No. 20 Red Storm Heads to Kansas for Three-Game Series|
March 8, 2018
QUEENS, N.Y. - After a week of uncooperative weather on both coasts wreaked havoc on the Red Storm's schedule, the No. 20 St. John's baseball team will return to action on Friday, kicking off a three-game set with Kansas at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence.
Originally scheduled to play five times in the week leading up to its series with the Jayhawks, the Red Storm endured less-than-fortuitous weather on opposite sides of the country. After getting rained out on Friday and Saturday, the Johnnies split a doubleheader at UC Davis on Sunday, suffering their first loss of the season in the latter game. Slated to play both Tuesday and Wednesday in the New York area, St. John's saw both of those games get postponed. Tuesday's contest was supposed to mark the Red Storm's first inside the newly renovated Jack Kaiser Stadium, which received a seven-figure facelift over the offseason.
After shutting out the Aggies in the first game of their Sunday doubleheader, the Johnnies appeared primed to move to 9-0 for the second-straight year. Instead, UC Davis hung up a season-high 10 runs, eight of which were earned, in the latter tilt of the twin bill. Entering the game, the Red Storm's ERA had shrunk to a miniscule 0.86. After the series finale, that number nearly doubled to 1.67. Despite their Sunday setback, the Johnnies still rank second in the nation in team ERA, sitting just 0.12 points behind local rival Hofstra. On the year, the Red Storm is tied for the national lead with four shutouts.
With wins in eight-straight games to begin the season, the Red Storm secured the program's second best start to a campaign since 1981, when the Johnnies won 14 in a row fresh off an appearance in the 1980 College World Series.
The weekend rotation of Sean Mooney, Kevin Magee and Michael LoPresti has been exceptional so far this season for the Johnnies, compiling a 6-0 record with a 1.17 ERA in eight starts. Mooney, the winner of back-to-back BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week awards, has not allowed a run since the team's season opener, a stretch of 13.1 innings. A BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll selection after his first outing of the year, Magee has been close to perfect in 2018. The senior southpaw has held the opposition scoreless in 15 innings of work, striking out 22 and surrendering no walks. Through games played on Sunday, Magee's 0.60 WHIP ranks 20th in the country.
Despite receiving a mark in the loss column for the first time this season, the Red Storm maintained or improved upon its national ranking in more than a few polls to start the week. The Johnnies climbed one spot to no. 20 in the Collegiate Baseball rankings and stayed steady at no. 22 according to Baseball America. The Red Storm also entered a pair of polls for the first time, checking in at no. 23 in the Perfect Game rankings and bursting in at no. 25 in the first USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll of the regular season.
The Jayhawks, who were predicted to finish sixth in the Big 12 Preseason poll, enter the series with an 8-4 record after dropping two midweek contests to No. 4 Florida State. St. John's and Kansas have met three times in the history of the two programs with the Johnnies claiming victory in all three meetings. The Red Storm and the Jayhawks faced off twice during the opening week of the 1987 campaign before playing again the following year.