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Red Storm scores needed win over Seton Hall

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Technically the Big East baseball tournament doesn’t start until May 21, but for St. John’s, the reality is the tournament started this weekend with its three-game set against Seton Hall.

The Red Storm, one of eight teams vying for four tournament berths, desperately needed a win Sunday at The Ballpark at St. John’s after splitting a doubleheader with the Pirates Saturday.

So they pulled out all the stops. Starter Brian Dorsey pitched until his right arm almost fell off and with heavy rains falling in the early innings, St. John’s did a good job of manufacturing runs in an 8-2 victory.

The win means the Red Storm is still alive, albeit barely, heading into their finale three-game series of the season against Rutgers this weekend. St. John’s (26-21, 12-11) is in seventh place, but just two games behind fourth-place Rutgers (30-18, 14-9), needing to sweep the Scarlet Knights to advance to the tournament.

“Today was the first day that we really did everything well, from pitching to timely hitting to solid defense,” said St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer. “Usually we find ways to have good spurts and then we break down. After the first inning, everything worked well.”

Early on though, it appeared Dorsey and the Red Storm were in trouble as Seton Hall (24-25, 10-13) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning.

But Dorsey, who improved to 6-2, got Chris Fulda to fly out to third baseman Jason Kane in foul territory and then struck out Ed McDonnell looking to end the threat.

Dorsey, who had excellent control of his pitches, especially his changeup, cruised through the heavy rains of the third, fourth and fifth innings. The senior righthander allowed just three hits before tiring in the eighth inning when Fulda broke the shutout with a single to left field.

After giving up a second run on a groundout to second, Blankmeyer visited the mound with all intentions of going to the bullpen. But Dorsey said he wanted one more batter. Blankmeyer obliged and Dorsey, who threw a team-high 134 pitches, promptly struck out Matt Cuttruff on three pitches.

“He did a great job. In the first inning he tends to be a bit shaky, but he pitched himself out of a jam,” Blankmeyer said of Dorsey, who allowed five hits and struck out 10. “After that, that kind of broke their back and he kept us in the ballgame.”

St. John’s, which took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single by Jason Kane through the right side of the infield, manufactured runs in the third and fifth innings to take a 4-0 lead.

Designated hitter Ray Downs drove in Charlie Bilezikjian on a grounded out to short in the third and a sacrifice fly to left in the fifth. Jim Martin followed with an RBI-single to left to score Kane.

But in the sixth inning, the Red Storm went with power. Asa Grunewald, who was 3-for-4, scored on Billy Graiser’s triple in the gap in left-center field. Anthony DeRosa followed, and on an especially difficult day to hit, he crushed a two-run home run over the wall in left to put the Red Storm comfortably ahead, 7-0.

“It was an off-speed pitch up and over the plate,” DeRosa said of his sixth homer of the year. “With a runner at third and less than two out, I just tried to get the ball up in the air and luckily it went out.”

St. John’s 4-5, Seton Hall 3-7. DeRosa was 3-for-4, including a two-run triple, to lead the Red Storm to a 4-3 win in the opening game of a doubleheader Saturday. Jim Wladyka improved to 3-4, allowing three earned runs on seven hits, striking out one in six innings.

In the nightcap, Seton Hall scored four runs in the sixth inning en route to a 7-5 win. Greg Holmes dropped to 5-4, allowing seven runs — six earned — on eight hits. He struck out five and walked four.

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

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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