game with only a run conceded and three strikeouts.

Ben Adams and Tim Cunningham anchored the middle of the game for the Johnnies recording the next nine outs and giving the Lions a pair of runs each in the process. Oliver McCarthy, the game’s winning pitcher, followed for an inning of the one-hit ball where a runner scored on a fielder’s choice. Chuck Sanzio slammed the door on the Lions in the 9th with a one-hit inning of his own to record the save.

Despite the mid-week matchup, the Johnnies had a quick turnover from one guest to another as the Lions made way for the Wagner Seahawks, visiting Queens not even 24-hours after the game ended.

St. John’s 6 | Wagner 4

W: Fauci (1-0) L: LaPointe (0-1) S: Sanzio (4)

The 2-15 Wagner Seahawks posed little threat to St. John’s at home despite what the final score shows. The Red Storm jumped out to an early lead and tacked more runs on the board when things got chippy.

A pair of runs in each of the first two innings put the game away early for St. John’s as seven of nine players reached base in the first two frames and SS Kevin Michaels collected two RBIs with a third runner being tagged out at home.

Overall, the St. John’s offense looked a lot more confident with production spread amongst the team. All nine Johnnies with plate appearances made their way on base and even saw Paul Orbon contribute to the run-scoring pinch-running in the 8th.

Sonny Fauci picked up the start for St. John’s against Wagner and went three perfect innings and struck out the side in the 3rd inning as part of his six total strikeouts. Joe Mascio followed Fauci and, although he wasn’t perfect, matched Fauci’s three innings with only four base runners allowed.

Vinny Bianchi succeeded Mascio and recorded 1.1 innings giving up the first Wagner run of the game and was followed by Jake Alfaro who gave up another run without recording an out. Tim Cunningham recomposed the St. John’s pitching in the 8th and then lost his touch with runs conceded of his own in the 8th and 9th innings.

Going for his 2nd save opportunity in as many days, Chuck Sanzio ended the game for the Seahawks with a strikeout in the bottom of the 9th inning.

The Red Storm victory on Wednesday moved the team’s season-long winning streak to five as they moved into an off day before hosting Quinnipiac for a weekend tripleheader.

Game 1: St. John’s 5 | Quinnipiac 8

W: Garcia (3-3) L: Johnson (2-1) S: Romano (1)

In the series opener against Quinnipiac, the Johnnies flashed back to the team that began the season in near-freefall. The Bobcats took an early lead by way of a three-run home run in the 2nd inning and built upon their score until the lead doubled to six runs in the eighth inning.

Five runs scored in the final two innings were both too little to overcome the initial deficit and insufferable to the pair of 9th inning Quinnipiac runs.

In his first losing effort of the season, Dylan Johnson’s start for the Red Storm fell victim to the team’s long game. Johnson, uncharacteristically for the team, remained in the match as the starter despite four runs given up before recording eight outs. Johnson weathered the storm and was pulled after 4.2 innings.

Ben Adams succeeded Johnson with a moderate amount of success with four strikeouts over 2.1 shutout innings. Oliver McCarthy entered the game in the eights inning, and in 1.1 innings, gave up the final four Bobcat runs to seal St. John’s fate. Tim Cunningham recorded two outs and gave up two hits to give the Johnnies a fighting chance in the 9th.

Late offensive successes for the Red Storm came off the bat of 3B Tate Ballestero who went 3-for-4 on the day with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Ballestero’s statistical output came in large part to one of two St. John’s home runs in the 8th inning where 2B Max Shabestari hit the other.

Early shortcomings can hardly be the faults of either side of the St. John’s squad as Bobcats’ starting pitcher, junior Brandyn Garcia had the best outing of his career with six innings pitched and eight baserunners conceded, all of which were picked off or left stranded.

Game 2: St. John’s 7 | Quinnipiac 3

W: Rodriguez (1-1) L: Seitter (0-4)

St. John’s responded to the series-opening loss and force a rubber match by one-upping Quinnipiac on the scoreboard. In the four frames where the Red Storm scored, the team outscored the Bobcats by exactly one in that inning.

A pair of runs in the 1st, three in the 3rd, and a run in each of the 4th and 5th innings were all the team had in the tank for Saturday’s match, and luckily it was more than the Bobcats could provide.

