June 4, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - One day after defeating the fourth-ranked Tar Heels in walk-off fashion, St. John's downed North Carolina, 9-5, to win its first NCAA Regional since 1980 and punch its ticket to a Super Regional for the first time in program history. Frank Schwindel was 5-for-5 to lead St. John's (40-21), which reached the 40-win plateau for the sixth time in the past eight years. Sean O'Hare and Robert Case had two RBI apiece to help pace the Red Storm. Matt Carasiti (7-5) allowed four runs in 5.1 innings to earn his third-straight win. Chaz Frank had two RBI for North Carolina (46-16), while starter Shane Taylor took the loss after allowing four runs in 2.0 innings of work.
"I'm proud of these guys, said head coach Ed Blankmeyer. "We had a tough start this year and we were trying to find ourselves, but towards the end of the season I felt that we had a chance to do something special."
St. John's used a two-out RBI single to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. O'Hare reached on an error to leadoff the inning and stole second before being thrown out at the plate on a Zach Lauricella single up the middle. Danny Bethea followed with an infield single to set up runners on first and second with one out before Kyle Richardson lined a two-out RBI single into center to put the Red Storm on the board.
North Carolina answered in the second, however, plating three two-out runs to go up 3-1. After retiring the first two batters, Carasiti plunked Brian Holberton before a Michael Russell single up the middle set up runners on the corners. Parks Jordan tied the game with an RBI single into center before Frank lined a two-run single into right field to give the Tar Heels a 3-1 lead.
The Red Storm loaded the bases with no outs, chased Taylor and retook the lead with a three-run third inning. Matt Wessinger and Schwindel led off with back-to-back singles before Taylor was lifted with a 2-0 count to Jeremy Baltz. Reliever Luis Paula entered and Baltz walked to load the bases before O'Hare tied the game and set up runners on the corners with a two-run single. O'Hare then stole second base, while Baltz swiped home to give St. John's a 4-3 lead on the delayed steal.
St. John's took advantage of a two-out walk to add a run in the sixth and go up 5-3. After Paula retired the first two batters, Anthony Iacomini walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. A Richardson infield single set up runners on the corners before Jimmy Brennan grounded an RBI single up the middle to give the Red Storm a 5-3 lead.
North Carolina answered with a run and chased Carasiti in the sixth. A Jacob Stallings double set the table before Shell McCain pulled the Tar Heels to within 5-4 with a one-out RBI single and St. John's went to the bullpen. Kevin Kilpatrick entered and got a strikeout before Russell reached on an error, but McCain was thrown out at third base to end the inning.
St. John's responded in the seventh, rallying for a pair of two-out runs to go up 7-4. Schwindel and Baltz led off with back-to-back singles before an O'Hare groundout set up runners on second and third and UNC went to the bullpen. Mason McCullough entered and induced a groundout before a four-pitch walk to Bethea loaded the bases and the Tar Heels went to the bullpen again. Pinch hitter Robert Case promptly greeted Chris McCue with a two-run double to give the Red Storm a 7-4 advantage before Bethea was thrown out at home on the play to end the inning.
The Tar Heels answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh to pull within 7-5. After Jordan singled to lead off the inning, Frank walked before Kilpatrick induced a flyout. Colin Moran then blooped a single into shallow center and St. John's went to the bullpen. James Lomangino entered and walked Stallings to force in a run before getting a foul out and a strikeout to end the inning.
St. John's loaded the bases with no outs and added two runs in the ninth to grab a 9-5 advantage. Tate Parrish took the mound to start the frame and was lifted after Schwindel led off with a single, his fifth hit of the game. UNC went to the bullpen in favor of Chris Munnelly and Baltz reached on an error to set up runners on second and third with no outs. The Tar Heels then went to the bullpen again and Morin plunked O'Hare to load the bases. Morin retired the next two batters before Kyle Lombardo drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run. A Richardson infield pop up was then dropped and Baltz scored to give the Red Storm a 9-5 lead.
North Carolina put the leadoff man on base in the ninth as Lomangino walked Frank and was then lifted. Stephen Rivera entered and induced a pair of fly outs before getting a game-ending strikeout.
St. John's will take on the winner of the Tucson Regional, either No. 1 seed Arizona or No. 3 seed Louisville, in the Super Regionals beginning on June 8 or 9.