Baseball wins home opener

After a rough time on the road, perhaps some home cooking is what the St. John’s baseball team needs to get it going.

The Red Storm opened the 2014 season with a 13 game road-trip, going 3-10 against teams including Pepperdine, FAU, and Nebraska. Finally home, they handily beat Iona 7-2 on Tuesday with the help from some new faces, three freshmen in the starting lineup.

“You know, it feels good,” freshman Troy Dixon said. “We’ve been on the road for a while, a lot of traveling, but we’re back home now so hopefully we get something started.”

They’ll get used to the feeling, as the team now gets to play 12 of their next 13 back at Jack Kaiser Stadium.

“It’s nice to be home,” head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “I think the guys are a little more comfortable now, get into a little bit of a routine, and you usually play your best baseball [at home], so we’re happy with that.”

After leaving the bases loaded in the second inning and falling behind 2-0 in the fourth, the Johnnies rallied, as third baseman Robbie Knightes laced an RBI single to open the scoring and cut Iona’s lead in half. He went 3 for 4 in the victory to raise his batting average to .412.

“Yeah we started a little slow, I think we were a sluggish coming out but I think we picked it up,” Knightes said. “We started to have some more good at-bats. When I got that hit, I was just trying to put the ball in play and it fell.”

Designated hitter Dixon gave the Johnnies a 3-2 lead two batters later. It was redemption for the freshman, as he grounded out to second with the bases loaded to end the second inning.

“My first at-bat,” Dixon said.“I didn’t get my hands there. My second at-bat I just tried to lift it and get it in the outfield, make something happen.”

“I think they’re stilling trying to find themselves a little bit,” Blankmeyer said of Dixon and Knightes. “Robbie took a little while to get started but we let him get acclimated the first weekend. And Troy, we’re getting him at-bats, we got to get Troy behind the dish more.”

The Red Storm would go on to score five that inning. They added runs after Dixon’s big hit on RBIs from second baseman Robert Wayman and first baseman Matt Harris and an error on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Tyler Sanchez.

“We’re going to take it one at a time, as the old adage goes. Our approach is to win pitches and win innings, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Blankmeyer said. “We’re just trying to, offensively, string as many at-bats together to keep the line moving. Bottom line, our pitchers have got to be fastball-command oriented, and if  they’re going to get beat, let the bat beat them, not the walk.”