St. John’s drops two to Boston College

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The St. John's baseball team knew its four Big East road games last week carried huge postseason implications. The Red Storm returned home, dropping two at Boston College last Thursday and having a doubleheader washed out at Connecticut Saturday.

Now, with just nine conference games remaining and with only six teams that qualify for the Big East tournament, the Johnnies find themselves in ninth place and on the outside looking in its quest to play postseason baseball.

Only Georgetown (1-16), which earned its lone conference win over the Red Storm, has a worse conference record than St. John's (5-9). Starting with a three-game series at second place Notre Dame (10-4), the Red Storm finish the Big East regular season with home sets against eighth place Villanova (7-10) and third place Seton Hall (8-6).

"I told the guys, we have to win each series," said St. John's head coach Ed Blankmeyer. "And if we do that, we might still need a little help. We just have to take one weekend at a time and win that series. It should put us closer to the playoff picture."

Last Thursday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., the Red Storm was swept by Boston College, 2-1 and 9-1, as the Eagles notched its school-record 27th win of the season. St. John's fell to 21-15. It was the first time in 11 years the Eagles took a series from the Red Storm.

The opener was a pitchers duel between St. John's junior Kevin McGerry and Boston College senior Andy Sullivan. McGerry was solid, allowing just two earned runs on three hits through six innings. But Sullivan kept the Red Storm bats in check as he went the distance, scattering seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

St. John's jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after Charles Bilezkjian tripled to lead off the game and was driven home on Pete Graham's sacrifice fly.

McGerry, who retired 15 of BC's first 16 batters, held the 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when Boston College scored both of its runs. Mike Hubbard walked and advanced to third on Mike Gambino's single to right field. McGerry intentionally walked Mike Quirk to load the bases, but Steve Langone followed with a single through the left side. Joe Kealty's sacrifice fly to center scored Gambino for what was the eventual game-winning run.

McGerry dropped to 5-2 on the season, while Sullivan improved to 4-0.

"We did some things to shoot ourselves in the foot offensively," Blankmeyer said. "Sullivan pitched a great game against us. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities."

In the nightcap, the Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the first en route to a 9-1 rout. Langone opened the scoring with an RBI-single to left field. An RBI-double by Neal McCarthy and a Chris Rosado sacrifice fly capped the scoring in the first inning off starter John Niebling.

Boston College broke the game open with a five-run third inning. With John Troiola in for Niebling, Jeff Mackor put the Eagles ahead 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded and one out. Tom Klemm came in for Troiola, but let up four more runs on Gambino's two-RBI single and on a two-run error by third baseman Jason Kane.

The Eagles added another run in the seventh on an RBI-single by Jarett Mendoza before St. John's spoiled the shutout in the ninth inning when Chris Fallon doubled down the right field line, scoring Anthony Sutter.

Langone went the distance, allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts, improving to 6-2 while Niebling, who lasted just two innings, dropped his record to 4-4.

"They jumped on us for three runs early and we just couldn't shake the cobwebs from the first game," Blankmeyer said. "Giving Langone three runs early was too much. Then there was the five-run third and we just couldn't recover."

After non-league games at Hofstra and against Pace, the Red Storm return to conference action Saturday in South Bend, Ind. to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

"Any time you go in anyone's yard in this league, it's a tough place to play," Blankmeyer said. "But we placed ourselves in the position where we have to win. You can't get swept in this league and we've been swept twice and we haven't swept anybody. We have to sweep someone to get back in it. We're capable of playing good baseball, but the question is can we do it?"

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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