Winning Weekend

St. John’s baseball continued to move up the ladder in the Big East, as the Red Storm swept Villanova in three games at home over the weekend. The Johnnies capped the weekend by blowing through the Wildcats 9-2 on Saturday to secure the sweep.

Although St. John’s was the preseason pick to win the Big East, they are currently ranked third in the conference at 6-3. The Red Storm, however, has been on the rise since March 9, amassing a 13-3 record overall after starting 3-8.

“You like to sweep [your opponent], but you don’t like to get swept,” coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “If you get swept, you lose ground.”

Saturday’s contest against Villanova helped the Johnnies continue to establish their identity as the team that belongs at the top of the conference, which came after St. John’s won a three-game series against conference-leading Rutgers last week.
Starting pitcher George Brown was strong through seven innings for the Red Storm, keeping St. John’s in the game until their offense was able to kick it into high gear in the fifth inning. Brown kept Villanova guessing, holding the Wildcats to seven hits and just two runs while striking out six in his seven innings pitched.

‘Nova opened the scoring in the second inning as they put together four consecutive hits to manufacture two runs. That is all that Brown would allow them, however, as he and the St. John’s defense buckled down to get out of the inning without any further damage.

St. John’s knotted the score in the bottom of the inning with help from a Gino Matias sacrifice fly and a Brian Kemp double. After three tightly played innings the Red Storm broke out in the bottom of the fifth, plating six runs on five hits and taking advantage of three Villanova errors.

Anthony Smith started the scoring for St. John’s with a one- out solo homer to right center. The Red Storm then took advantage of three hits, three throwing errors and a wild pitch before ‘Nova secured the second out of the inning on an RBI sacrifice fly by Brian Kemp. St. John’s would tack on two more runs with two outs before Smith flied out to end the inning.

St. John’s would score another insurance run in the sixth and Ryan Cole came in for two innings to secure the victory for the Johnnies, pitching scoreless two-hit ball.

Despite the big win, St. John’s is still keeping its focus on improving.

“We still have a long way to go,” Blankmeyer said.

St. John’s 4, Villanova 3
The Red Storm edged Villanova Thursday, taking the second game of a doubleheader. St. John’s fought from behind late in the game to and got clutch hitting from Gil Zayas in the eighth to sweep the doubleheader.

Villanova struck first in the fourth inning with a two-run double and added another run in the fifth to put the Wildcats up 3-0. St. John’s fought back in the bottom of sixth and seventh innings, however, notching one run in each frame to cut the deficit to one.

After Brian Kemp led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, Sam DeLuca reached base with an infield hit. Zayas, who is batting .354 on the season, came through with a clutch double to score two runs and give the Red Storm the lead. Colin Lynch earned his sixth save of the season after coming into the game in the ninth and securing the victory.

“We hung in there and took advantage of some opportunities,” Blankmeyer said. “It’s a good win when we come from behind.”

St. John’s 16, Villanova 9
St. John’s defeated Villanova in the first game of a doubleheader at Jack Kaiser Stadium, pulling off the victory in a high scoring game that left scorecards messy.

After scoring ten runs in the first two innings, Zayas and Smith added RBIs in the third to increase the lead to 12-2. St. John’s allowed their play to falter in the top of the fifth, as ‘Nova added five runs to bring the deficit to only five.

Villanova added another two runs in the next inning, but it was all that St. John’s would allow them, as the Red Storm would continue its offensive barrage by adding runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.