Baseball downs Columbia, extends winning streak to 10

It was much closer game than it has been in recent years for the St. John’s baseball team, but it still beat the Columbia Lions, 10-5, Tuesday to increase its winning streak to 10 straight games.

Coming into the game, the Red Storm had won its last four games against the Lions and had outscored it 65-9 over those games. The Johnnies most recent victory, prior to Tuesday’s, was the 24-1 beating they gave Columbia last season.

The Lions, however, got some solid starting pitching out of right-hander Henry Perkins and took advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Red Storm to jump out to a 4-1 lead by the top of the fourth inning.

But Columbia pulled Perkins after the third inning after having only given up two hits paired with three strikeouts.

Red Storm head coach Ed Blankmeyer wasn’t surprised that Perkins was pulled and said that Columbia was probably saving him for conference play.

“I’ll tell you though, if that kid was in there we’d have been in for a little bit of a battle,” said Blankmeyer.

Blankmeyer himself decided to start Rich Armento, who usually sees time on the mound in a relief role. The decision proved questionable, as Armento pitched just 3.1 innings and gave up four runs on five hits. He was hit the hardest in the third, when the Lions tagged him for three runs off three hits – a single, a double and a triple.

“He hasn’t gotten as many opportunities as some of the other guys and we wanted to give him some time out in front,” Blankmeyer said. “He didn’t do a bad job. He got whacked around in that third inning. He got the ball up and Columbia can hit a little bit.”

But even while trailing to a team whose number they normal have, Blankmeyer and his Storm weren’t worrying in the dugout.
“We can score runs,” Blankmeyer said. “We weren’t fretting. We’ve been down three runs before, so [there was] plenty of baseball left.”

And when Max Lautmann took the mound for the Lions in the bottom of the fourth inning instead of Perkins, the Red Storm proved that it could score runs. First baseman Tim Morris ripped into an RBI triple to score Greg Hopkins, who had reached on an error. Catcher Joe Witkowski and second basemen Gino Matias hit consecutive singles – Witkowski’s scoring Morris. Junior Carlos Del Rosario’s two-out double knocked in Matias and gave the Red Storm a 5-4 lead.

Besides a one-two-three seventh, the Storm would score at least once in every inning after, including a three-run eighth highlighted by a Hopkins homerun.

Closer Colin Lynch was dominate once again and struck out the side in the top of the ninth to earn
the save.