June 3, 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -
Sean Hagan worked 7.1 scoreless innings and Matt Carasiti got the final five outs as St. John's shutout East Carolina, 2-0, to open play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Jimmy Brennan was 3-for-5 with an RBI to lead St. John's (36-20), while Kevin Grove was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Hagan (7-2) had six strikeouts to win his third-straight start, while Carasiti closed out the game for his eighth save. Corey Thompson, Ben Fultz and Chase McDonald had two hits apiece to lead East Carolina (39-20). Mike Wright (6-4) took the loss, striking out four and allowing two runs in 8.0 innings of work.
East Carolina threatened in the top of the first as a hit batsman, a walk and a single loaded the bases with two outs, but Hagan escaped as Brennan made a diving catch to end the inning.
After Hagan used a double play to erase a lead off single in second inning, St. John's took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Paul Karmas singled to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a Joe Witkowski sacrifice bunt. Brennan then lined an RBI single up the middle and the Red Storm grabbed a 1-0 advantage.
The Pirates put together back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the third, but Hagan used back-to-back strikeouts to strand a pair of runners and keep it a 1-0 game.
St. John's then added one run in the fourth after loading the bases with no outs. Following back-to-back singles by Jeremy Baltz and Matt Wessinger, Rowan Wick walked to load the bases. Grove followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Red Storm a 2-0 lead, but Wright retired the next two batters to end the threat.
Hagan, meanwhile, induced a double play after allowing a lead off single in the fourth and eventually retired six-straight before a one-out single in the sixth. The lefty then responded with a pair of strikeouts en route to striking out the side.
After retiring the leadoff batter in the bottom of the eighth, Hagan allowed a walk and a single to set up runners on the corners and St. John's went to the bullpen. Carasiti entered and ended the threat with a strikeout and a fly out to send the game to the ninth.
St. John's loaded the bases in the ninth against reliever Seth Simmons as Pat Talbut and Joe Panik had back-to-back two-out singles before Baltz drew a walk. Simmons, however, got a strikeout to end the threat.
Carasiti needed just one pitch to retire the lead off batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then walked pinch-hitter Drew Reynolds. A fielder's choice erased Reynolds before Thompson reached on a slow rolling infield single, but Carasiti induced a game-ending groundout to notch his eighth save.
St. John's returns action against top-ranked and top-seeded Virginia in a 6 p.m. game on June 4.
Virginia (50-9) won the ACC Tournament to earn the conference's automatic bid. Steven Proscia leads the team with 53 RBI and is tied with John Hicks for the team-lead in home runs (7). Hicks also has 51 RBI and leads the team in doubles (20) and slugging percentage (.519). Projected starter Danny Hultzen leads a pitching staff that has a 2.30 team ERA. Hultzen is 10-3 on the year with a 1.59 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 96.1 innings of work.