Johnnies pitching woes continue in second straight home loss

Sports/Athletic Communications

Sports/Athletic Communications

Brandon Mauk, Digital Sports Emeritus

St. John’s pitching woes continued, and their offense couldn’t score enough to bail them out.

The Red Storm gave up a lead twice, and 10 stranded runners aborted their chances to return the favor, as they dropped Tuesday’s matchup 9-8 at Jack Kaiser Stadium.

The Johnnies (19-14-1) walked seven batters and allowed seven hits, as their lead in the 1st inning and later in the 8th inning did not hold up.

“Baseball’s the kind of game, it kind of tests you at times. It’s testing us right now and we’re scuffling. We’re scuffling and our pitching has got to come around,” head coach Ed Blankmeyer said.

St. John’s immediately jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Michael Donadio, a two-run triple by Jesse Berardi (4-for-4 on the day), and an RBI by Mark Venice after reaching on error at first base.

Freshman starter Michael LoPresti struggled to slam the door, as all four runs he surrendered came after he got two easy outs. Saint Peter’s scored a pair in the second and third innings tied it at four.

St. John’s spoiled their first of many chances to break away in the bottom of the third, as Venice was caught stealing second base with runners on the corners and one out. Saint Peter’s took a 7-4 lead in the fifth as reliever Joey Graziano walked three batters and did not record an out.

Now down three, St. John’s struggled to put a rally of their own together. Gui Gingras stranded two runners. Backup catcher Kyle Cunningham, who went 2-for-4 in his first start as a member of the Red Storm, was picked off first in the sixth, and St. John’s stranded two more in the inning.

“We got enough hits, 16 hits, but we didn’t put anything together,” Blankmeyer said. “We’re not playing well.”

St. John’s finally put together the rally they needed in the seventh inning. Gavin Garay, Robbie Knightes, and Alex Caruso eached had RBI singles to even the score at seven. Josh Shaw gave St. John’s the lead with a sacrifice fly. The inning ended as Donadio singled to right but Cunningham was gunned down at the plate.

That run that didn’t score proved decisive, as Saint Peter’s responded with two runs off Joey Christopher and Joe Napolitano in the eighth to retake the lead. Caruso nearly gunned down the runner from right field, but he just beat out the throw at the plate. Saint Peter’s faced the minimum in the eighth and ninth to hand St. John’s just its third home loss of the season.

“We didn’t pitch pretty well, we had enough runs to win, and we gave some things away,” Blankmeyer said.