St. John's Wins Record Sixth BIG EAST Baseball Title

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Tournament MVP Kyle Hansen pitched 6.1 innings of two-hit, shutout ball with five strikeouts as St. John's won its BIG EAST-record sixth BIG EAST Championship with a 3-0 win against Connecticut Sunday afternoon at Bright House Field.

The win gives St. John's (40-18) the BIG EAST's automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Championship, putting the Red Storm in the national tournament for the third time in the last four years. St. John's was the only team in the BIG EAST tournament to finish the week unbeaten as the Red Storm went 4-0 on its way to the title.

Hansen worked a combined 14.1 innings with one earned run and 13 strikeouts in two St. John's wins in the BIG EAST Championship. He was especially sharp in Sunday's title game as he allowed just two hits - a single in the second inning and a leadoff double in the sixth.

St. John's got the only run Hansen would need in the top of the third when Joe Witkowski led off with a base hit to left, took second on Matt Wessinger's single and scored on Joe Panik's double to right.

Panik had another RBI double in the top of the fifth, bringing home Wessinger, who had reached on an infield hit. Jeremy Baltz followed with a base hit to right, scoring Panik and giving St. John's a 3-0 lead.

Connecticut got its leadoff man in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth on George Springer's double to left. But Hansen got Mike Nemeth to fly out to center before striking out the next two hitters to preserve the shutout.

Red Storm reliever Bruce Kern got a double play ball to end the seventh and Ryan Cole worked out of a two-on jam in the eighth when he got Mike Olt to foul out to first.

Connecticut got the winning run at the plate with one out in the ninth as the Huskies loaded the bases when LJ Mazzilli reached on an error, Billy Ferriter singled to right-center and Ryan Moore was hit by a pitch. But Red Storm closer Daniel Burawa got his third save of the BIG EAST tournament when he got Pierre LePage to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

St. John's had 14 hits, consisting of 12 singles and two doubles, as the Red Storm withstood leaving 13 men on base. Panik finished the day 2-for-5 with two RBIs, while Greg Hopkins had a team-high three hits, going 3-for-4.

Hansen improved to 8-1 with the win, while Burawa earned his 11th save.

Springer was the only Connecticut player with multiple hits as he was 2-for-3 on the day. Elliot Glynn took the loss for the Huskies, falling to 7-3.

The BIG EAST tournament title was the Red Storm's first championship since 1997. The Red Storm also won the tournament in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1993. Sunday's result was the first shutout in a BIG EAST title game since 2006, when Notre Dame was a 7-0 winner against Louisville.

St. John's will learn its NCAA Championship destination Monday at 12:30 p.m. Connecticut and Louisville, meanwhile, learned Sunday that they will serve as two of the 16 regional hosts in the NCAA tournament. In addition to those three schools, Pittsburgh entertains hopes of securing a bid to the field of 64."