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St. John's tops Rutgers in BIG EAST Baseball Opener

Media Release March 20

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – In a battle of BIG EAST Regular-Season Champions from a year ago, St. John's used 12 runs and a strong performance from ace Scott Barnes to defeat Rutgers, 12-5, Thursday afternoon in the series opener at Bainton Field.

The Red Storm scored six runs in the first three innings and Barnes stifled Rutgers with 10 strikeouts and five runs on five hits in seven innings of work.

The Scarlet Knights dropped to 5-10 overall and 0-1 in the BIG EAST, while the Red Storm improved to 14-4 overall and 1-0 in league play.

In the first, Daniel Benedetti followed a leadoff single from Brian Kemp with a double to the gap in left-center field to give St. John's a quick 1-0 lead.

After a quiet first inning, Rutgers erased its early deficit in the second when senior Jon Gossard (Harrington Park, N.J.) drew a five-pitch walk to lead off the frame and freshman Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) followed with a two-run home run over the right-field fence. The home run is his third in his 10-game Scarlet Knight career.

The Red Storm climbed right back on top, however, with a five-run third inning with the most of the damage coming on a two-run triple from Carlos Del Rosario and a two-run home run from Gil Zayas to make it 6-2.

An inning later, the Scarlet Knights cut into the Red Storm's lead with a three-run fourth frame. Matthews continued his hot hitting with a blooper to center for leadoff double and, later in the inning with runners on second and third, Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) delivered a high fly down the left-field line that reached the wall for a two-run triple. Sophomore Brett Garlick (Livingston, N.J.) then drove Betteridge home on the next play with a grounder deep n the hole near the shortstop for an RBI single.

A Red Storm threat was quelled in the fifth when third baseman Tom Edwards (West Caldwell, N.J.) made a nice stop on a sharp grounder down the line with runners on and got the out at first to prevent a run-producing extra-base hit.

After a scoreless fifth and St. John's holding on to a 6-5 lead, the Red Storm built a four-run cushion with three runs in the sixth. Middle reliever Kyle Bradley (Howell, N.J.) put the first two runners on in the frame and a bunt was mishandled at first base, allowing the first run to come across. SJU later plated two more runs in the inning to build a 9-5 advantage.

Tim Morris drove in a 10th run – the fifth-straight game with 10 runs or more for St. John's – with an RBI single in the seventh and added an RBI triple in the ninth as St. John's cruised to the 12-5 victory. 

Rutgers starter Steve Holt (Toms River, N.J.) suffered his first loss of the season after giving up six runs on seven hits with two strikeouts in three innings. Barnes picked up the win to improve to 2-1, while reliever Ryan Cole struck out five in two innings of relief for SJU. Every Red Storm batter had a hit in their 15-hit attack.

Rutgers and St. John's will resume their series on Friday with a 3:05 p.m. game at Bainton Field. Sophomore righty Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against senior lefty George Brown for the Red Storm.