Storm picks up crucial win over Georgetown

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Just three games into the Big East season, the St. John’s baseball team was facing a must-win game Sunday against Georgetown. And it was still March.

That is what happens in a conference where 11 teams are fighting for just four postseason berths.

After splitting a doubleheader Saturday at the Ballpark at St. John’s, the Red Storm scored four runs in the second inning and starter Anthony Varvaro pitched six innings of one-hit ball in a 5-1 win over much-improved Georgetown.

“You don’t usually say that during the first (Big East) series of the year, but you have to win this game,” said St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer. “You don’t want this coming back to haunt you.”

Against a Georgetown team that took two of three games from Seton Hall last weekend and against a pitcher in Stephen Burns who entered Sunday’s game with an earned run average of 1.89, St. John’s (11-9, 2-1 Big East) strung together four straight hits to score four runs in the bottom of the second inning.

The big hit came off the bat of freshman Eric Grabowski, whose single up the middle drove in Anthony DeRosa and Eddie Schultz after DeRosa’s double down the left field line scored Chris Joachim.

“I’m from Massachusetts and we don’t have opening day until April 16. It’s crazy, mind-boggling,” Grabowski said of playing a must-win game in March. “It’s great, great atmosphere and gets the season going early by playing great ball.”

The Red Storm added a fifth run in the third inning when Joe Burke scored on DeRosa’s comebacker to Burns, who allowed five earned runs on six hits through three innings to fall to 1-4.

Varvaro did not have his best stuff — he walked six and hit two batters in six innings — but Georgetown (17-13, 3-3) could not hit the sophomore righty.

The former Curtis standout allowed just a third-inning single by Danny Gronski, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch out the shot down the line in left by DeRosa.

Varvaro got into one-ou

“Nothing was working for me today,” Varvaro said. “I just went out pitch by pitch and things worked out my way.”

Freshman lefty Robert Delaney continues to solidify himself as Blankmeyer’s setup man out of the bullpen, pitching a pair of solid innings — including striking out the side in the eighth inning — before closer Craig Hansen finished the Hoyas off in the ninth inning.

“I think Delaney pitched extremely well,” Blankmeyer said. “And we have to get Hansen more opportunities to pitch.”

After a midweek game at Wagner, St. John’s, which has won eight of its last nine, hosts Virginia Tech in a Big East series starting with a doubleheader Saturday at noon.

St. John’s 9, Georgetown 2. The Red Storm scored six runs on seven hits in the first inning off starter Warren Sizemore (2-3) to cruise in the Big East opener for the Johnnies Saturday.

Mike Rozema and Blake Hershelman had two hits apiece and Joe Reid picked up the win for the Red Storm, allowing two earned runs on three hits in 5.2 innings to improve to 3-1.

Georgetown 4, St. John’s 1. The Hoyas had 10 hits off Red Storm starter Jim Wladyka (2-2) and scored three runs in the second inning in the nightcap of the doubleheader Saturday. Erick Chandler improved to 3-2 for Georgetown, allowing one earned run on seven hits in seven innings.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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