St. John’s Wins Big East Series Against Villanova

St. John’s continued their roll through the Big East against Villanova and improved to 8-3 in the conference, maintaining their tie with Creighton for first place. The Red Storm won the first two games of the weekend’s series before the Wildcats held off a ninth inning comeback to stave off the sweep.

As he has all season, Cody Stashak set the table on Friday for St. John’s with another solid performance. The JuCo transfer pitched 6.2 shutout innings and allowed just four hits in a 7-3 Red Storm victory.

“I just got motivated to go out and get the win,” Stashak said. “Because last week I didn’t pitch so [well]. I just came out [today] and kept throwing strikes.”

St. John’s broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning on a single by Alex Caruso and a double by Michael Donadio. They added three more runs in the sixth on an error and two passed balls by Villanova. The Wildcats got back in the game in the eighth with three runs of their own, but St. John’s iced the game in the bottom of the inning with another RBI single by Caruso and a successful squeeze bunt play by Jesse Berardi.

“I just go out and do my job, get outs, throw strikes and set everything up,” Stashak said. “I was hitting my spots and the defense was doing the job behind me.”

On Saturday, Villanova struck first and took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. St. John’s tied the game on a series of hits and a wild pitch before Robert Wayman hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run to give St. John’s a 6-3 lead.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and just trying to get that ball in the air to the outfield so the runner could score,” Wayman said. “Luckily, it went out, and that was a big spot that we needed.”

After Villanova scored two runs in the sixth to make it a 6-5 game, Wayman drove in another run on a double. In the seventh, Anthony Brocato drove in a run with a single and Caruso hit a two-run double to make it 10-5. Villanova clawed back with two more runs, but Thomas Hackimer was able to close out the game in the ninth for the second day in a row.

“You just got to keep winning,” Wayman said. “However you can find out, keep winning, nobody gains on you if you win.”

On Sunday, Villanova jumped out 6-3 in the seventh inning on a two-run double by Kevin Jewitt and a two-run home run by Max Beerman. They added another run in the eighth, and they needed it.

In the bottom of the ninth, St. John’s attempted a comeback. Troy Dixon hit a two-run home run to make it a 7-5 game and Caruso beat out a double play ball to score another run. The Red Storm put the tying and winning runs on third and second base, but Zach Lauricella hit a hard line drive that was caught by the right fielder Donovan May to end the game.

Despite the loss, St. John’s improved to 8-3 in Big East play and remains tied for first in the conference with Creighton after the Blue Jays split a Sunday double-header against Butler.  Their next conference series is at Georgetown the first weekend of May and the Big East schedule wraps up the next weekend against Xavier at home.