The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

View this profile on Instagram

The Torch (@sju_torch) • Instagram photos and videos

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Jojo Siwa
Jojo Siwa’s Bad Karma
Catherine Pascal, Staff Writer • May 3, 2024
Torch Photo / Anya Geiling
Live Show Spotlight: Roger Eno
Anya Geiling, Contributing Writer • April 30, 2024
Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson
Speed Dating Your Prospective Professors
Isabella Acierno, Outreach Manager • April 29, 2024

Season ends with record 41 wins

Anthony Sullivan had not pitched a single complete game in his two years at St. John’s, but he picked as good a time as any to hurl his first one.

The St. John’s sophomore right-hander shut down fourth-seeded Ohio State in the loser’s bracket of the Corvallis, Ore. Regional of the NCAA Tournament on June 5 in a 7-1 win, a victory that would send the Red Storm to the Regional Championship game to face host and top-seeded Oregon State.

First baseman Chris Joachim had a home run and two RBI in the victory and center fielder Greg Thomson added two RBI of his own.

The win, in which Sullivan only gave up one earned run on six hits and struck out eight, gave St. John’s its 41st win of the season — the highest total ever for the school in a single season.

“[Sullivan] has such good stuff when he’s on,” St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “He dominated the game. We knew it was in the bag with him throwing like that.”

The Red Storm would end up losing badly in the Regional Championship to the No. 3-ranked Beavers 19-3 later that night, but the team’s second consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament makes them the only Northeast school to accomplish that feat.

St. John’s trek to Oregon did not begin easily.

The team, on the bubble to host a regional at the Ballpark at St. John’s, lost two straight games and was eliminated quickly from the Big East Tournament, effectively ending their chances to host what would be the only regional that has ever taken place at a Northeast school.

The elimination from the conference tournament only meant the then-No. 25 Red Storm would not host the regional and not get as good of a seed in the tournament — but the luck of the draw had them travelling nearly 3,000 miles across the United States to Oregon, a trip that included a three-hour layover in Los Angeles and a long bus ride from the airport to Corvallis.

“The jet lag didn’t effect us [though],” Blankmeyer said.

During the trip, the team found out their ace, Anthony Varvaro, would not pitch at all in the tournament after sustaining a tear in his MCL, an injury that would require him to have Tommy John surgery and keep him out for about a calender year.

Without the team’s best starting pitcher, coach Ed Blankmeyer decided to start his closer, All-American Craig Hansen, in the first game of the regional against Virginia.

“To win the regional, we thought we would have to win three in a row,” Blankmeyer said, in response to why he chose Hansen to start the first game. “[Hansen’s] been conditioned to do this. Who’s to say we’d even get to him [as a closer].”

Hansen, who was later selected by the Boston Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the MLB draft on June 7, did not have his best stuff in the game against the Cavaliers, but the Storm scored five runs for him and the hard-throwing righty pitched seven strong innings to get the win in what was his first start in two seasons.

Shortstop P.J. Antoniato had three RBI and right fielder Will Vogl added three hits and drove in a run in the Storm’s regional-opening win.

The victory against Virginia set up the Johnnies first date with Oregon State, an 11-1 mauling in a game started by senior Jim Wladyka.

St. John’s really never did stand much of a chance against one of the best teams in the country on their home field, especially without their best starting pitcher.

“They had the ingredients to win a national championship,” Blankmeyer said.

After Sullivan’s gem, Anthony Smith, a sophomore transfer from George Washington, started the Regional Championship game and did not make it out of what would be a 13-run second innings for Oregon State in front of a raucous crowd of 2,532 Beavers supporters.

Smith did not make a pitching appearance in Big East play this season and was only used as a starter because of the thin St. John’ pitching staff brought upon by the loss of Varvaro.

“We went into there with our ace pitcher out,” Blankmeyer said.

Added Blankmeyer: “The strength of our program this year was our pitching.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. John's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Comments (0)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *