By Dylan Butler
Meghan Allman knew she would get no relief. With junior pitcher Courtney Fitzgerald still out with a left wrist injury, the St. John’s freshman pitcher was sure she would have to throw every pitch of the Red Storm's Big East opening doubleheader against Seton Hall Saturday.
Allman did her part, allowing just two earned runs in 14 innings, but her Red Storm teammates struggled behind her with five errors in Seton Hall’s doubleheader sweep at Red Storm Field.
The Pirates took game one, 2-1, and won the nightcap, 5-4.
“If you look at the scoreboard, in both games we were within one hit of them,” said St. John’s coach Melody Cope. “But the difference is they put their hits together and we couldn’t. You can’t afford to make mistakes in the Big East and they made us pay.”
Against a Seton Hall team ranked third in the Big East in batting, Cope knew the Pirates would fare better against Allman (10-14) in the second game of the doubleheader with many of their batters getting their fourth and fifth look at the freshman righthander, who has pitched in all but 11 innings in St. John’s 27 games this season.
Seton Hall (14-7, 4-0) quickly jumped on Allman in the second game, scoring two runs on three hits to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
After scoring one run in the bottom of the first on Jillian Sandoval’s infield single that scored Alesha Argeras, St. John’s (10-16-1, 0-2) knocked out Pirates’ starter Christina Shanko, who earned the save in the opener, with a three-run third inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Seton Hall coach Ray Vander May went to his bullpen and brought in sophomore Casey McDevitt, who handcuffed the Red Storm the rest of the way, scattering four hits and retiring the final nine St. John’s batters to improve to 2-2.
“She just changed speeds a bit,” Cope said of McDevitt. “It just changed up their look. They have four pitchers and when you have a rotation like that you can mix things up.”
Fitzgerald, the former Mary Louis Academy standout from Bellerose, was expected to be the Red Storm’s ace, but she had surgery in the off-season on her pitching wrist and has yet to make an appearance this season.
Cope said Fitzgerald might be back by April 12, but until then, the St. John’s pitching rotation consists of Allman, who leads the Big East in appearances, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts and is second in strikeouts and wins.
Seton Hall scored three runs on three hits in the fourth inning, highlighted by D'arcy Djakalovic’s two-run double to left field, to take a 4-3 lead.
St. John’s threatened to tie the game in the fifth inning after Ann Raab and Kelly Houghton led off with back-to-back singles. Amy Crook advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt, but Jessica Cameron grounded back to the mound and Argeras flied out to right to end the rally.
Trailing 2-1 in the opener, St. John’s had runners in scoring position in each of the final three innings, but squandered each opportunity. The best chance came in the bottom of the fifth, as Houghton doubled to left to open inning, but Cecelia Baston struck out, Cameron popped out to short and Argeras grounded out to second to end the rally.
Houghton advanced to third with two out in the seventh inning, but Shanko, who replaced starter Megan Meyer (6-3), got Argeras to ground out to third to end the game.
“We had a couple of situations where we had the opportunity to get that extra hit and we just couldn’t,” Cope said. “We have to be more aggressive at the plate.”
St. John’s hosts a pair of Big East doubleheaders this weekend, taking on Notre Dame Saturday and Pittsburgh Sunday. First pitch both days is noon.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.