Two-out hitting was the name of the game for St. John’s last night against Princeton, as the Red Storm managed to knock in half of their runs with their backs against the wall in the Johnnies 6-2 victory at Jack Kaiser Stadium last night.
“With two outs you can’t try to do too much,” said Gino Matias, who had a key two-RBI, two-out hit early in the game.
Starting pitcher Ryan Cole turned in a solid three innings for the Red Storm after two hits and an error allowed the first three batters to reach base. After a brief chat with head coach Ed Blankmeyer, Cole struck out the next two batters and forced David Hale to ground out to shortstop.
“We wanted him to calm down,” Blankmeyer said. “Nothing was hit hard and he came back and pounded the strike zone.”Cole didn’t allow another runner to reach base after the first for three innings of six-strikeout ball.
“I thought everyone pitched pretty well,” Blankmeyer said.
St. John’s got the scoring started in the bottom of the third inning when Joe Witkowski, who reached first on a fielders choice, advanced to third base when Princeton’s Dan DeGeorge botched Scott Ferrara’s grounder to second. Ferrara advanced to second on the play and Matias recorded two RBIs with a line drive to right field.
“Coach told me not to do too much,” Matias said. “I went up there, stayed focused and got a two-out hit. When push comes to shove you need to get something done with two outs.”
Princeton struck back quickly in the top of the fourth when David Hale drove in Jack Murphy, who was advanced to third by Spencer Lucian following Murphy’s lead off double.
The Red Storm got the run right back in the bottom half of the inning after an error on the pitcher allowed Gil Zayas to reach home safely.
But with two men on and no outs Princeton was able to bear down with a strikeout and a fielder’s choice at home to get out of the jam.
Wild pitching from Princeton relief pitcher Matt Webb – who tossed just 2/3 of an inning and allowed three walks – allowed St. John’s to bring across three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to push the score to 6-1.
A leadoff walk to Gil Zayas and two sacrifice flies plated the Johnnies first run, and St. John’s struck again with two outs, staging a small rally thanks in large part to another walk and an RBI triple by Carlos Del Rosario.
A double steal brought across St. John’s last run of the sixth. “You gotta get some two-out hits,” Blankmeyer said. “It breaks the back of the other team and really helps to open up the game.”
The Red Storm used Nick Cenatiempo, Rich Armento and Luis Monell to close the game last three innings. They combined for four strikeouts and one hit.