Johnnies score 32 runs in three-game sweep of Villanova

The Red Storm baseball team can get used to this pattern.

For the past two years, St. John’s has claimed the Big East regular season crown, perhaps thanks to hot starts in the conference. They are at it again.

Over the weekend, the Storm swept the Big East opening series at home against Villanova with 19-7, 3-2 and 10-3 victories.

“From the start of the series, we look to win at home and get two out of three no matter what,” catcher Danny Benedetti said. “If you win three, it’s definitely going to add up in the end.”

In the series’ final game, it was Benedetti who produced the separation runs that lead to the win and the sweep. In the eighth inning with a slim 4-3 lead, the catcher looked for a ball to drive. He got his fastball and delivered a two-run RBI single up the middle.

Beside his offensive responsibilities, Benedetti has also been charged with the task of guiding the staff’s young pitchers during the game. He said there is a lot of talent, especially in the freshman class, but sometimes they lose the strike zone.

“My job is to just calm them down and get them back to where they started,” he said. “I just need to be a positive role model for them.”

Tim Morris continued to lead the Red Storm at the plate, coming through with another productive stretch of at-bats. The junior earned the Big East Player of the Week award after batting .600 (12-for-20) with a homerun and eight RBIs.

Morris opened the season with an 11-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 17 of 18 games, while adding 12 multi-hit games and six multi-RBI games.

There were many heroes to salute during St. John’s 32-run weekend. Head coach Ed Blankmeyer won’t have to worry about young pitchers if he can count on offensive production like this every weekend.

“It was a team effort,” Blankmeyer said.
“Anytime you can put up a big number changes the complexion of the game. Those guys did a great job.”

In the first game of the series, Brian Kemp went 5-for-5, Carlos Del Rosario belted four doubles and Jimmy Parque had four RBIs.

There wasn’t nearly as much offense in the second game, but the runs were the most dramatic of this young season.

Locked in a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth with two strikes, Del Rosario looked to bring Tim Morris home from third. At the end of a hard-fought at-bat, he blooped a single into left field, giving the Storm
the lead.

Ryan Cole picked up the win after striking out one and throwing two innings of
hitless baseball.

Despite some of the trepidation over the starting pitchers, Blankmeyer said the bullpen got the job done in St. John’s three wins over the weekend. The 3-2 victory on Saturday marked the 14th-year head coach’s 450th career win.

“It first starts with pitching,” Blankmeyer said. “We need Nick [Cenatiempo], we need Ryan [Cole], we need the back end of that bullpen. That was the difference in this series.”