By Marc Raimondi
Sean Hagan had himself a strong beginning to the biggest start of his career and St. John’s walked off the field after a scoreless top of the first inning.
Then things went sour — quickly.
The Red Storm’s Danny Bethea was called for catcher’s interference on Robert Refsnyder’s inning-ending ground out to second base. Refsnyder went to first and Hagan had to come back to the mound.
Arizona, the 13th seed, followed with three straight singles, leading to three runs, and St. John’s never fully recovered. The Red Storm lost 7-4 in Game 2 of the baseball NCAA Super Regionals best-of-three series Friday in Tucson, Ariz., ending what was a historic season. The Johnnies also lost in heartbreaking fashion 7-6 in 10 innings Friday.
“When you’re coming off a loss like we just did, it puts you on your heels a little bit,” St. John’s Coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “It puts a little pressure on you. That’s what happens.”
St. John’s was making its first-ever Super Regional appearance. The last time the Red Storm advanced out of the regional round was 1980, before the Super Regionals existed.
Hagan, taken in the 29th round of last week’s MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Twins, settled down, giving up five runs, four earned, on six hits and seven walks in six innings. For the second straight day, St. John’s failed to get into the weak Arizona bullpen as Wildcats starter Konner Wade pitched a complete game.
Danny Bethea had an RBI single in the fifth and Zach Lauricella and Matt Wessinger drove in runs with ground outs in the sixth and seventh, respectively. St. John’s never got that big hit.
“I think we’re a top team and I think we proved that even this weekend,” Blankmeyer said of his team, which won both the Big East regular-season and tournament titles for the first time. “I think we made a statement.”