Hagan pitches Red Storm past ECU
Lefthander pitches into eighth inning as St. John’s tops Pirates
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Sean Hagan said it could have been very different early.
The St. John’s lefthander pitched into the eighth inning and got plenty of defensive help as the Red Storm beat East Carolina 2-0 in the first round of the Charlottesville Regional on Friday night. But one play, in particular, stood out and it came to end the first inning.
The bases were loaded with two outs when centerfielder Jimmy Brennan tracked a laser by John Wooten into left-center field and dove, just snaring the ball before it landed.
“That was huge,” Hagan said after scattering nine hits over 7 1-3 innings with six strikeouts. “That changed the game right there. That’s two runs if it gets by him, maybe three.”
Brennan, who had three hits and drove in the first run, said he saw the ball all the way.
The Red Storm (36-20) advanced to play No. 1 national seed Virginia on Saturday night in the Charlottesville Regional. East Carolina (39-20) will play Navy in an elimination game.
Hagan (7-2) left with runners on first and third and one out in the eighth. Closer Matt Carasiti struck out Wooten looking at the 10th pitch he saw, and got Chase McDonald to fly out.
In the ninth, Carasiti walked pinch-hitter Drew Reynolds with one out, and Corey Thompson beat out a squib to third with two outs, putting two runners on. A wild pitch moved the runners to third and second, but Trent Whitehead grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
For Hagan, confidence in his off-speed pitches was critical and kept the Pirates off guard.
“He was just one of those crafty lefty kind of guys,” said Pirates catcher Zach Wright, who 1-for-2 but struck out with two on in the third. “He had all of his off-speed stuff working.”
Mike Wright (6-4) allowed both runs and seven hits in eight innings for the Pirates.
St. John’s scored on a single by Brennan in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
The Red Storm twice turned double plays after East Carolina’s leadoff man reached, once when Hagan snared a shot right back at him after a leadoff single and started a 1-6-3 double play.
“It was going to hit me in the right leg,” he said of the bullet hit by Chase McDonald. “I kind of danced around it and it went in my glove and that was that.”
That was the biggest jam for Hagan until the eighth when he walked Zach Wright with one out and Ben Fultz singled, putting runners at the corners. That brought Carasiti on, and the Red Storm closer caught Wooten looking on a 3-2 pitch and got McDonald to fly out.
In the ninth, he walked pinch-hitter Drew Reynolds with one out, and Corey Thompson beat out a squib down the third base line with two outs, putting two runners on. A wild pitch moved the runners to third and second, but Trent Whitehead grounded to shortstop to end the game.
Hagan struck out six and walked two. Carasiti earned his eighth save.
The Red Storm took a 1-0 lead in the third when Paul Karmas drew a leadoff walk, was sacrificed to second and scored on Brennan’s second of three hits. They made it 2-0 an inning later when Jeremy Baltz and Matt Wessinger singled, Rowan Wick drew a walk to load the bases with no one out and Kevin Grove hit a sacrifice fly line drive to right field.