After finishing their month long slate of games in the warmcomfort of the South, St. John’s came home only to see their fieldcovered in snow, postponing Tuesday’s home opener against Hofstra.SJU, however had their solid performance during their series winover UNC-Ashville to hang their winter coats on.
SJU’s brightest moment came in the series finale as senior JimWladyka threw six innings of one hit ball helping the Red Storm toa 7-1 series clinching win.
“We talked about how the last couple of years when we struggledwhen we went down South,” Wladyka said. “But this year we turned itaround a little bit. We’re playing good baseball.”
Wladyka, after struggling in the first by walking Matt Roberts,who eventually stole second and scored on a David Williams’ single,was perfect through the next five. The junior righthander retired13 straight batters before surrending a single in the seventh.
“I had a good feel for my pitches,” he said. “I was throwing myfast ball in and out well, getting ahead with my breaking ball andusing my slider as my out-pitch a lot. I had a lot of quickouts.”
Wladyka finished the game yielding only one run on two hitswhile striking out two in six innings of work.
The SJU offense gave Wladyka all the run support he neededearly, knocking home three runs in the first three innings. The bigblow came in the third when junior P.J. Antoniato hit his thirdhomerun of the year driving a shot into the wind that hooked aroundthe left field foul pole giving the Red Storm a 3-1 lead.
“P.J. Antoniato has been a creature of bad luck,” Blankmeyersaid about his second baseman who sports just a .246 average. “Hehas hit a lot of line drives that have been caught.”
SJU added two insurance runs in the fifth on singles by EddieShutlz and Greg Thomson. Shultz’s seventh inning homer, his secondof the season, and a Martin single, capped a game in which the topsix batters in the SJU lineup went 11-23 with six runs scored andsix RBI.
Relievers Anthony Sullivan, Rob Delaney and Craig Hanson pitchedthree and one third scoreless innings to close out theBulldogs.
“It’s important to get a win,” Blankmeyer said. “We could havewon all of them.”
SJU’s lone loss in the series came in the opener. After rallyingto take a 6-5 lead in the ninth on singles by Blake Hershleman andDe Rosa, the Red Storm could not hold the lead.
With runners on the corners with one out Roberts hit a short hopgroundball to third, but he beat out Derek Sullivan’s throw tofirst allowing Nick Jaksa to score tying the game.
After SJU had a chance to win the game in the top of the tenth,Bulldog’s senior Steven Sherman hit a one-out solo homerun in the10th, sealing the win.
A day later, the Red Storm ended their four game losing streakbehind the bat of Hershelman and the arms of Matt Tosoni and GeneOrsogna. Hershelman who is batting .440 with four homeruns, two ofwhich came in this game.
“Blake’s locked in,” the eight-year head coach said. “He’s usingthe whole field and putting a good swing on strikes.
SJU got four runs in the seventh on singles by Antoniato,Thompson, and Shultz as well as a ground out by Martin.
After Joe Reid was knocked out early Tosoni came on to give theJohnnies five and one third innings of solid relief allowing justone run on four hits. Orsogna threw two and a third innings ofscoreless baseball to earn his second career save.
There was, however, no saving the Storm’s home opener as a glazeof white covered the green grass.
“That’s baseball in the North East,” Blankmeyer said.
SJU will face The Pride this Friday at 3 p.m. at The Ballpark atSt. John’s.
Red Storm winSt. John’s 6 UNC-Asheville 7
2 of 3 then fallSt. John’s 9 UNC-Asheville 7
Victim to the SnowSt. John’s 7 UNC-Asheville 1