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Klemm delivers as SJU takes 2-of-3 from BC

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Tom Klemm is known as the “Sunday starter.” It’s a role on the St. John’s pitching rotation that carries with it a lot of responsibility. A good performance and the Red Storm most likely achieves its goal of winning two-of-three in a Big East series. A bad outing and St. John’s loses a crucial conference set.

Sunday’s series finale against Boston College was no different. The Red Storm gave up eight runs in the top of the seventh in a stinging 10-6 loss in the front end of a doubleheader Saturday. The strong pitching of Marc Goldberg salvaged a split for St. John’s and put all the pressure for the series win on Klemm’s right arm.

He delivered. The sophomore scattered four hits and allowed one earned run in his first career complete game as the Red Storm defeated the last-place Eagles, 6-2, at The Ballpark at St. John’s.

“Tommy got the job done. It was his best pitching performance since he got here,” said St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer. “He was in good command of all his pitches. He really wasn’t hit hard.”

Klemm (3-2), who said the 40-degree temperatures and the constant mist made it tough for him early, got stronger as the game went on. The righty retired the final 15 Eagles batters, striking out four during the stretch. Back-to-back hits in the fifth inning, including Scott Lemone’s RBI-single to right field, were the only hits he gave up in the final six innings.

“The last three innings were my best,” said Klemm. “I started throwing harder. I was able to do what I wanted to do with the ball.”

Klemm got all the run support he needed in the bottom of the fourth inning. With the Red Storm trailing, 1-0, Chris Fallon led off with a double to left field. After Eric Potts popped out in the infield, Jason Kane and John-Paul Cirigliano singled to load the bases.

Fallon scored to tie the game at 1 on a wild pitch by BC starter Mark Lederhos (2-2). Chad Cambra walked to fill the bases again. After John Stewart struck out swinging, Billy Grasier delivered the big hit, lacing two-run double down the right field line to put the Red Storm ahead, 3-1.

“I needed that, I’ve been struggling a bit at the plate,” the junior rightfielder said. “I just wanted to put the ball into play. I just sat back and waited for a ball in the strike zone.”

Boston College (13-15, 2-8 Big East) answered back with one run in the top of the fifth when Lemone followed Jarrett Mendoza’s lead-off double to right with a run-scoring single.

St. John’s (15-13, 8-5 Big East) responded with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single by Kane and Cambra’s sacrifice fly. Charlie Bilezikjian’s sac fly in the sixth scored Grasier, who led off the inning with a walk, to put the Red Storm ahead, 6-2.

“This was one of the biggest wins of the season,” Grasier said. “Taking two of three is always the goal and we showed a lot of character after losing the first game like that. Goldberg was great yesterday and Klemm was great today.”

After a non-conference game against local rival St. Francis College scheduled for Tuesday, the Red Storm host back-to-back Big East doubleheaders against West Virginia (18-15, 5-5) Thursday and Pittsburgh (15-13, 3-10) Saturday. First pitch for both doubleheaders is slated for noon.

Boston College 10, St. John’s 6. Leading 5-2 heading into the top of the seventh, the Red Storm was three outs away from beating the Eagles in the front end of a doubleheader Saturday. But instead, BC rallied for eight runs off four different Red Storm pitchers.

St. John’s 6, Boston College 3. After such a devastating loss, St. John’s needed a spark and Goldberg delivered. The Red Storm’s ace threw his fourth complete game of the season to secure the much-needed split. Goldberg carried a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning before St. John’s finally gave the South Florida transfer some run support, scoring five to take a 6-0 lead. The Red Storm had scored just 11 runs in Goldberg’s seven starts.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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