RED STORM BEGINS EIGHT-GAME HOME STAND WITH BIG EAST SERIES AGAINST SETON HALL
The St. John's baseball team begins an eight-game home stand on Saturday, hosting Seton Hall for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series. The Red Storm and Pirates play a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday, with starting pitchers Matt Tosoni (2-1, 3.05 ERA) and Rob Delaney (4-3, 4.64 ERA) scheduled to take the mound for St. John's.
Both the Saturday doubleheader and Sunday game are scheduled for noon first pitches. Fans can follow along with live game statistics and web broadcasts by locating RedStormSports.com.
St. John's leads 54-51 in an all-time series that dates back to the 1956 season, including back-to-back series victories entering this weekend. The 105 all-time contests against the Pirates are the most of any St. John's opponent.
St. John's heads into the stretch run of the 2006 season in third place in the BIG EAST standings with a 10-7 mark in league play. The Red Storm (29-14, 10-7) is one game ahead of fourth-place Cincinnati (27-16, 10-8) in the loss column, with three conference series remaining. The two teams meet in Cincinnati in the final weekend of the season (May 18-20), leading up to the BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla., from May 23-28.
RED STORM PUTS IT ALL TOGETHER IN 6-1 WIN AT NEW YORK TECH
Junior Chris Joachim had three hits to extend his career-best hitting streak to 22 games and lead the Red Storm to a 6-1 road win over New York Tech on Tuesday, May 2. Joachim and each batter in the St. John's lineup had at least one hit, and freshman Jared Yecker allowed just three hits in seven strong innings to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season.
Once Yecker got his first lead in the second inning, he did not give it up over seven innings of work. The freshman gave up just three hits and one run, struck out five and walked none in improving to 5-1 on the season, and Justin Gutsie finished the game with two hitless and scoreless innings for his first career save.
Joachim went 3-for-4 with an RBI single and a run scored to lift his season batting average to .426, and Will Vogl stayed hot with two hits, two runs and one RBI. In his last six games, Vogl has hit .440 (11-for-25) with three home runs, 11 runs scored and seven RBI, earning his first career BIG EAST Player of the Week honors on Monday.
With the win, St. John's improved its season record to 29-14 and moved its non-conference win streak to 11 games, with just two non-conference games remaining.
VOGL NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior outfielder Will Vogl was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday, after hitting .389 (7-for-18) with a double, triple, three home runs, six RBI and nine runs scored in a 3-1 week for St. John's. Vogl hit home runs in all three games of a conference series at Rutgers, including a grand slam in an 11-2 win on Saturday, April 29.
With six home runs in 2005 and a team-leading nine so far in the 2006 season, Vogl has pulled into a tie for 10th place on the St. John's career home runs list with 15 in less than two seasons. The senior leads the team and ranks among the Top 10 in the conference in nearly every major offensive category in 2006, including home runs (nine, T3rd), doubles (14, T7th), triples (five, T2nd), RBI (42, 4th), slugging percentage (.689, 2nd) and total bases (111, 2nd).
HICK THE STICK: SENIOR CATCHER SWINGING A HOT BAT
Senior catcher Jarod Hickle has capitalized on an opportunity to play every day, by not only making 13 consecutive starts behind the plate, but having the best stretch of his career with the bat. Hickle has hit .304 with six doubles, one home run and 10 RBI over the last 13 games to raise his season batting average 66 points, from .194 to .260.
Consistent at-bats have been a key for Hickle, as he has hit .297 (19-for-64) in 17 games this season when recording at least three at-bats. The La Grange, Texas, native has reached base in 16 of those games and recorded hits in 14 of 17, highlighted by a career-high three hits against Princeton on Tuesday, April 25.
Hickle had a career day against the Tigers, going 3-for-4 with four RBI and four runs scored - all of which were new career-bests. Hickle also doubled for the fourth time in five games, walked once and had at least two hits in a game for the third time of his career.
TOSONI CONTINUES RUN OF BIG EAST SUCCESS
Redshirt sophomore Matt Tosoni has been among the BIG EAST's best pitchers in league play this season, ranking fourth in the conference in earned run average (2.92) and seventh in opposing batting average (.238) in BIG EAST action. The success has been nothing new for Tosoni, who went 3-1 with a 1.90 over the course of the 2004 BIG EAST schedule.
Two of Tosoni's last three appearances have come in games against Connecticut (April 22) and at then-No. 21 Notre Dame (April 15), the top two teams in the conference standings. The sophomore allowed a combined six hits and three runs in 13.1 innings in those games and extended a streak of 11.1 career innings without an earned run against the Fighting Irish.
Tosoni has been effective in both conference and non-conference appearances since allowing three runs on five hits in 1.1 innings in his season debut at then-No. 4 Rice. In eight appearances (four starts) since then, the Toronto, Ontario, native has recorded a 2-1 record, one save, a 2.47 ERA and a .229 opposing batting average.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
50/100: The number of extra-base hits senior Will Vogl has in the number of career games he has played. Vogl has hit 24 career doubles, 11 career triples and 15 career homers, with 14/5/9 coming in the 2006 season.
22: Where Chris Joachim's current hit streak stands, heading into this weekend's action. Joachim has hit .420 (34-for-81) over the streak, which is actually lower than his remarkable season batting average of .426, and has added 22 runs scored and 20 RBI over the streak.
117: The number of consecutive innings catcher Jarod Hickle has caught. Hickle, who has started the last 13 games behind the plate in place of the injured Brendan Monaghan, has been one of the team's top hitters over that span. The senior has hit .298 with six doubles, one home run and a total of 10 RBI that is the second-highest on the team.
