May 31, 2008


St. John's stymies Texas


By Allen Brown Contributor


HOUSTON - The first game of the Rice Regional at Reckling Park proved that baseball is a game of inches.


The St. John’s Red Storm (42-14) bounced back from an 0-2 showing in the Big East tournament to defeat the Big 12 Tournament champion Texas Longhorns (37-21) by a 2-1 count Friday in front of a pro-Texas crowd of 4,218.

In an otherwise remarkably even game, the Red Storm was able to tally the winning run in the top of the ninth when shortstop Jeff Grantham barely beat out an attempted double-play relay throw at first base after hitting a chopper to shorts with one out and men on first and third to score Gino Matias, who reached on an error to lead off the ninth.


“I knew I had chopped it pretty good,” Grantham said. “I just put my head down and ran.”


Both teams had six hits and committed one error. The game was tied at 1 from the top of the third through the top of the ninth inning.

The real story of the game was the pitching of St. John’s talented lefty Scott Barnes. Barnes pitched 7.2 innings, allowing only six hits and a walk and one run with four strikeouts on 116 pitches in the sweltering Houston heat.


“I felt really comfortable…I was focusing on trying to hit my spots and make the ball move,” Barnes said. “…I was throwing lots of first-pitch curveballs to keep them on their toes.”


Said Horns coach Augie Garrido: “He got better with runners in scoring position, most guys don’t do that.”


Colin Lynch (4-1) picked up the win for St. John’s, retiring all four Texas batters he faced.

Kenn Kasparek was effective as the Texas starter, although he occasionally battled wildness. He walked five, including consecutive walks on two occasions. He walked the first two batters in St. John’s third, which lead to its other run.

No Longhorns hitter had more than one hit in the game.


“I am not worried at all,” said Texas’ Preston Clark. “We hit rock bottom in the middle of the season and came out of that so we can come out of [the losers’ bracket].”


Texas’ best pitcher this season, freshman Chance Ruffin, was named Saturday’s starter against Sam Houston State, which lost to Rice in the nightcap.

Senior right fielder Chris Anninos, a Texas native, had two hits for the Red Storm. St. John’s named Big East pitcher of the year, senior lefty George Brown, as its Saturday starter against the Owls.