The Red Storm (28-9, 11-4) continued their Big East success by bashing their way to an 11-8 road victory over Pittsburgh (12-23, 4-11) on Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s victory was the fifth straight series victory against a conference rival this year.
Starter Jared Yecker struggled through his 4.2 innings of work, allowing six runs, four earned, on six hits and five walks. Matt Tosoni (4-0) earned the win in relief, as the senior slowed the Pittsburgh bats, holding the Panthers to two runs over 3.2 innings.
The pitching was bailed out by a Red Storm offense that pounded out 10 hits, including two home runs. Scott Ferrara and Gil Zayas were at the head of the attack, combining for the two homers and five RBI.
On Friday night, the Johnnies were stunned by the Panthers, 6-3, after starter Scott Barnes allowed five runs in five innings of work. Pittsburgh starter Nate Reed registered the best performance by a Panther pitcher over the weekend, allowing just three runs on six hits in 7.1 innings of work.
“In baseball, its all about the guy on the mound, that kid [Reed] threw very well,” head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “You have to tip your cap to him.”
Saturday was a different story, as the pitching tables turned in favor of St. John’s. Starting pitcher George Brown went seven innings and allowed two runs in a 7-4 Red Storm victory.
Every starter had a hit for the Johnnies, with Chris Anninos and Greg Hopkins emerging as the offense stars of the game. Anninos smashed two homers and drove in three while Hopkins added a homerun of his own and drove in two runs.
“We play every game the same whether it’s against a Big East team or any other team we play,” Blankmeyer said. “We play to win, that’s the bottom line.”
The Johnnies currently sit a game behind first place Notre Dame (25-10-1, 12-3) in the conference standings. But St. John’s will have its chance to take over first place this weekend when they head up to Eck Stadium for a three game set against the Fighting Irish.
“They’re a very good team, they have that experience on the mound,” Blankmeyer said. “They play a little different now, with [head coach] Dave Schrage, they’re more of a speed and action team, they know how to play.”
The series comes at an exciting time for both teams, as the Irish find themselves ranked No. 24 in the country after winning 12 of their last 13 games, while the Johnnies have salivated at the sight of any Big East foe.
“Sometimes it all comes down to when you catch a team and Notre Dame happens to be playing very well right now,” Blankmeyer said. “It’s going to be a very good match up.”