Seton Hall Wins Third BIG EAST Title With 4-2 Victory Against St. John's

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Tournament Most Outstanding Player Joe DiRocco scattered six hits and allowed one run for his second win of the championship as Seton Hall won its first BIG EAST title since 2001 with a 4-2 victory against St. John's Sunday afternoon at Bright House Field. The fifth-seeded Pirates, who needed to win their last three games of the regular season to qualify for the BIG EAST Championship, finished as the only unbeaten team in the eight-team field, knocking off the tournament's top two seeds to become the lowest seed to win the BIG EAST title. Seton Hall (33-23), which had previously won the tournament in 1987 and 2001, earned the BIG EAST's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Working on three days' rest, DiRocco gave the Pirates six solid innings to improve to 2-0 for the championship and 8-1 on the season. He struck out four and walked two and didn't allow an extra-base hit during the tournament. The Pirates had just five hits, but made the most of them, beginning in the first inning. Seton Hall took the lead in the bottom of the first when Zack Granite led off with a base hit to center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and came home on Sean Gusrang's double down the rightfield line. The Pirates added a run in the bottom of the third without the benefit of a hit to take a 2-0 lead. Granite drew a leadoff walk, stole second, took third on a fly ball to center and scored on a wild pitch. St. John's answered in the top of the fifth when rightfielder Kevin Grove hit a leadoff single, took third on Paul Karmas's base hit and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jimmy Brennan. But Seton Hall added two more in the bottom of the fifth as Granite led off with a walk and the Pirates loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Sean Gusrang and a hit batsman. A.J. Rusbarsky hit a grounder deep to shortstop for an infield hit and took an extra base on an errant throw, bringing Granite and Gusrang home to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead. Seton Hall went to its bullpen to start the seventh inning and St. John's was able to get two men on when Jimmy Brennan singled to center and Joe Panik drew a two-out walk. But reliever George Fernandez struck out Matt Wessinger to get out of the jam. The Red Storm did get one back in the eighth inning on Rowan Wick's two-out RBI base hit to left that scored Kevin Grove. But again, St. John's stranded two runners as Brennan went down swinging against Ryan Harvey. St. John's had the tying run in scoring position in the top of the ninth as Panik hit a one-out double down the leftfield line and Jeremy Baltz drew a two-out walk. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, but Harvey got Robert Case on a grounder to second to end the game. St. John's (35-20) left 13 men on base, including six in the last three innings, in its bid for a record seventh BIG EAST title. The Pirates stranded nine men.