No. 20 Red Storm to Close Out Regular Season with Three-Game Set against Villanova|
May 17, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. - The winners of five in a row and eight of its last nine, the No. 20 St. John's Red Storm will close out the regular season with a three-game set against Villanova beginning on Thursday at 1 p.m. at Jack Kaiser Stadium.
The Red Storm enters the series with a mark of 38-8 and will have the opportunity to match the program record for wins in a regular season if the Johnnies can claim victory in all three games. The 2008 Red Storm closed out the regular season with a record of 41-12, setting the St. John's high-water mark for wins before the BIG EAST Tournament. The overall school record of 43 wins was set by the 2010 Red Storm, who claimed four-straight wins at the conference championship before picking up three victories and advancing to the Charlottesville Regional final before falling to Virginia. Despite sporting the nation's third best winning percentage (.826), the Red Storm will have no shot at touching the program record for regular season winning percentage, as the 1962 squad went 22-1 (.957) before falling in the first game of the District II playoffs.
Having already secured their place in the field for next week's BIG EAST Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, the Johnnies will battle for seeding against the Wildcats. St. John's, which currently ranks second in the conference standings with a record of 11-4 in league play, could capture its ninth BIG EAST Regular Season title with favorable results or could fall as far as third depending on how the games play out. The Red Storm does not control its own destiny, as the Johnnies will need at least one Butler victory over Creighton to clear a path to the no. 1 seed in Omaha. The standings prove extra complicated this season, as Creighton and Xavier will play only 16 total conference games after two of their three contests were rained out the last weekend in April. For complete BIG EAST standings (which are determined by conference winning percentage), click here.
Checking in at number four in the nation with a team batting average of .328, the Red Storm has proven to possess one of the nation's most dangerous offensive attacks. Five Johnnies rank in the top 55 nationally in batting average, led by Michael Donadio (.389) at no. 21. St. John's is the only team in the nation to have four separate players rank inside the top 55 in batting average.
Not just a threat to opposing teams at the dish, the Red Storm also boasts one of the nation's most talented pitching staffs. Led by freshman sensation Sean Mooney, the Red Storm ranks fifth in the NCAA with a 2.82 team ERA and checks in at eighth in the nation with a team WHIP of 1.19. Despite having made just 10 career starts, Mooney leads the nation in WHIP (0.75) and ranks fourth in ERA (1.18), the only freshman to rank in the top 40 of both categories, let alone the top four. In addition to Mooney, four other Red Storm hurlers sport sub-two ERAs.
The hottest bat in the St. John's lineup over the past couple of games, senior third baseman Robbie Knightes is just one hit away from becoming the 22nd member of the St. John's 200-hit club. The Schenectady, N.Y., native has six hits over his last two games, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored against Xavier on Sunday before turning in a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance against LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday. Knightes currently sports a four-game hitting streak and has boosted his batting average nearly 30 points over that stretch. Should he join Donadio, who registered career hit no. 200 with the game-winning home run at North Carolina on March 1, the pair would be the first members of the 200-hit club to play simultaneously since Matt Wessinger and Jeremy Baltz helped lead the Johnnies to a Super Regional in 2012.
On Tuesday against the Blackbirds, Jamie Galazin hit his second home run of the season en-route to finishing with a career-high four-RBIs, marking the 32nd time this season that a member of the Red Storm has left the yard. That total is the highest for a Red Storm squad since the 2011 Johnnies belted 38, led by 10 from Joe Panik. Anthony Brocato has used three multi-homer performances to record a team-best eight roundtrippers, the most by a St. John's player since Baltz dropped eight in 2012.
Longtime BIG EAST foes, St. John's and Villanova share a series history dating back to 1960. In 78 all-time meetings between the two programs, the Red Storm owns a 51-27 advantage over the Wildcats, including wins in four of the last six contests.