Pirates win, Leon makes history in crucial series opener

Seton Hall baseball secured a monumental home victory on Friday afternoon, defeating St. John’s by a final score of 4-3. The win puts both teams at an even 11-2 record atop the Big East standings heading into their doubleheader on Saturday.

Despite the outcome, the game did not begin smoothly for the Pirates. St. John’s was able to jump out to an early 1-0 lead on an RBI by Luke Stampfl. However, the Pirates, headed by Shane McCarthy on the mound, were able to escape without further damage and stranded two Red Storm runners on base.

Sean Barry/Staff Photographer

In the bottom of the first inning, St. John’s starter Sean Mooney took down the Pirates in order on three consecutive strikeouts. Mooney would keep the Pirates hitless until the fourth inning, when Sebastiano Santorelli registered an infield hit.

Santorelli would steal second base a few pitches later, and was then driven home on a triple from Mike Alescio. The next batter, Ryan Ramiz, would add to the rally, sending a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Pirates their first lead of the day.

McCarthy dealt a perfect fifth inning, but the Red Storm came right back in the sixth inning to knot the game at 2-2. Anthony Brocato hit a line drive off McCarthy’s torso which bounced to Rob Dadona, who subsequently threw the ball away. McCarthy stayed in the game and would get a groundout to shortstop to end the inning.

Dadona would make up for his error in the bottom of the inning. After reaching base on a walk, Dadona would steal second and reach third on a throwing error. Al Molina then sent a fly ball out to right field, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Jamie Galazin would tie the game in the seventh inning on a home run to left field. The earned run would end McCarthy’s day at 6.2 innings pitched.

The versatile Pirates found a way to bounce back, though, and re-took the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ramiz roped a double to begin the inning and advanced to third base on a passed ball. Tyler Shedler-McAvoy would then hit a deep ball to ensure another sacrifice fly and run scored, which ultimately was the difference in the game.

Sean Barry/Staff Photographer

Head coach Rob Sheppard understands the magnitude of the win for the team, but does not want to lose sight of the task at hand moving into the rest of the weekend.

“It’s great, you always want to win Fridays,” Sheppard said. “Every game in a conference is important and that’s the approach we have, not one game is bigger than the next. We keep our guys focused on executing one game at a time and we’re ready to come out for game one tomorrow.”

Matt Leon came in to pitch in the ninth inning for the Pirates. The right-hander dealt a perfect inning, including two strikeouts. It was his tenth save of the season, which is a new Seton Hall single season record.

“My teammates would mention [the record] but I didn’t look too much into it,” Leon said. “I want to go out there and make sure I’m giving them a chance to win. I had blown a save earlier this year and I don’t like that feeling. It gave me a sour taste and I don’t ever want to have that again, so that’s my mentality going out there.”

Kevin Kopf can be reached at kevin.kopf@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @KMKTNF.

Author: Kevin Kopf

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