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

Baseball struggles before rain

Before the weekend’s rain washed out the final game of the Keith LeClair Classic, Red Storm baseball weathered some storms of their own.

Despite using the long ball to grab a 3-0 lead in Game 1 against East Carolina, St. John’s was overpowered and lost 9-7. The pitching woes continued in the nightcap of the doubleheader and the Storm suffered an 8-4 defeat at the hands of the College of Charleston.

“The best way to talk about our pitching is that it’s a work in progress,” head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “There’s enough quality in this group, it’s just a matter of establishing themselves more than anything else and having the confidence to compete and be successful at this level.”

A two-run homerun by Tim Morris, who made the Big East honor roll this week, and an RBI single by Greg Hopkins gave St. John’s (2-3) an early lead against ECU, which was promptly erased by two Pirate homeruns in the second inning. East Carolina took a 6-3 lead in the fifth and chased St. John’s starter Nick Cenatiempo from his second start of the season.

The Johnnies briefly tied the game after catcher Danny Benedetti launched his first homer of the season, scoring Joe Panik and Hopkins, both on base by way of singles. However, a sacrifice fly gave the Pirates the lead for good after two singles and a walk given up by freshman Eddie Medina (0-1).

Blankmeyer is using these early-season games to get a feel for his pitching staff as far as who is right for the job. Yet, the gaudy numbers in the opponents’ box score don’t have the 14th-year coach worried.

“Pitching defines our program,” he said. “It always has. It’s our job to find out who is going to fill the roles. We’re still in that mode. We’re still trying to find that. There’s certainly enough quality there. It’s just inexperience. How do you get experience? Well, you gotta pitch.”

St. John’s got off to a rough start in the nightcap, against thanks to homerun. Red Storm starter Brendan Lobban got tagged twice in the first inning, giving Charleston a 3-0 lead.

Morris continued his early-season power surge in the third with a solo home run. The junior first baseman tried to spurn a comeback in the fifth with a two-run shot, his third of the doubleheader, into dead centerfield.

The wind was blowing out in the park at Greenville, N.C., but Blankmeyer said Morris’ homeruns “would have been out in any park.”

“I was a lot more patient this past weekend,” Morris said. “I got myself in good hitter’s counts and got good pitches to hit. I’m more relaxed this season.”

Hitting second in the batting order, Morris often has the benefit of batting while team captain Brian Kemp is on base. He says this undoubtedly helps his game because Kemp is always a threat to steal and distract the opposing pitcher.

Morris was named to the Big East honor roll after going 4-for-7 with five RBIs and four runs scored. With three homeruns, he has already matched his total from his sophomore season.

Offense has certainly not been hard to come by early on. The team’s batting average is .339 and Blankmeyer’s lineup is getting on base at a .412 clip. But some 2008 standouts such as Carlos Del Rosario and Paul Karmas have struggled at the plate.

“Statistically, you’re going to see some very glowing numbers,” Blankmeyer said of his team’s offense. “Like anything else, that will come back to reality. Also, one concerning point is there are some guys who haven’t gotten started yet.”

Those guys will get a chance to get back on track when the squad travels to Utah for a four game trip against BYU and Utah State this weekend.

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