In their first Big East series of the season, the Red Storm made quick work of Butler, sweeping the Bulldogs in Indianapolis, but they returned to earth during the week that followed, splitting games against LIU Brooklyn and Columbia. Enter Seton Hall, who came into last weekend with wins in nine straight games and their sights set on leaving Queens with first place in its possession. Here's how things turned out.
Game One: St. John's 5, Seton Hall 1
It is not always the case, but St John's punched its meal ticker with its pitching in the opener. In a day marred by clouds, starting pitcher Cody Stashak shone brightly. He worked his way through six innings, allowing just four hits and a single run, while striking out five. He stumbled in the first, allowing a run, but went on to face a total of 23 batters, while consistently working the strike zone to keep the Seton Hall batters guessing.
St John's never had a big inning in support of Stashak, although it did have twice as many hits as the Pirates (10-5). Instead of big scoring binges, the Red Storm settled for consistency, scoring a single run in each of the first three innings. Big East batting leader Alex Caruso was a pest out of the leadoff spot, hitting safely three times and walking once, while scoring three runs. Robbie Knightes only had one hit in the game, but he drove in two runs on a ground out and a fielder's choice, while Tyler Sanchez made the most of his one hit, sending a solo home run to left.
Joe Poduslenko was the only player for Seton Hall that seemed to have brought his bat on Friday, as he stroked three hits in four at bats, although not a one went for extra bases. Zach Prendergast didn't pitch horribly as the starter, but he fell victim to six hits and four runs, three earned, before being pulled after four plus innings.
Game Two: St. John's 7, Seton Hall 4
Saturday's game figured to give Seton Hall a real shot at grabbing a win, as Big East ERA leader Shane McCarthy took the hill for the Pirates. The right-hander did not have his best stuff, however, as his ERA ballooned from 0.99 to 1.83 following a start in which he allowed six runs, four earned, over just three innings. To be fair, the Red Storm's starter Ryan McCormick didn't exactly look like Pedro in '99 either, allowing three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Red Storm carried McCormick to the victory, as the team combined for 13 hits, compared to only six for the Pirates. Troy Dixon enjoyed a career-day, blasting off for his first career home run, while driving in a career-high five runs. Now that's what I call a designated hitter, which was the spot Dixon filled in the lineup. Dixon had plenty of RBI opportunities, as he batted seventh, with four of the six batters before him getting two hits apiece.
Poduslenko (2-for-5) was the only Pirate to have a multi-hit day, while three-hole hitter Zack Weigel had a rough game, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Game Three: Seton Hall 19, St. John's 4
Weigel, and the rest of the Pirates for that matter, let out their frustrations in Sunday's finale and it was not a pretty sight for the boys in red. Weigel drove in four runs from the leadoff spot, while Sal Annunziata woke up from an offensive slumber to mash his way to a 4-for-5 day, which included a home run, three RBI and four runs scored. Ryan Ramiz got in on the action as well, picking up two hits and four RBI as a pinch hitter. All in all, the offensive eruption equated to the biggest run output for Seton Hall in a Big East game since 2004, when they pasted Villanova 20-0.
Not a single pitcher had much luck for St. John's as starter Chris Kalica (3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER) was one of seven pitchers to let up at least one run in the blowout loss.
Despite the drubbing in the finale, St. John's is still in excellent position after two weekends of league play. The Red Storm are 18-12 overall and tied with Creighton, which it faces in Omaha next weekend, for first in the Big East (5-1). Seton Hall (17-12, 4-2) is right behind that pace, with four-straight games at home looming, including next weekend's series against Butler.