Feb. 28, 2008
ROCK HILL, S.C. - The No. 24 Red Storm baseball team defeated Kent State, 9-4, in the opening game of the Coca-Cola Classic to win its fifth straight game. St. John's (5-0) is off to its best start since a 5-0 start in 1992. Carlos Del Rosario set the tone with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first and three Red Storm pitchers combined to allow just six hits and two runs.
Jared Yecker (1-0) made his first start of the season and earned the win after pitching 4.0 innings and allowing just one run on two hits. Yecker retired the first five batters he faced and finished with five strikeouts. After relieving Yecker, Nick Cenatiempo tallied five strikeouts in just 3.0 innings of work and allowed just one run.
The Red Storm got off to another quick start as the squad scored first for the fifth consecutive time by plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning. After Brian Kemp singled to lead off the inning, Del Rosario belted a two-run home run over the right field fence to give St. John's a 2-0 lead.
Kent State closed to within 2-1 in the fourth. With one out, Yecker walked Anthony Gallas and then induced a groundout that moved Gallas to second. Jason Patton then singled through the right side to plate Gallas.
The Red Storm, however, came right back with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Greg Hopkins led off with a double to pick up his first career hit and Joe Witkowski followed with a single to plate Hopkins and give the Red Storm a 3-1 lead.
St. John's proceeded to open up the game in the fifth inning by plating four runs. After Paul Karmas led off with a single and Gil Zayas walked, the Golden Flashes went to the bullpen and brought in Justin Gill. Jeff Grantham laid down a sacrifice bunt that was bobbled by the third baseman to load the bases and Hopkins followed with a walk to bring in Karmas. Witkowski singled to plate Zayas and Gino Matias and Kemp each followed with sacrifice flies.
Kent State scored another run in the sixth as Doug Sanders and Ben Klafczynski put together back-to-back doubles to open the inning.
The bottom of the sixth brought in another run for the Red Storm as Chris Anninos was hit by a pitch and stole second. After reaching third on a passed ball, Anninos scored on a sacrifice fly by Zayas. St. John's plated a run in the seventh as well after Witkowski reached on an error by the first baseman that also allowed him to advance to second. Witkowski moved to third on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a triple by Kemp.
Luis Monell entered in the eighth to make his first appearance of the season and allowed two unearned runs in 2.0 innings of work.
Karmas had two hits, while Kemp and Witkowski each had two hits and two RBI to lead the Red Storm.
Notes: Hopkins made his first career start and scored two runs and had an RBI ... St. John's had three sacrifice flies.