St. John's University erupted for seven runs in the late innings and ended Catholic University's NCAA baseball title hopes, 8-3, in a Northeast Region playoff game today.
Catholic, which tripped St. John's twice last week to win the ECAC playoffs and a berth in the regionals, continued their climb by beating Seton Hall, 4-3, Thursday. Temple dealt Catholic its first loss Friday night, 10-3, in the double-elimination tournament before St. John's an at-large selection, ended CU's season.
"We came back and beat St. John's twice at princeton. It's not easy to beat a good team three times in a week," said Catholic coach Bob Talbot.
Catholic outfielder Al Perez thought it was a mistake for St. John's even to be here. "They lose twice to us in the playoffs and yet they get invited," said the former O'Connell High All-Met. They're a tough team but they still shouldn't have been here."
St. John's (31-8) proved otherwise. All nine players hit safely, totaling 13 bits.
With the score tied, 1-1, the Redmen bounded out four hits for three runs in off Catholic starter Joe Mayer to take a 4-1 lead.
Catholic managed only five hits, one of them a home run by Reilly Shaughnessy, through seven innings. The pesky Cardinals reached St. John's starter Gerald Callaghan in the eight for two runs on a single by Bruce Cudmore, to cut their deficit to 4-3.
They had the bases loaded, with one out, when Steve Bingham, a hard-throwing freshman, relieved Callaghan.
With Mike Yeager at bat CU attempted a suicide squeeze. Bingham's pitch out was high and outside. Yeager couldn't reach it and Cudmore, breaking on the pitch, was an easy out at the plate. Yeager struck out to end the inning.
"They guessed right and threw a pitchout," said Talbot. "That was the big one for us."
St. John's wrapped the game up with four more runs in the eighth. Jim O'Connor and Don Troyan blasted home runs over the 322-foot sign in right field.
Val VanDeventer (two doubles), Matt Krukjian and Cudmore each had two hits for Catholic, which ended its season at 18-8.
With two outs in the ninth and Catholic's Tim McCormick batting, St. John's players began yelling, "It's back to earth, Catholic."
It was a hard fall. But, Catholic returns 20 players next year.