May 26, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Kyle Hansen allowed just one run in 7.1 innings as St. John's advanced to the BIG EAST Championship Finals for the third-straight season with a 2-1 win against Notre Dame. Kyle Richardson and Jeremy Baltz had an RBI apiece to lead St. John's (36-21), while Matt Wessinger, Frank Schwindel and Danny Bethea were each 2-for-4. Hansen (4-5) racked up seven strikeouts, while scattering five hits to earn the win. Eric Jagielo was 1-for-3 with a solo home to lead Notre Dame (30-27), while reliever Steve Sabatino (0-1) took the loss after allowing one run in 0.1 innings.
Hansen retired six-straight to open the game before allowing a leadoff single in the third. The righty, however, induced a lineout double play and a groundout to end the inning before adding a 1-2-3 fourth frame to face the minimum through four innings.
St. John's then loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and took a 1-0 lead. After Sean O'Hare set the table with a leadoff single, Bethea followed with a one-out single before Bret Dennis was plunked to load the bases. Richardson then lifted a sacrifice fly into centerfield and the Red Storm led 1-0.
Notre Dame threatened in the bottom of the fifth as a pair of singles set up runners on first and third with two outs, but Hansen induced an infield foulout to strand both runners and keep the Irish off the board.
St. John's chased Pat Connaughton in the seventh, but could not score. Pinch hitter Pat Talbut led off with a single, but a sacrifice bunt was popped up and caught by the onrushing first baseman and turned into a double play. Dennis followed with a single and Notre Dame went to the bullpen for Sabatino, who ended the inning with a flyout.
Notre Dame then used the long ball to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh as Jagielo led off the inning with a solo home run to right field. Hansen, however, responded by quickly retiring the next three batters.
The Red Storm responded immediately, loading the bases with no outs to retake the lead in the eighth. After Jimmy Brennan singled to lead off the inning, Wessinger beat out a bunt single to set up runners on first and second and Notre Dame went to the bullpen for Sean Fitzgerald. Schwindel then sent a grounder to short, but Wessinger beat out the throw to second as Schwindel reached first to load the bases. Baltz then lifted a sacrifice fly into left field to make it a 2-1 game before Fitzgerald got out of the inning with two strikeouts.
Hansen was lifted after allowing a Mac Hudgins one-out single in the seventh and St. John's brought in Stephen Rivera. The reliever induced an infield popout before Hudgins was caught stealing to end the frame.
Notre Dame put the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth as Rivera walked Jagielo with two outs before getting a game-ending flyout to record the save and send St. John's to the BIG EAST Championship Finals.
St. John's returns to action at noon on May 27, taking on either Connecticut or USF in the BIG EAST Championship Finals. The game will be televised on ESPNU.