No. 20 St. John's Drops Regular Season Finale, 9-6, to Villanova|
May 20, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. - Needing a win to capture its league-record ninth BIG EAST Regular Season title, the No. 20 St. John's Red Storm surrendered the final five runs of Saturday's contest as Villanova played the spoiler with a 9-6 win at Jack Kaiser Stadium to close out the regular season.
St. John's (40-9, 13-5) will be the two seed in next week's BIG EAST Tournament and will take on Xavier in the opening game on Thursday, May 25, at 3:30 p.m. ET. Despite winning two fewer conference contests than the Red Storm, Creighton (23-23, 11-4), who had three league games rained out this year, captured the regular season crown. After having two contests rained out following a loss in the series opener to Xavier at the end of last month, Creighton saw its Saturday finale canceled against Butler. Entering the day, either a St. John's win or a Bluejay loss would have sealed the regular season crown for the Red Storm.
Anthony Brocato led the way for the Red Storm, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, two walks and pair of runs scored. Michael Donadio also registered a multi-hit game for the Johnnies and reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks.
The Red Storm wasted no time getting on the board, plating three runs in the bottom of the first to take an early lead. Valente and Donadio led off the frame with back-to-back singles off Villanova ace Hunter Schryver. Following a Berardi strikeout for the inning's first out, Brocato ripped a two-bagger down the left field line, scoring Valente and moving Donadio to third. After a Gui Gingras grounder to second scored Valente and moved Brocato to third, the junior right fielder came around to score on a passed ball, making it 3-0 Johnnies after just an inning.
The Wildcats quickly responded in the ensuing frame, plating four runs in the top of the second to make it 4-3 in favor of the visitors.
Villanova nearly poured it on in the top of the third, loading the bases with one out before Joe Kelly forced a fly ball to shallow center and a pop-out to Troy Dixon behind the plate to quell the threat and keep the Red Storm within a run.
Following Kelly's escape act, the bats broke loose in the home half of the inning. After Donadio drove the first pitch of the frame into right field for a single, Berardi sent a ball off the bag at third and into left field, taking two bases and giving the Red Storm runners on second and third with no outs. Next up to the plate was Brocato, who singled through the left side to score a pair and put the Johnnies back ahead by one, 5-4. Following back-to-back outs and a walk from Dixon to move Brocato into scoring position, Knightes singled past the shortstop to bring home Brocato and make it 6-4 St. John's after three.
Ryan McAuliffe entered the game for the Red Storm to start the fourth and limited the Wildcats to just a pair of base runners over the next three frames on a walk and a hit by pitch.
The Wildcats finally answered in the seventh, stringing together two singles and a pair of walks to push across three runs and move ahead 7-6 at the stretch.
Following a scoreless home half of the seventh, Villanova added two more runs in the eighth, extending their lead to three, 9-6.
St. John's will begin BIG EAST Tournament play on Thursday, facing off against Xavier at 3:30 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park. All opening round games will be carried on the BIG EAST Digital Network before the championship is broadcast on FS2.