By Five Boro Sports
Ed Blankmeyer likes that his team will be part of the trivia question when it comes to the first teams to play at Citi Field. The result? That’s something the St. John’s baseball coach can do without.
“When you’re 20 years down the road, you can say you played the first game in this ballpark,” he said. “I wish I could say we had the first win in this ballpark.”
Georgetown scored four runs in the seventh inning to defeat St. John’s 6-4 in front of 22,397 fans in the inaugural game at the Mets’ new stadium Sunday in Flushing. It was the seventh-largest crowd ever for an NCAA baseball game.
“The Mets organization invited us to do this and it certainly helps them work out some of the glitches because they have that exhibition game coming up on Friday against the Red Sox,” Blankmeyer said. “But it’s good for us as well. It’s nice for the Mets to do this.”
The St. John’s bullpen was accommodating, too, especially in a disastrous, four-run seventh inning as the Red Storm dropped a three-game series to Georgetown for the first time since 2000.
“That’s all it is, one bad inning,” second baseman Gino Matias said.
Freshman Brendan Lobban, who missed his first Big East start last Sunday because of a cut on his middle finger, pitched well. He gave up two earned runs on seven hits in six innings.
“I wish I threw last weekend to get a Big East start under my belt,” he said. “You want to get in before a big game like this, but I’m kind of happy with how I pitched.”
The right-hander’s biggest mistake was a 0-1 inside fastball that Georgetown’s Sean Lamont put over the wall in left for a two-out, solo home run in the third inning. The sophomore left fielder from Texas has the honor of being the first person to hit a home run in Citi Field.
“I pretty much knew it off the bat,” Lamont said. “When I was running around the bases, I was smiling thinking about it because it was mind-blowing.”
St. John’s (13-9) scored three runs in the top of the third inning, the big blow a two-run single to right by Joe Panik, to take a 4-2 lead into the seventh.
That’s when Nick Cenatiempo (1-2) relieved Lobban, but he was pulled before ever recording an out. The junior righty gave up three consecutive hits, including a two-run single by Erick Fernandez that tied the score at 4.
Ryan Cole came in, but didn’t fare much better, He gave up two hits, threw a wild pitch that scored Sean Baumann, had one walk and hit a batter before he was pulled for Miguel Valcarcel.
“Is it confidence? Is it mechanical? Now I’m going to say it’s both,” Blankmeyer said of Cenatiempo and Cole. “They’re just hoping for the ball in the strike zone and that’s not good.”
When the smoke cleared, the Hoyas had four runs on five hits and took a 6-4 lead into the eighth inning.
Georgetown ace Tim Adleman went eight innings, giving up four runs — two earned — on seven hits to improve to 2-3 on the season. A week after taking one of three against Louisville, the preseason favorite to win the Big East title, Georgetown (10-15) won a series from a St. John’s team that won back-to-back regular season crowns.
“You have guys who can’t command the strike zone, who can’t throw the off-speed in the strike zone and this has been the saga so far this season,” Blankmeyer said. “We get some good starts or we don’t get good starts and we pitch well underneath. We just can’t figure it out. We’re just inexperienced.”
St. John’s plays at Long Island University on Tuesday and returns home for New York Tech on Wednesday before a three-game set against Rutgers beginning Friday afternoon at Jack Kaiser Stadium.
It’s back to reality for a St. John’s team that has lifelong memories from opening Citi Field, even if the Red Storm’s play left a lot to be desired.
“I don’t think we got caught up [in the magnitude], I just think we didn’t play to our ability,” junior center fielder Brian Kemp said. “You have to tip your hat to Georgetown. They played very well. They wanted it.”