A total of 13 Johnnies played the field, the most at home this season, but only 10 faced a pitch. 1B Nick Cirelli, batting 7th, collected three of the six St. John’s hits on Saturday and was responsible for three of five RBIs from the team. Cirelli’s effort wasn’t completely out of the blue as it was his 7th game with multiple hits of the season, but it did set a season-high for him in hits and RBIs.

Aside from Cirelli’s big day, SS Kevin Michaels and C Colin Wetterau are responsible for the other two team RBIs and OF Jackson Tucker scored on a ground ball that turned a double play and throwing error after his steal of 3rd base.

Joe Joe Rodriguez broke from his traditional bullpen role to pitch for the first time this week as a starter. In his 2nd game as a starter for the Red Storm, Rodriguez went seven full innings and gave up three runs, all of which were unearned. Joe Mascio followed Rodriguez’s stellar outing with a pair of innings where he gave up only a hit to force a rubber match on Sunday between the two sides.

Game 3: St. John’s 7 | Quinnipiac 4

W: Fauci (2-0) L: Hutchinson (0-1) S: Sanzio (5)

A back and forth tie-breaking game fell into the Johnnies' lap once they took the lead in the bottom of the 5th and never looked back. Well-rounded approaches to the game on both sides of the ball yielded a win in a rather strange game on the scoreboard.

OF Jackson Tucker’s day on the basepath was rather peculiar, as he scored in three different ways. Tucker’s walk to lead off the game opened the door for him to swipe second base the next at-bat. Tucker advanced two more bases on two balks and scored the game’s first run before a ball had been put in play. Tucker then scored on an error in the 5th inning as the first two runners were on and then scored yet again in the 9th when a throw to catch him stealing 3rd sailed past the Bobcat 3rd baseman.

Tucker’s three trips on base yielded a commensurate amount of runs and contributed to the big day had by the top four batters, combining to go 5-for-15 and four walks with six runs scored.

Brandon Backman picked up another start for St. John’s and matched his start earlier in the week with four innings. Backman conceded an additional pair of runs in the game and struck out five in his time on the mound.

Sonny Fauci entered the game as the first reliever and picked up his second win of the week for his time. Fauci’s two innings resulted in only one more run for the Bobcats and yielded a pair of strikeouts. Tim Cunningham and Chuck Sanzio followed for one and two innings respectfully with Cunningham giving up a run on a hit and a walk while Sanzio was perfect in his third save of the week.

Another series win at the hands of a metropolitan opponent gave the Johnnies a chance to show what they’re capable of individually and as a team.

St. John’s 5 | Columbia 1

W: Mascio (2-0) L: Healy (0-1)

In their 13th and final game of St. John’s annual non-conference homestand, the Red Storm got creative with only one run scoring on an RBI base hit.

St. John’s opened the scoring in the 3rd inning with a trio of runs. OF Jackson Tucker, DH David Glancy, and 3B Tate Ballestero walked on four, eight, and ten pitches respectively to load the bases for the Johnnies with one out in the frame. The ensuing plate appearance resulted in SS Kevin Michaels bringing a run in after being hit by a pitch. C Colin Wetterau followed suit with a walk to score another run and RF Carlos Hidalgo fouled out, hitting the ball deep enough to score again for the Johnnies.

Despite not being a contributor to the team’s big inning, LF Paul Orbon collected one of three St. John’s base hits in the game and collected a pair of RBIs in the second half of the game.

Defensively, the Johnnies sent eight pitchers to the mound, each recording at least an out. Joe Mascio got the start and his second win of the season for St. John’s going three innings and allowing just one base runner thanks to a walk. Vinny Bianchi relieved Mascio with a pair of innings and matched Mascio’s near perfection with just a walk allowed and three strikeouts.

Jude Zern and Chuck Sanzio were the only St. John’s pitchers with perfect outings, each going for an inning (the 6th and 9th innings respectively). Geoff Mosseau, Tim Cunningham, Oliver McCarthy, and Dylan Johnson filled the time between Zern and Sanzio each pitching for less than an inning. The participating staff kept control of the game with the only blemish coming in the 8th inning with a run charged to McCarthy.

The 10-15 Red Storm have four games before conference play begins in two weekends with four of those coming next week. The team will head to Lawrenceville, New Jersey to take on Rider over the weekend and return to Queens for one game against Fairfield next week.

The sequence will be the final series of tests before Big East play begins where the Johnnies look to rising back to championship form, where they were four years ago.