Last season the Red Storm players were vagabonds, looking for a home field, while it’s diamond was being upgraded.
The team struggled with the constant travel over the entire year and did not qualify for the Big East Tournament. It finished 29-22, 8-15 in the Big East. St. John’s started this season on the road, dreaming about a sweet homecoming.
The home was christened over St. Patrick’s day weekend in splendid fashion, beating Big East rival Connecticut, two out of three games.In the first game, the Huskies jumped out to a three run lead in the first, and held on for a 3-2 victory. Marc Goldberg was the hard-luck loser, pitching a complete game, allowing ten hits and three unearned runs.
The Red Storm offense was held in check by Patrick Sperone, who matched Goldberg pitch for pitch. Sperone also pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits and two earned runs.
In the nightcap, the Red Storm offense exploded against the Huskies, winning 8-3. St. John’s pounded Husky pitching for 15 hits. The barrage was led by Billy Graiser, Mike Rozema, and Charlie Bilezikjian, who combined for six hits and three RBI.
Geno Orsogna pitched 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win and Ryan Kyle notched his first collegiate save for the Red Storm.
On Sunday, the Red Storm received both strong pitching and hitting in a 7-6 victory. St. John’s jumped on Husky starter Jeff Fulchino for six runs in the first two innings. Rozema, Bilezikjian, and Chris Fallon combined for five hits, six runs scored, and two RBI.
Fallon was the catalyst for the offensive explosion. In his three plate appearances, Fallon had a hit, walked and scored twice, and drove in a run.
His performance pleased Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer. “I was happy, [but] that’s his job. [He’s] got to produce.” Fallon agreed with Blankmeyer’s assessment. “I got the big hit with runners on. I was seeing the ball well.” He continued, “I had a little comeback.”
The Red Storm offense was superbly aided by the pitching of Tom Klemm. The sophomore gave Blankmeyer seven solid innings. “[He] had a bad second inning. As the innings increased, he pitched well,” Blankmeyer said.
Klemm was non-committal about his start. “Control was lacking toward the middle part of the game, [I] settled down toward the later part of the game,” he said.
Blankmeyer, Fallon, and Klemm all agreed about what taking the series meant.
“It’s nice taking two out of three, [it’s] most important to take games,” Blankmeyer said.
“It was important coming in here. The real season [Big East] counts. We try to take two out of three,” emphasized Fallon. Klemm said, “It’s our objective. If we win two of three, we go to the Big East Tournament.” And judging by what had happened over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so far so good.
SERIES NOTESAfter the series, St. John’s is 6-8 and 2-1 in the Big East this season. UConn is 3-12 and 1-2 in the conference. St. John’s leads the all-time series 44-39. St.John’s has taken three game sets against UConn in three of the last four seasons.
Centerfielder Charlie Bilezikjian has made the preliminary list of players for the Rotary Smith award. The Rotary Smith award is given to the nation’s best collegiate baseball player.
In the game on March 18, UConn’s Cy Hess hit the first collegiate home run at The Ballpark. It was a shot to rightfield.
St. John’s next Big East home game comes on April 7, when it takes on Boston College at noon.