Late rally allows sloppy Red Storm to take first Big East series

By Troy Mauriello

The St. John’s baseball team battled through a plethora of errors and base-running miscues to pull out a 5-4 win over Georgetown in the deciding game of its first Big East Conference series of the season Sunday at Kaiser Stadium.

The Red Storm outhit the Hoyas 12-3, but four errors and a few base-running mistakes in the seventh inning left them deadlocked at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

There, St. John’s used some small ball and hustle to take the lead for good. After a Josh Shaw single led off the inning, shortstop Jesse Berardi advanced the runner with a sacrifice bunt.

A passed ball then allowed Shaw to advance to third with one out. However, designated hitter Mark Venice was unable to get the go-ahead run in with a ground out to first. The Red Storm’s fate came down to first baseman Gui Gingras, who would deliver with the biggest of his three hits on the afternoon.

Gingras barely beat out a slow-roller to second base for an infield single that scored Shaw and gave the Red Storm a 5-4 lead that it would not relinquish.

“I saw the first baseman go for the ball a little bit, and then I thought ‘I got a shot at it,’ so I tried to get there as quick as I could,” Gingras said.

The bang-bang play and resulting safe call did not go over well with the Georgetown bench, as Hoyas manager Pete Wilk was ejected for arguing the call. St. John’s assistant coach Mike Hampton credited Gingras’ hustle. Head coach Ed Blankmeyer missed the game for medical reasons.

“He ran down there hard, and the umpire called him safe.” Hampton said. “So all I can say is that he competes, and he’s always trying to do his best just like any of the other guys out here.”

St. John’s jumped out to a 1-0 lead right away in the bottom of the first after a single from catcher Troy Dixon plated center fielder Jamie Galazin. Georgetown tied things up at 1-1 in the top of the third.

The Red Storm added two more in the bottom half of the frame, thanks to Dixon and left fielder Michael Donadio. An Alex Caruso single gave the Red Storm a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, but St. John’s left the bases loaded.

SJU starter Kevin Magee pitched well in what was only his fourth start of the season. He allowed just three hits and one earned run with five strikeouts, but he walked five and threw just four innings.

Georgetown tied things up with three runs in the top of the fifth after Magee allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach base. From that point on the St. John’s bullpen was lights out.

Kevin Torres tossed 3 1/3 hitless innings and picked up the win. Closer Thomas Hackimer entered in the ninth to shut the door. Hackimer has allowed just one run in 28.1 innings this season.

“I thought our pitching did pretty dang good today, they threw strikes, they competed,” Hampton said.

The win is SJU’s ninth in its last 11 games, and it will now enter the bulk of Big East play trying to repeat as conference champions.

“We’ll look at the other teams, how they did,” Gingras said. “We’re going to analyze and keep working on the good things we saw in that series today.”