May 29, 2011
CLEARWATER, Fla. - St. John's posted a 12-5 advantage in hits, but left 13 runners on base and was defeated by Seton Hall, 4-2, in the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament championship game. Jeremy Baltz was 3-for-4, while Jimmy Brennan and Rowan Wick had an RBI apiece to lead St. John's (35-20). Paul Karmas, who became St. John's all-time hit king, and Kevin Grove had two hits apiece for the Red Storm. Kyle Hansen (8-6) took the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, and striking out four in 5.0 innings of work. Sean Gusrang and A.J. Rusbarsky had an RBI apiece for Seton Hall (33-23), while Joe DiRocco (8-1) tossed 6.0 innings of one-run ball to earn the win.
Seton Hall grabbed the early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Zack Granite set the table with a lead off single. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, Gusrang lined an RBI double into the right field corner.
The Pirates took advantage of a lead off walk to Granite to add a run in the third inning. Granite then stole second and advanced to third on a fly out before scoring on a wild pitch to give Seton Hall a 2-0 advantage.
St. John's, meanwhile, had a one-out single in the first, a lead off single in the second and a two-out single in the third before breaking through with a run in the fifth. Grove led off with a single and was set in motion as Karmas ripped a single into left field to set up runners on the corners. After Joe Witkowski was plunked to load the bases with no outs, Brennan lifted a sacrifice fly into left field to make it a 2-1 game. DiRocco, however, escaped without further damage with an inning-ending double play.
Seton Hall, however, answered with a two-run bottom of the fifth after Granite drew a lead off walk, moved to second on a balk and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. After an intentional walk to Sean Gusrang, Hansen plunked Dale Anderson before inducing a pop up. Rusbarsky then plated a run with an infield single deep in the hole at short, but an errant throw allowed another run to score as Seton Hall grabbed a 4-1 lead.
The Red Storm loaded the bases in the sixth as Wessinger drew a one-out walk before Baltz singled and Robert Case walked, but DiRocco escaped with a strikeout and a groundout.
St. John's used a two-out rally to plate a run in the eighth. Baltz led off with a single, but was erased on a double play before Grove lined a single inside the first base bag. Karmas then dropped a single into left field to set up runners on the corners and Wick followed with a pinch-hit RBI single through the left side as the Red Storm climbed to within 4-2.
After walking the first batter he faced in the sixth, Matt Carasiti retired eight-straight batters before issuing consecutive two-out walks in the eighth and giving way to Sean Hagan to get the final out of the frame and send the game to the ninth.
The Red Storm mounted one final rally in the ninth as Panik roped a one-out double inside the third base bag before Baltz drew a two-out walk. A passed ball set up runners on second and third, but Matt Harvey induced a game-ending groundout to notch his seventh save.
St. John's now awaits possible selection into the NCAA Tournament. The tournament selection show airs on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. on May 30.
Notes: Panik was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second straight season, while Grove also earned All-Tournament honors ... Panik batted .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, three RBI, six runs scored and four stolen bases ... Grove batted .500 (7-for-14) with one double, one home run (a grand slam) and five RBI ... Karmas recorded the 245th hit of his career to become the program's all-time hit king.