Mooney, Blankmeyer Lead Eight All-BIG EAST Selections for St. John’s|
May 23, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. -
On the heels of one of the most successful regular seasons in program history, the No. 20 St. John’s Red Storm has taken home a major haul of BIG EAST Postseason Awards.
Leading the way for the Johnnies, Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer and his assistants have been honored by their counterparts as the 2017 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. The winningest skipper in conference history, Blankmeyer has now garnered the accolade seven times, including two of the past three, three of the past six, and six of the past 13 seasons overall. With a record of 40-9, the 2017 Red Storm registered its best-ever mark through 49 games and the second-highest regular-season win total in the 100-plus year history of the program. Rising as high as no. 4 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll in early April, the Red Storm matched its best national ranking since the College World Series season of 1968.
One of the most dominant hurlers in the nation, Sean Mooney has been named both the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and the unanimous BIG EAST Freshman of the Year. Mooney becomes just the second player in the 30-plus year history of the conference to garner these awards simultaneously, joining Boston College’s Chris Lambert, who accomplished the feat in 2002. Mooney is now the third-straight and seventh Johnny overall to take home BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year honors, while becoming the sixth member of the Red Storm overall and the third in the last four years to be named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
Mooney has been nothing short of sensational this year for the Johnnies, compiling an 8-0 record with a 1.10 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP in 90.0 innings. The Marmora, N.J., native has struck out 82 batters and surrendered just 15 walks on the season, while limiting opponents to a .168 batting average and going seven innings or longer in nine of his 11 starts with one complete game. Recording 10 strikeouts in a game on a pair of occasions, Mooney became the first Red Storm pitcher to fan 10 or more twice in the same season since James Lomangino accomplished the feat as a redshirt junior in 2013. Nationally, Mooney ranks second in WHIP and fourth in ERA, the only freshman to rank in the top 40 of both categories, let alone the top four.
Mooney is one of seven Johnnies to find a spot on the All-BIG EAST First Team, joining Troy Dixon, John Valente, Josh Shaw, Jesse Berardi, Michael Donadio and Anthony Brocato. Mooney and Dixon were unanimous selections to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while Berardi, Donadio and Brocato earned unanimous All-BIG EAST selections. In addition, freshman Joe LaSorsa was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team.
The Red Storm’s eight All-BIG EAST honorees are the second-most in program history, trailing only the 2015 conference champions who saw 11 of their players honored, including eight first team selections.
St. John’s took home more all-conference selections than any other team in the BIG EAST, as Creighton and Xavier finished second with six all-league nods apiece.
Dixon, a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher, enters the BIG EAST Tournament leading the conference and ranking second nationally among catchers with a .380 batting average. The Egg Harbor Township, N.J., native and 2016 New England Collegiate Baseball League Most Valuable Player has been having a career year for the Johnnies, registering three home runs, 10 doubles and 32 RBIs. The backstop is reaching base at a .467 clip and slugging .514, both of which are on pace to shatter his previous career highs.
A consistent threat at the top of the Red Storm’s lineup all season long, Valente started off the year with a bang, firing off an 18-game hitting streak. When coupled with his 12-game hitting streak to end last season, Valente shattered the program record in that category by hitting safely in 30-straight contests. Ranking third on the team and in the conference with a .368 average heading into the BIG EAST Championship, Valente has set or matched career highs in doubles (5), triples (2), home runs (2), RBIs (31) and walks (20). The redshirt junior from New Rochelle, N.Y., also ranks seventh in Division I with eight sacrifice flies and is the 12th toughest player in the nation to punch out, going down on strikes just once every 16.8 at-bats.
The 2016 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Shaw has picked up right where he left off in 2017, batting .286 with a pair of home runs, 10 doubles and 32 RBIs on the campaign. Showing off the ability to drive in runs in bunches, Shaw has brought home three or more runs in a game four times this season, including a career-high five RBIs in the first three innings against Seton Hall on April 28. One of the league’s most gifted defensive second basemen, Shaw also sports a .976 fielding percentage.
One of the conference’s most profound and complete players, Berardi has solidified his reputation as an elite talent as a junior this season. On the year, Berardi leads the team and ranks second in the BIG EAST with 46 RBIs, while checking in at fourth in the conference in both on-base percentage (.467) and batting average (.361). The shortstop from Commack, N.Y., is tied for second on the team with four home runs, including a two-run shot to tie the game in the seventh inning at North Carolina on March 1. Heading into the conference tournament, Berardi has reached base safely in each of his last 31 games and leads the team with 13 multi-RBI efforts on the season.
An undeniable talent since the second he stepped on the field at Jack Kaiser Stadium, Donadio has earned First Team All-BIG EAST for the fourth-consecutive year. The senior from Mount Sinai, N.Y., becomes the first player in St. John’s history to achieve the feat and just the second player in the 33-year history of the conference to do so, joining Notre Dame designated hitter Jeff Wagner, who received four-straight First Team All-BIG EAST nods from 1996-99. As a senior, Donadio ranks second in the BIG EAST with a .377 batting average and a .565 slugging percentage, while pacing the league with a .483 on-base percentage.
Rounding out the Red Storm’s First Team All-BIG EAST selections, Brocato has proven himself to be one of the league’s top power threats this season by leaving the yard eight times with five jacks in conference contests. His home run total ties for the most by a St. John’s player since Jeremy Baltz smacked eight round-trippers in the Super Regional season of 2012 before being selected in the second round of the MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. Brocato’s three multi-home run efforts are also the most by a St. John’s player since Baltz matched that number during his 2010 freshman campaign that saw him shatter the school record with 24 bombs. Also the team leader in doubles with 15, Brocato is hitting .447 over his last 13 games with 12 extra-base hits and 20 home runs. The Helmetta, N.J., native is slugging .957 over that stretch.
One of just four freshmen to be honored as an all-league selection, LaSorsa has exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2017, ranking second on the team in wins with a 6-1 record in 18 relief appearances. The crafty left-hander from Kathonah, N.Y., has compiled a 2.13 ERA with a .217 opponent batting average in 42.1 innings this season, striking out 36 and walking just 11. LaSorsa has shown a penchant for big spots as a freshman, throwing key innings in a number of crucial conference contests and playing integral roles in the team’s wins over Coastal Carolina and North Carolina early in the season.
The Red Storm will kick off play at the BIG EAST Baseball Championship on Thursday afternoon, taking on Xavier at 3:30 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park on Omaha, Neb. The contest, along will all other opening games prior to Sunday’s championship, will be carried on the BIG EAST Digital Network.