Tough Loss

A nip and tuck affair went the way of the Red Storm on Friday evening at Hawley Field

West Virginia and St. John's battled back and forth for more than three hours in an exciting matchup before the Red Storm scored a single run in the top of the eighth to come away with an 8-7 win in the opener of a three-game conference series in Morgantown. The Johnnies' game winner came when Brian Kemp doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly.

St. John's was able to scurry away with the win despite another power surge from the Mountaineers, who blasted three home runs and two doubles in its nine hits. The teams left a combined 16 men on base in the offense-dominated night.

St. John's opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with a single run, but WVU right fielder Austin Markel answered with a two-run blast in the bottom of the inning to give WVU the lead at 2-1. SJU added another solo run in the second to tie the score, but one inning later Justin Jenkins extended his school and conference record hitting streak with a solo homer to push the Mountaineers back in front at 3-2.

St. John's which scored in six different innings and only went down 1-2-3 twice in the game, bounced back with three runs over the next two innings, with the big hit coming from first baseman Ryan Mahoney, who hit a towering two-run homer to center. Chris Joachim scored an unearned run courtesy of a WVU error in the fifth to make it 5-3 in favor of the visitors.

The Mountaineers halved the deficit in the sixth on Mike Schmidt's leadoff home run, but St. John's produced a two-out rally in the seventh, scoring two runs with great assistance from the Gold and Blue. An error and a walk put to Red Storm runners in scoring position for Chris Anninos, who responded with a hit that made it 7-4.

Back again came the Mountaineers, however, with three runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the score, as St. John's returned the favor with some miscues of their own. Jenkins reached base after being hit by a pitch, and Markel walked. Jordon Yost drove in Jenkins with a single, and Markel and Yost moved up one base on a wild pitch. Vince Belnome's infield single scored Markel, and Yost came around to tie the game on a throwing error on the play.

Levi Maxwell went sevein innings for the Mountaineers, yielding all eight St. John's runs, although only five were earned. Chris Enourato had his second consecutive strong relief appearance, but did uncork a wild pitch to set up the winning run. St. John's Colin Lynch, despite allowing two inherited runners to score, shut down WVU in the last two innings to secure the win.

With the win, St. John's moved to 12-4 in the league, while the Mountaineers dropped to 6-9. The teams square off again Saturday afternoon at Hawley Field at 3:00 p.m.

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