ALONE AT THE TOP: St. John's Defeats Xavier, 8-6, To Win BIG EAST Regular Season Title Outright|
May 10, 2015
QUEENS, N.Y. - With St. John's having already clinched at least a share of its conference-record eighth BIG EAST regular season crown, Zach Lauricella and Tyler Sanchez combined for five RBI as the Red Storm defeated Xavier, 8-6, to win the title outright. Lauricella went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and three RBI to lead St. John's (32-14, 14-3), while Sanchez was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Matt Clancy (1-1) had four strikeouts in 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. Joe Forney finished 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI to pace Xavier (13-36, 2-13), while Joe Gellenbeck added two RBI. Reliever Zach Johnson (1-4) took the loss after allowing two runs in 1.0 inning.
Xavier used the long ball to grab a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Forney connected for a one-out, solo home run to left center.
St. John's answered with a run in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit. Alex Caruso was plunked to lead off the inning before Robert Wayman was also plunked to give the Red Storm runners on first and second. After a double steal, Lauricella made it 1-1 with a sacrifice fly.
The Red Storm took advantage of a leadoff walk and an error to grab a 3-1 lead in the second. Jarred Mederos worked the leadoff walk before Bret Dennis reached on a bunt single up the third baseline. Sanchez followed with an RBI single up the middle, but took second on the throw as Dennis advanced to third. Caruso then fouled out to the catcher, who made an errant attempt to throw behind Dennis at third and a run scored.
The Musketeers rallied with two outs to plate a run in the third. Will LaRue started the rally with a two-out triple before a Forney RBI single cut the Xavier deficit to 3-2.
St. John's then used the long ball to extend its lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the frame as Lauricella launched a one-out solo home run to left field.
Xavier, however, chased starter Chris Kalica and took the lead with a three-run fourth. Derek Hasenbeck led things off with a double before Andre Jernigan singled and Patrick Jones followed with an RBI double to send St. John's to the bullpen with runners on second and third with no outs. Joe Kuzia came on and Gellenbeck gave the Musketeers a 5-4 lead with a two-run single up the middle.
The Red Storm responded immediately and took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Sanchez blasted a solo home run to left field to lead off the inning and tie the game. Caruso then walked, but was caught stealing before Donadio extended the inning with a two-out walk. Lauricella then gave St. John's a 6-5 lead with an RBI double into the left field corner.
Xavier had runners on second and third with no outs in the eighth, but stranded both runners. A leadoff single and a walk chased Clancy from the game as St. John's went to Thomas Hackimer with runners on first and second and no outs. A balk advanced the runners, but Hackimer stranded both with a strikeout and two groundouts.
St. John's took advantage of an error to grab an insurance run in the eighth. After Sanchez reached on an error and advanced to second on the play, a Caruso sacrifice bunt gave the Red Storm a runner on third. Jesse Berardi followed with a sacrifice fly and St. John's took an 8-5 lead.
The Musketeers plated an unearned run in the ninth and stranded a pair as St. John's held on for the win. Forney and Nate Soria led off with back-to-back singles, but Hackimer responded with consecutive strikeouts. Jones then reached on an error as Forney came around to score, but Hackimer got a game-ending flyout to secure his 12th save.
St. John's continues an eight-game homestand on May 12 with a 6 p.m. game against Saint Peter's.