St. John's to Host Butler for Final Bouts of the Regular Season|
May 16, 2018
QUEENS, N.Y. - Looking to secure its BIG EAST-record ninth regular season title, the St. John's baseball team will close out conference play with a three-game set against Butler at Jack Kaiser Stadium beginning on Thursday at 1 p.m. Thursday's tilt will be broadcast on ESPN3, while Friday's game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. The regular season finale on Saturday can be seen on the BIG EAST Digital Network.
The owner of the league's top record at 13-2, the Red Storm needs just one win to secure the regular season title and the top seed in next week's BIG EAST Baseball Championship at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. Since the conference began sponsoring baseball in 1985, no team has come close to winning as many regular season and tournament championship as the Red Storm, which has taken home eight of each.
A series victory over the Bulldogs would secure the best finish by a BIG EAST team since realignment, as the 2015 Johnnies went 14-3 en route to their last conference crown. It would also match the best effort by a BIG EAST team since Louisville went 20-4 in 2013, a year in which the Cardinals reached the College World Series. A sweep of the Bulldogs would tie the Red Storm for the second-best regular season in conference history, matching the Seton Hall teams of 1987 and 1989 and the 1988 Villanova Wildcats. While those Seton Hall teams are best known for boasting the likes of Craig Biggio and Mo Vaughn, the Pirates also touted a young assistant coach by the name of Ed Blankmeyer. The best regular season finish in conference history belongs to the St. John's squad of 1991, which went 18-2 in 20 games.
The Red Storm enters the final series of the regular season on the heels of a midweek loss to No. 11 Minnesota at Jack Kaiser Stadium. Trailing 8-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Jamie Galazin led off the inning with a solo shot before the Red Storm put runners on the corners with one out, bringing the potential game-tying run to the plate. The contest, however, was halted due to severe thunderstorms in the area, causing the game to officially revert to an 8-4 win for the Gophers in eight innings.
Despite surrendering five earned runs to the Gophers on Tuesday, the Red Storm still sports the nation's second-best ERA at 2.74. One of the nation's most well balanced teams, the Johnnies are one of only two squads along with Minnesota to rank in the top 20 in Division I in both ERA and batting average (17th-.300).
Thursday's starter, 2017 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Sean Mooney, enters the contest with a record of 9-2 and a 2.49 ERA on the season. The sophomore right hander will look to become just the fifth hurler in St. John's history and the first since Ryan McCormick in 2015 to register double-digit wins in a single campaign. With 76 innings under his belt so far in 2018, Mooney has struck out 91 batters, the highest total in the BIG EAST and the most by a St. John's pitcher since Kyle Hansen fanned 109 in the super regional season of 2012.
Butler enters the series with St. John's having won each of its last two conference sets against Georgetown and Xavier.
The Red Storm holds a commanding advantage in its series history with Butler, winning 11 of the 12 games played between the two teams since the Bulldogs joined the conference prior to the start of the 2014 season. Last year, the Red Storm captured a thrilling series sweep in Indianapolis, including a pair of victories in extra innings.