100.0: The number of innings redshirt sophomore Matt Tosoni has pitched over the course of his two-year career. After missing the 2005 season with ulcerative colitis, a disease that caused him to lose nearly 60 pounds, Tosoni has recently claimed the top spot in the team's BIG EAST rotation.
76: The number of outs reliever Justin Muir got consecutively between earned runs allowed. Muir's streak spanned 12 appearances and 25.1 innings and saw him rack up 16 strikeouts, post a perfect 4-0 record and earn the second save of his career.
20: The number of strikeouts junior right-hander Rob Delaney is shy of the 10th-highest single-season strikeout total in school history. Delaney currently has 60 strikeouts in 54.1 innings, with C.J. Nitkowski sitting in 10th place on the school's single-season list with 80 (1994).
SCOUTING THE PIRATES
Seton Hall enters the weekend with a 14-26 overall record, a 5-13 mark in BIG EAST Conference play and a 3-14 mark in road games. The Pirates have lost six of their last nine games and five of their last six conference games and are winless in six BIG EAST road games.
Seton Hall has not played since Wednesday, April 26, when the Pirates defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 8-3. Prior to that, the team had played a weekday, non-conference game against Rutgers on Tuesday, April 25, and was beaten in two of three games by Villanova (April 21-23) in its last BIG EAST action.
The Pirate offense has hit .273 with 80 doubles, 22 home runs, a .391 slugging percentage and a .347 on-base percentage in 40 games. Brandon Cohen has been the team's biggest threat, hitting .299 with 14 doubles, five homers and 28 RBI, and Dan McDonald leads the team with 16 doubles, three triples and 20 extra-base hits.
The Seton Hall pitching staff has combined to record a 5.24 ERA, .287 opponent batting average, 289 strikeouts and 191 walks in 343.1 innings of work. Reliever Luis Fernandez leads the staff with a 2.36 ERA in 15 appearances, and Tim Dexter has a team-high three saves in 14 appearances. Starters Dan McDonald and Dan Merklinger have been solid, despite a combined 79 walks in 124.2 innings.
THE LINEUP CARD (PROBABLES BY POSITION)
CATCHER:Jarod Hickle has replaced the injured Brendan Monaghan and started the last 13 games behind the plate. The pitching staff has not missed a beat with the 6-foot, 208-pound senior receiving, and Hickle has also chipped in with 14 hits, a .298 batting average, six doubles and 10 RBI over that span. Hickle has seven doubles in his last 16 games overall and has posted the first four multi-hit games of his career.
FIRST BASE: Junior co-captain Chris Joachim has been one of the top offensive players in the BIG EAST for the entire 2006 season. Joachim enters this week's action ranked third in the conference in batting average (.426) and hits (69), tied for fourth in stolen bases (17) and fifth in on-base percentage (.489). He has already exceeded career-best season totals with 69 hits, 85 total bases and 17 steals, and is working on a current 22-game hit streak.
SECOND BASE:Sam DeLuca has been a consistent and durable part of the Red Storm offense and defense, hitting .313 with 56 RBI, 26 walks and just 23 strikeouts in 352 career at-bats. DeLuca has annually ranked among the toughest in collegiate baseball to strike out, and has been listed as the 18th toughest to strike out in 2006 (as of May 2). He has been dynamic at the plate as well, hitting .381 with 15 runs scored and a .429 on-base percentage in his last 15 games.
THIRD BASE:Gil Zayas is in the midst of a career year, hitting .300 with 14 doubles, four home runs, 34 RBI and a .463 slugging percentage. The sophomore and first-year starter ranks second on the team with four home runs, 18 extra-base hits and eight multi-RBI games, while tying for the team lead with 14 doubles. Zayas has also racked up 74 total bases, hit three sacrifice flies and totaled 12 two-out RBI.
SHORTSTOP:Gino Matias seems to be turning a corner as a defensive shortstop and has cleanly handled 29 of his last 30 chances there in the last nine games. Matias' speed and ability to get on base at the bottom of the lineup have also put pressure on opposing defenses and set the table for the top of the Red Storm order. In the last nine games, though he has gone 3-for-15 at the plate, Matias has walked four times, struck out just twice and recorded a .368 on-base percentage.
LEFT FIELD:Bryan Dirr has made his return to the starting lineup after missing six games due to injury, and has hits in three straight games entering the weekend. Dirr has also walked in each of the last three games and received 18 free passes in 33 games for the season. The sophomore has seen time at all three outfield positions and played his role offensively, hitting .339 with a .425 on-base percentage and a team-high eight sacrifice hits.
CENTER FIELD:Will Vogl has been as consistent and dynamic as any hitter in the Red Storm lineup and in the BIG EAST, compiling a .376 batting average, 28 extra-base hits, 43 RBI and a .685 slugging percentage in 43 games. Vogl has 21 games with at least two hits, a team-high nine games with at least two RBI and 27 games with at least one RBI, all while walking 21 times and recording a .449 on-base percentage out of the leadoff position.
RIGHT FIELD: Sophomore Chris Anninos has been one of the team's top hitters in BIG EAST games this season, recording a .350 batting average to go along with three home runs, 15 RBI and 32 total bases in 17 games. Overall, Anninos is hitting .330 with four doubles, three homers, 22 runs scored and 23 RBI, after hitting .412 in 22 plate appearances as a redshirt freshman in 2005.
DESIGNATED HITTER:Anthony Smith has been the Red Storm's top left-handed hitter, playing in 41 games in right field and as a designated hitter. The junior has hit .315 with five home runs, 30 RBI and 30 runs scored in those games, and has also added 23 walks and a .424 on-base percentage. In seven fewer at-bats than in the 2005 season, Smith already has seven more RBI (30) and 13 more runs scored (30) and has seen his on-base percentage rise by 102 points (.322 to .424).