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St. John's Baseball Ready to Take on Arizona in NCAA Super Regional

By Nigel Chiwaya | June 8, 2012 1:21pm
Junior Sean Hagan has a  2.58 ERA this season for St. John's.
Junior Sean Hagan has a 2.58 ERA this season for St. John's.
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Chris Chambers/Getty Images Sport

QUEENS — The St. John's baseball team will look to continue its run through the NCAA tournament Friday when they open a best-of-three super regional series against the Arizona Wildcats.

The Red Storm (40-21) are in the super regionals for the first time in school history after knocking off fifth-ranked North Carolina, 9-5, in the regional round on Sunday night.

Despite having four players selected in this week's MLB draft, St. John's is a heavy underdog against 14th-ranked Arizona (41-17).

But the Red Storm say they are used to being counted out.

"No one other than us expected us to be here," said junior starting pitcher Sean Hagan. "For us to advance any further would be completely unexpected. So we're going to go in there, keep the train rolling, stay loose and just play good baseball."

To win, St. John's will have to silence the bats of the Wildcats. Arizona has scored 16 runs in each of their past two games and won their three regional games by a combined score of 47-10.

St. John's counters with strong pitching. The Red Storm have allowed an average of 2.43 runs during their last seven games, all wins. And St. John's believe their offense can rise to the occasion as well.

"We know we can swing the bat and knock out hits with anybody," said senior outfield Matt Wessinger, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fifth round of the MLB draft.

The Red Storm is seeking a return to the College World Series for the first time since their third-place finish in 1968. St. John's had been eliminated in the regionals in each of the past two seasons.

Head coach Ed Blankmeyer believes the past experience is part of the reason St. John's shouldn't be considered an afterthought.

"These kids have been to three regionals. They believe in each other," Blankmeyer said. "I think we're just a good ballclub. Nothing flashy, nothing sexy. We just go out and grind and play."

First pitch is at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.