It wasn’t until the seventh inning that everything came together for the St. John’s bats.
“We were sleep-walking through the first five [innings] and we weren’t in the game mentally,” St. John’s Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “Some of our approaches in the at-bats weren’t focused enough.”
After being held to only one run through six innings by Princeton starter Ross Staine, St. John’s scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Tigers 12-5. Lefty freshman reliever Sean Hagan notched his second career win after coming in for starting pitcher Eddie Medina in the sixth inning.
Staine, who entered his first collegiate start with an ERA over 9 and allowed two runs on five hits through six innings, had dominated St. John’s batters until the seventh. Princeton reliever Ryan Makis allowed a single and then a double to start the inning, and St. John’s took the lead when freshman outfielder Jeremy Baltz roped the go-ahead 2-RBI single through the left side of the infield.
“He’s been doing it all year long,” said left fielder Jimmy Brennan, who sliced a 2-RBI single of his own down the right field line earlier in the inning. “He’s the guy you want up in a late-game situation.”
The Red Storm (22-12, 7-5 Big East) hadn’t started chipping away at Princeton’s early 4-0 lead until the sixth inning. Following back-to-back base hits by Joe Panik and Baltz, the Red Storm took advantage of a defensive miscue when Princeton first baseman Steve Harrington fumbled a double play attempt. Panik, rounding second base, scored.
Hagan allowed only one earned run on two hits in three innings of relief while striking out six. The home run he allowed to Noel Gonzalez in the seventh inning, Brennan said, would not have gone out if the wind wasn’t blowing out.
“It was a fluke home run,” said Brennan, who was 1-for-4 with two RBI. “If the wind wasn’t blowing out, it would not have gone out. Hagan put on a great performance tonight. We needed him.”
After two flawless innings, Medina eventually struggled. Falling behind pitch counts and allowing early base runners, the sophomore allowed four earned runs in five innings on five hits.
Princeton secured an early 2-0 lead during the top of the fourth inning when, with one out and runners on second and third base, Medina threw a wild pitch in the dirt that allowed Princeton’s Nate Baird to score. Second baseman Matt Wessinger then fumbled a hard-hit ground ball, allowing Matt Connor to score.
Medina’s struggles continued the next inning. After allowing a leadoff base hit, the righty then balked. One batter later, Princeton catcher Sam Mulroy then extended the lead by smashing a 2-run homer.