STJ offense thrives during Big East-Big Ten Challenge

The No. 23 St. John’s baseball team opened the 2011 season last weekend in St. Petersburg, Fl. as a participant in the second-annual Big East-Big Ten challenge, going 2-1 in its three games.

The Red Storm jumped out to a 2-0 start by scoring 27 runs against Minnesota and Michigan before falling to Ohio State in extra innings in the tournament’s finale.

Sophomore outfielder Jeremy Baltz went 7-for-14 in the tournament with seven RBI and earned Big East Player of the Week honors for his performance.  The Baseball America preseason All-American led the Red Storm in hits, runs, RBI and total bases for the weekend and had multiple RBI in each of the games.

After the strong showing against Minnesota and Michigan, St. John’s seven runs weren’t enough to top the Buckeyes, who scored their game-winning eighth run on a botched fielder’s choice by third baseman Sean O’Hare.

Though the Red Storm jumped out to a 7-1 lead behind starter Brendan Lobban’s four innings of one-run ball, Ohio State scored six runs in the fifth to tie it and shut down the St. John’s offense the rest of the way.

St. John’s scored 13 runs on 17 hits against the Buckeyes’ rival Michigan Wolverines a day prior, with six starters posting multi-hit games in the 13-1 win. Junior Stephen Rivera earned the win after pitching 3 2/3 shutout innings while Baltz, fellow sophomore Jimmy Brennan and junior Matt Wessinger led the offense with a combined seven RBI.

The Red Storm powered its way to a 14-1 win over Minnesota in their season opener on Feb. 18, as the Johnnies utilized a six-run fifth and a combined one-run outing from Sean Hagan and Kyle Hansen.  Though St. John’s stranded runners in each of the first two innings, the Red Storm put runners on in every inning.