Ninth Inning Rally Lifts St. John's Past No. 9 Texas, 2-1|
May 30, 2008
HOUSTON, Texas - The St. John's baseball team plated the eventual game-winning run in the top of ninth to defeat No. 9 Texas, 2-1, in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament's Houston Regional. Senior captain Jeff Grantham plated the game-winner with an RBI fielder's choice, while Carlos Del Rosario had the other RBI for St. John's (42-14). Red Storm starter Scott Barnes earned a no-decision after allowing just one run and striking out four in 7.2 strong innings. With the win, the Red Storm set a new school record with 42 wins. For Texas (37-21), Kenn Kasparek earned a no-decision after allowing one run and striking out four in 6.0 innings.
St. John's threatened in the top of the first inning with back-to-back two-out singles by Carlos Del Rosario and Paul Karmas, but Texas starter Kenn Kasparek was able to induce a fly out to end the inning.
Barnes, meanwhile, set down the first four Longhorns before allowing a ground-rule double to Brandon Belt. After a groundout advanced Belt to third, Hernandez rolled a slow grounder past Barnes and towards second baseman Gino Matias. Hernandez slid into first base and was ruled safe on a close play, which allowed Belt to score as Texas went up 1-0.
Tim Morris and Brian Kemp drew consecutive four-pitch walks to lead off the third inning for the Red Storm before Jeff Grantham moved up both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Del Rosario then tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI groundout.
Michael Torres singled off Barnes with one out in the third for Texas and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Red Storm catcher Daniel Benedetti would keep Texas off the board and end the inning by gunning down Torres attempting to steal third.
With one out in the fourth, Chris Anninos doubled just inside the third base bag and moved to third as Greg Hopkins singled through the left side. Kasparek, though, would induce an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Kyle Russell opened the bottom of the fourth with a single for Texas. After a fly out, Belt sent a slicing fly ball into left center field. Red Storm center fielder Kemp initially broke in before heading towards the wall and was charged with an error as he could not make the catch. Barnes, however, struck out David Hernandez looking to end the frame and keep the Longhorns off the board.
Texas reliever Cole Green came on in the seventh, walked the lead off batter and retired six straight before allowing a two-out single in the eighth to Anninos.
After a lead off single in the fifth, Barnes retired nine straight batters including a pair of strikeouts that ended both the fifth and seventh innings. The stretch ended when the lefty allowed a lead off single in the bottom of the eighth. Following a sacrifice bunt, Barnes walked Jordan Danks on four pitches. Barnes then induced a slow grounder towards second base and St. John's got the force at second, but Russell beat out the double play on a close call at first base. That would end the day for Barnes as the Red Storm went to the bullpen and brought in Colin Lynch to finish off the inning with an infield pop out.
Gino Matias reached first on an error to lead off the ninth after first baseman Belt could not handle the throw from reliever Green. Kemp then singled through the left side and Matias reached third. Grantham then rolled a slow grounder towards short and was able to beat out the double play effort as Matias scored to put the Red Storm up 2-1.
Lynch (4-1) returned to the mound and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the victory for St. John's.
The Red Storm now faces the winner of the Rice/Sam Houston St. game at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 31.