By Dylan Butler
The St. John’s baseball team all but assured itself of a winning record in a challenging stretch of seven Big East road games by sweeping Georgetown in Bethesda, Md. last weekend.
OK, so it was against a brutal Hoyas team that is dead last in the conference with a 1-15 record.
But after dropping two of its last three Big East games, including an embarrassing doubleheader drubbing by No. 16 Notre Dame and heading into twin bills at Rutgers Thursday and Villanova Saturday, three straight wins over any conference opponent is exactly what the Red Storm needed.
Leading the charge for St. John’s (17-15, 7-3) was Mike Rozema, who earned co-Big East Player of the Week honors after batting .615 (8-for-13) with five RBIs and four runs scored against the Hoyas.
The junior shortstop, who has hit safely in 15 straight games and has multiple hits in his last six games, belted his first career home run — a grand slam — in the Red Storm’s series-opening 9-5 victory Saturday afternoon.
Derek Sullivan went 2-for-4 with one RBI and three runs scored; Anthony DeRosa was 2-for-4 with two walks, one RBI and two runs scored; while Mike Tamulinonis improved to 1-1 for the Red Storm, allowing one unearned run on one hit in two innings of relief.
In the nightcap, Anthony Varvano (3-3) allowed one earned run on five hits while striking out five with two walks. Tom Klemm and Chris Hansen combined to pitch 2.1 innings of hitless relief for the Red Storm in a 5-1 victory.
With the Red Storm leading 1-0, Jesus Bravo crushed a one-out solo homer over the 20-foot-wall in center field in the fourth inning and the Johnnies added three more runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by Bravo’s two-out double to right that scored Rozema.
St. John’s completed the sweep Sunday as Jim Wladyka and Hansen combined to toss a five-hit shutout in an 8-0 romp. Wladyka, a sophomore from Rutherford, N.J., improved to 2-3, allowing four hits while striking out four with two walks. Hansen gave up one hit and one walk in two innings out of the bullpen.
Blake Hershelman provided all the offense St. John’s would need with a leadoff home run in the third inning. Bravo added his third dinger of the year in the fourth inning, and Drew Jackson and Ray Downs also went deep for the Red Storm, which recorded its first conference shutout since 2001.
Next up for St. John’s is a doubleheader at Rutgers (12-13, 6-3) Thursday at noon. The Scarlet Knights are just behind the Red Storm in fifth place in the Big East after taking a three-game set with in-state rival Seton Hall last weekend.
After the doubleheader at Rutgers, St. John’s continues south down the New Jersey Turnpike to play two games at Villanova (7-20, 2-10) Saturday at noon.
Eric King, Tristan Smith and Tim Doyle have all been given their release by St. John’s men’s basketball coach Mike Jarvis, allowing the three the ability to transfer.
King averaged 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 32 games this year. Smith, a backup point guard, averaged 1.5 points and had 16 steals in 32 games, and Doyle averaged 1.3 points and had 12 assists in 25 games.
The moves would appear to free up room for former Cardozo standout Ryan Williams, an explosive small forward, to join the Red Storm.
After giving up a leadoff homer, Queens senior hurler Keith Haack (3-1) blanked Molloy through seven innings in a 9-1 New York Collegiate Athletic Conference win last Thursday. Haack allowed four hits, while striking out six and walking three to earn NYCAC Pitcher of the Week honors.
Former Francis Lewis standout Vic Pantopoulos batted .563 (9-for-16) for the week with two homers and six RBIs while hitting for the cycle against Molloy. John Aluska belted a grand slam to cap a six-run third inning in the win over the Lions.
Queens (7-7, 6-5) then headed to Philadelphia, where the Knights split a doubleheader Sunday, winning the opener 14-11 before dropping the nightcap, 7-6.
In the opener, Robert Behrman went 4-for-6 with a home run, and Carlos Cruz had a double, a homer and three RBIs in an 18-hit barrage. Despite giving up 10 runs — 9 earned — on 12 hits, Louie Welsh improved to 1-1 for the Knights.
Queens trailed 7-2 in the nightcap but rallied to score two runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth before falling just short. Pantopoulos went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Knights, who host the University of Bridgeport Friday at noon in a doubleheader before playing two at New Haven Saturday at noon.
Queens College 2, Assumption 1. Cheryl Cosenzo went 1-for-3 and drove in both Queens runs. Victoria Forsythe allowed one unearned run on four hits while striking out four and walking three as Queens (17-8, 12-2) won its ninth straight, sweeping a doubleheader from visiting Assumption Sunday.
The former Stella Maris standout was named NYCAC Player of the Week after batting .571 in six games, including four homers. Forsythe, a freshman from Massapequa Park, was named NYCAC Rookie of the Week.
Queens College 8, Assumption 0. Jessica Blake was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, Fran Piazza went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored, and Cosenzo added her fifth home run of the year in the opening game of a doubleheader Sunday at Queens College.
Queens College 4, New York Tech 2. Cosenzo had two hits and three RBIs, and Lisa Tropea was 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Lady Knights in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday at Queens College.
Queens College 8, New York Tech 7. Tropea went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and Cosenzo drove in the winning run to cap a three-run eighth for the Lady Knights, who play their next six games — doubleheaders at New Haven (Friday), Caldwell College (Monday) and Bridgeport (Wednesday) — on the road.
St. John’s 5, Syracuse 4. Back-to-back jacks in the top of the seventh by Alesha Argeras and Allina Sainz salvaged a Big East split at Syracuse Sunday. Courtney Fitzgerald (16-14) picked up the win for the Red Storm (19-21, 6-6), tossing two innings of perfect relief.
Syracuse 3, St. John’s 2. Cassie Morales’ pinch-hit, two-out double down the left field line in the bottom of the seventh inning capped the victory for Syracuse (10-18, 4-6) in the opener of the doubleheader.
The Red Storm hosts conference foe Seton Hall (21-9, 7-4) Saturday at noon before playing at Sacred Heart Monday at 1 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.