Feb. 28, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -
The St. John's baseball team rallied back from an early 4-0 deficit to defeat Illinois, 6-4, and close out play in the Big Ten-BIG EAST Challenge. Matt Wessinger was 1-for-2 with two RBI, while Jimmy Parque, Greg Hopkins and Paul Karmas had an RBI apiece to lead St. John's (6-0). Kyle Hansen (1-0) worked 2.1 scoreless innings to earn his first collegiate win. Michael Giller had two RBI, while Pete Cappetta and Brandon Hohl each had one for Illinois (1-2).
St. John's trailed for the first time this year as Illinois took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Matt Dittman walked to lead off the frame before Miguel Valcarcel, who racked up three strikeouts in the first inning, tallied two-straight strikeouts. Hohl, though, followed with an RBI single.
The Fighting Illini then took a 4-0 lead with a three-run fifth inning. Josh Parr doubled with one out to chase Valcarcel and St. John's went to Brendan Lobban. Willie Argo drew a walk before Lobban retired Aaron Johnson for the second out. The righty then plunked Dittman to load the bases and forced in a run with a walk to Cappetta. After Giller singled up the middle to plate two more runs, St. John's went to the bullpen again. Hansen entered and quickly retired Hohl to end the frame.
After being no-hit through the first four innings, St. John's collected six hits in a four-run fifth inning. Three-consecutive singles by Joe Panik, Jeremy Baltz and Sean O'Hare loaded the bases before an RBI single by Wessinger. Another run came home when Robert Case grounded into a double play before Scott Ferrara was plunked and Parque added an RBI single. Hopkins then tied the game with an RBI double to chase Johnson from the game.
St. John's took its first lead of the game with a run in the sixth. Panik and Baltz led off with consecutive singles for the second-straight inning before O'Hare advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Wessinger then plated a run with an RBI groundout.
Illinois threatened in the seventh, but was kept off the board. Argo drew a lead off walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Dittman then singled up the middle with one out, but Argo was thrown out at the plate before Hansen ended the inning with a strike out.
The Red Storm added a run in the bottom of the seventh after Ferrara was plunked to lead off the inning. Parque followed with a single and Illinois went to the bullpen. Ferrara then advanced to third on a fly out by Hopkins and Karmas added a sacrifice fly.
Daniel Burawa entered and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his second save in as many chances.
St. John's returns to action with a three-game set at East Tennessee State beginning on March 5.
Notes: The 6-0 start is tied for the best start in the Ed Blankmeyer Era ... the Red Storm also started 6-0 in 2008 ... St. John's is now 5-1 all-time in the Big Ten-BIG EAST Challenge ... Baltz and Parque have hit safely in all six games ... Parque has four multi-hit games.