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Big East in the Big Leagues: Panik-ing and Grilling

Highlighted by some hot hitting from Joe Panik and lights out pitching from Jason Grilli, the alums of the Big East had a strong week overall.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Panik (St. John's)

The Giants second baseman had a scalding week, helping his squad to a 5-2 mark in the last seven days. Panik swatted his way to a sensational slash line (.357/.419/.429), driving in four runs and scoring six in the process. Of course, the infielder still hasn't gotten much in terms of power, with two doubles his only extra base hits of the week. Of his 46 hits this season, only 14 have gone for bonus bases. With that said, Panik has lifted his average to .293, which is the seventh best mark among qualified hitters in the San Francisco lineup, which ranks third in the majors in team batting average (.274).

Panik is also having an excellent week because of his Alma mater's run to the Big East Championship.

Jason Grilli (Seton Hall)

Grilli served up a few GRILLED CHEESES this past week. The veteran right-hander appeared in three games and pitched a scoreless inning in each one. That included a masterful job against Milwaukee on Sunday. Grilli came in with the Braves clinging to a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning. He stuck out the side, sending Carlos Gomez down looking and Adam Lind and Elian Herrera swinging. It was quite the dicing up of the middle of the Brewers' lineup for Grilli, who is striking out 13.5 batters per nine innings. The shutout week drove Grilli's ERA down to 4.11, the lowest it has been since May 5. His FIP has fallen to 2.36 as well, which is the lowest it has been since his 2013 All-Star campaign. Oh, and he has 13 saves on the season, tied for fifth in baseball.

Pat Neshek (Butler)

The former Big East roster would have a nice little one-two punch in the bullpen with Grilli and Neshek. While Grilli had a productive week, Neshek spent a bit more time contemplating the meaning of life, or whatever it is bullpen pitchers do while waiting to get in the game. The Houston sidewinder only threw 1 2/3 innings across two games during the last seven days. He allowed one hit and no runs in that limited sample size, as his ERA continues to plummet, falling to 2.70. It is a much better mark than he had in April, when it fluctuated in the fours and fives. When Neshek does pitch, it is usually a good sign for Houston, which is 18-2 when he makes an appearance.

Darin Ruf (Creighton)

Utility is defined as the state of being useful, profitable or beneficial. Ruf is a utility player for the Phillies, but how useful, profitable or beneficial has he been? If you tuned in last week, you know the answer is not very. Ruf did a bit better this week, going 3-for-6 in two starts, although he went hitless in two pinch-hit chances. The Phillies went 1-3 in the four games Ruf saw action in. What is kind of incredible is the fact that Ruf's 3-for-8 week drove his batting average up by over 20 points (.203 to .224). Of his three hits, two were doubles, which pushed his slugging percentage to an even .400, its highest mark since May 5.

Amir Garrett (St. John's)

When we last checked in with Garrett, a former basketball player, he was pitching for the Single A Daytona Tortugas. The 23-year-old is still wearing green and is having a nice season. He went 1-1 with a 3.37 ERA in two starts this past week, including a gem against Jupiter (6 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 6 SO). He has struck out 42 batters in 41 2/3 innings and is 1-4 with a 2.81 ERA overall.

Danny Burawa (St. John's)

With a bullpen featuring Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, the Yankees have some electric arms in the bullpen. They also have some in the minor leagues, with Burawa one of them. The 26-year-old has been a force for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and his work over the last seven days has been spectacular. He threw 1 2/3 shutout innings against Charlotte last Tuesday and then threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings against Durham on Friday, although he did walk four batters in that contest. Burawa has a 1.50 ERA in 18 games (24 IP) this season. He hasn't given up an earned run in nine of his last 10 outings.

Matt Szczur (Villanova)

After being sent back down to the minors on May 16, Szczur made his way back to Triple A Iowa. The Cape May native went 4-for-4 in his second game back in the minors, and is batting a solid .305 overall. He did have a scare over the weekend however, as he was hit in the hand by a pitch on Saturday. According to the Des Moines Register, Szczur's x-rays came back negative, but he did not play on Sunday and was limited to a single at bat on Monday against Reno.

Before we go, a hearty congratulations to the St. John's Red Storm for winning the Big East Championship over the weekend. We'll see you back here next week.