St. John's Into Saturday's Baseball Championship Final with 2-1 Win Over Notre Dame

CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL
HIGHLIGHTS
INTERVIEW WITH ED BLANKMEYER
INTERVIEW WITH KYLE HANSEN

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Righthander Kyle Hansen struck out seven and allowed just one run on five hits in 7.1 innings as St. John's advanced to the championship game of the BIG EAST Baseball Championship for the third consecutive year with a 2-1 win against Notre Dame Saturday morning at Bright House Field.

St. John's (36-21) reaches the tournament final for the 10th time as the Red Storm go for a record seventh BIG EAST title Sunday. St. John's will face either Connecticut or USF in the final Sunday at noon ET on ESPNU.

Hansen, who tied the tournament record for career strikeouts in the win (32), retired the first 13 Notre Dame hitters in order and didn't allow an extra-base hit until Eric Jagielo's solo home run to start the seventh inning. It was Hansen's fifth career start in the BIG EAST Championship, with the Red Storm improving to 4-1 in those games.

Notre Dame starter Pat Connaughton was impressive in his own right. Bouncing back from a tough outing against St. John's Wednesday, Connaughton allowed just one run on eight hits in 6.2 innings with four strikeouts.

St. John's rightfielder Jeremy Baltz broke a 1-1 tie when his line drive to leftfield allowed Jimmy Brennan to score from third base. Brennan had led off the inning with a base hit to left and took second on Matt Wessinger's bunt single. Frank Schwindel followed with a base hit just over the infield to load the bases for Baltz, who delivered his team-leading 50th RBI of the year to make it 2-1.

The Red Storm had initially gained the lead in the top of the fifth on Kyle Richardson's sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded. The Irish threatened in the bottom of the fifth, putting runners at the corners with two outs, but Hansen got Mac Hudgins to foul out to first base to escape trouble.

Notre Dame tied the game at 1-1 on Jagielo's long home run to rightfield - his second round-tripper of the tournament and his 13th of the season.

Hansen improved to 4-5 with the win, while Stephen Rivera came on in the eighth to get a five-out save - his fourth of the year. Wessinger and Schwindel both went 2-for-4 for the Red Storm.

Designated hitter Ryan Bull went 2-for-3 for Notre Dame (30-27), while relief pitcher Steve Sabatino (0-1) took the loss for the Irish.


2012 BIG EAST Baseball Championship Schedule

Wednesday, May 23
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 1 - No. 3 Seton Hall 6, No. 6 Rutgers 1
Game 2 - No. 2 St. John's 12, No. 7 Notre Dame 2 (7 innings)
Game 3 - No. 1 Louisville 8, No. 8 Pittsburgh 4
Game 4 - No. 5 Connecticut 7, No. 4 USF 2

Thursday, May 24
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 5 - Notre Dame 9, Rutgers 0 (Rutgers eliminated)
Game 6 - St. John's 6, Seton Hall 3
Game 7 - USF 12, Pittsburgh 5 (Pittsburgh eliminated)

Friday, May 25
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 8 - Connecticut 4, Louisville 1
Game 9 - Notre Dame 4, Seton Hall 3 (Seton Hall eliminated)
Game 10 - USF 6, Louisville 2 (Louisville eliminated)

Saturday, May 26
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 11 - St. John's 2, Notre Dame 1 (Notre Dame eliminated)
Game 12 - USF (36-21) vs. Connecticut (31-25-1), 1 p.m.
Game 14 - Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12, 6:30 p.m (if necessary)

Sunday, May 27 - Championship game
(live television on ESPNU)
Game 15 - St. John's (36-21) vs. USF or Connecticut, Noon

All times Eastern