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2017 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Vanderbilt defeats St. John’s to open play in Clemson

Things were going so well for the Red Storm, until they weren’t

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arkansas vs Virginia Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

For the first four and a half innings of play Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Clemson Regional, things were going so well for the St. John’s Red Storm.

Thanks to timely hitting by Michael Donadio and John Valente, St. John’s had a 3-1 lead, while ace Sean Mooney was cruising right along.

Then, the bottom fell out.

Mooney gave up back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the fifth, which is never a good sign. Vanderbilt third baseman Will Toffey made him pay almost instantly, sending a three-run home run to left-center and giving the Commodores a 4-3 lead. Mooney then allowed three straight singles, the last of which drove in a run, before being pulled. Joe LaSorsa did all he could to limit the damage, but after a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly, Vanderbilt had the lead up to 7-3 after their six-run inning.

They weren’t done, though. LaSorsa made an error on a sac bunt in the sixth inning leading to another run, and Vandy tacked on yet another with a sac fly to go up 9-3.

The bottom of the seventh saw LaSorsa give up back-to-back singles before getting removed in favor of Joe Kelly. Kelly recorded an out, walked Toffey, then recorded another out, as it looked like he might get out of the inning without any damage. Vandy had other plans though, as two straight singles up the middle tacked on four more runs to put the ‘Dores up 13-3. They had scored 12 unanswered runs in a three-inning span.

St. John’s would get one back in the ninth, but it was far too little too late.

The Red Storm now face the loser of Friday night’s Clemson-UNC Greensboro game in the elimination bracket as they look to keep their season alive.

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