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Revenge sweet in Storm comeback victory

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Jason Kane strode to the plate filled with pent-up anger. For eight innings, the St. John’s third baseman sat in the dugout and stewed. The junior had been ejected in the sixth inning of the front end of a double-header against Big East foe West Virginia for arguing balls and strikes.

Kane, still sitting during the nightcap, watched as teammate Chris Fallon was also tossed in the sixth inning, as was head coach Ed Blankmeyer, who was ejected for arguing a play at the plate in the eighth inning.

But with the game tied at 3 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the pinch-hitting Kane stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. And with one swing of the bat, he released all his frustrations and laced a game-winning single into right field, scoring Mike Rhoads — who replaced Fallon — as the Red Storm won the game, 4-3, sweeping a doubleheader from the Moutaineers last Thursday at The Ballpark at St. John’s University.

“Revenge is a good word for it,” said Kane. “It was extremely sweet. I was just hoping to get another win. It was very important for us to get these two wins.”

The Red Storm followed the two wins over West Virginia with a sweep of conference foe Pittsburgh Saturday. St. John’s (20-13, 12-5) is now alone in second place behind No. 5 ranked Notre Dame in the Big East standings.

In the front end of the double header against West Virginia, St. John’s sophomore Geno Orsogna went the distance, giving up six hits with four strikeouts as the Red Storm shutout the Mountaineers, 1-0.

Orsogna got all the run support he would need in the first inning when Moutaineers ace Shane Rhodes led off the game by hitting Billy Grasier and Mike Rozema. Charlie Bilezikjian grounded into a double play, but Grasier moved to third. After Fallon walked, Eric Potts singled up the middle to put St. John’s ahead, 1-0.

West Virginia (18-17, 5-7) threatened to score several times, but Orsogna (5-0) bore down and got out of each jam. The Moutaineers stranded 11 runners, including three at third base.

“He did a hell of a job, he just pitched his heart out,” Blankmeyer said. “He didn’t get rattled. That’s pitching — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

West Virginia loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning, but Orsogna got Adrian Dorsey to fly out to shallow left field and Mike Frownfelter grounded to Kane at third to end the rally.

Dallas Crews led off the top of the seventh with a single to left field and advanced to second on Eric Grimm’s sacrifice bunt. With the St. John’s bullpen lacking confidence after blowing two Big East save opportunities, Blankmeyer decided to stay with Orsogna, who struck out Tim McCabe and Kurtis Clinton to end the game.

“I knew that final inning was big, I just tried to bear down,” Orsogna said. “I knew I had to get the job done.”

With Big East starters Marc Goldberg and Tom Klemm slated to throw against Pittsburgh, freshman Joe Reid was called into just his second Big East game of the year. And he didn’t disappoint, giving a solid 7 1/3 innings in the nightcap in his first conference start.

Courtesy of Jason Fischette’s three-run double to left in the third inning, it looked like Reid would pick up his first career Big East win. But after allowing just one run in the first seven innings, West Virginia rallied in the top of the eighth inning.

With runners at second and third, Drew Sandri singled up the middle. McCabe scored easily and Josh Cisneros motored around third as Bilezikjian fired a strike from center field. It looked like Cisneros was nailed at the plate, but home plate John Ramsey ruled him safe, tying the score at 3. Blankmeyer was tossed after arguing the call.

Bilezikjian (2-2) replaced Reid and struck out three of the six Moutaineers he faced to earn the win, thanks to Kane’s heroics.

St. John’s 10 Pittsburgh 9. In only his second at-bat of the season, Red Storm sophomore Steve Pecse singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as St. John’s swept a doubleheader from Pittsburgh Saturday at The Ballpark at St. John’s. The Panthers fell to 15-17, 3-12.

St. John’s 5, Pittsburgh 2. Goldberg hurled his fourth-straight complete game, giving up two runs on six hits. The Staten Island native struck out nine and walked two to improve to 4-4. Fallon smoked a home run to dead center field in the sixth inning, bringing him within one home run of the school record of 35 set by Robert Lambraia in 1989.

After home non-league games against Long Island University, Drexel and Fordham, the Red Storm take to the road to face Seton Hall in a three-game weekend set.

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

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