Thursday, April 26, 2018

Livingston Comes Up in the Clutch to Squeak St. John's Past St. Peter-Marian

By John McGuirk (@PatsFan1313)

Worcester, Mass. -- Prior to start of his game against rival St. Peter-Marian, St. John's  coach Charlie Eppinger spoke about the differences between his current team and the one from a year ago that sailed through the Super 8 tournament ending with a championship.

This year, by his own admittance, Eppinger says the Pioneers will most-likely find themselves in daily nip-and-tuck affairs, and will need to scratch and claw for every run in hopes they will score at least one more than the opposition.

On Thursday, that scenario played out perfectly. Trailing by three runs entering the final inning, St. John's went on to score four in the top of the seventh to prevail 5-4 over the Guardians. 

"We have 13 new guys on this team so we need to start coming together," said Eppinger. "This was a good team win with a lot of different people contributing. I thought our pitchers today were fantastic. Today was a team building win and a team character win. It was starting to look like this could be a long season for us but this win today, I feel, helps bring a team together."

Playing up and down .500 ball entering this tilt, the Pioneers (4-3) found a way to do just enough with the game on the line.

In the deciding seventh frame, pinch-hitter Jack Herlihy led off by roping a double to right field. After Guardians' starter Carter Liston retired the next batter, the right-hander served up a single to pinch-hitter Christian Siciliano putting runners on the corners. 

Bailey Mikule was hit by a pitch to load the bases, however, ending Liston's (6 1/3 IP, 7 hits, 4 Ks) day. A Tyler Mudd ground out made the score 4-2. University of Maryland commit Sean Burke was then intentionally walked to fill the bases.

That set the stage for Matt Livington. Livingston jumped on an 0-1 fastball for a bases-clearing, opposite field double that put St. John's ahead to stay

"I knew we had the guys in front of me who could get on base," Livingston said. "I told the team before the inning that it doesn't matter how we do it. We just need to find a way to win. Today we had the pitching to keep us in this game and we knew if we could put runners on then we would have a chance to win. We see this victory as a turning point in our season. We've started off the season a little slow but I think this type of win is going to bounce us back for sure."

Junior fire-baller Michael Bean set down SPM (2-4) in order to pick up the save.

The Pioneers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third.

Carelli opened with a single and moved all the way to third after a botched pickoff attempt. With one out, Mudd lifted a saceficic fly to right to score Carelli. On the mound, Mudd held SPM scoreless through the first three innings. But in the fourth, Mudd ran into rouble.

A Kosta Drosidis single proceeded by a Aidan McAvoy double placed two runners into scoring position. Two batters later, Jared Kapurch lifted a double to straightaway centerfield to score McAvoy. Following a walk to Malm to load the bases, Bruno came home on a Matt Dumphy fielder's choice to push the Guardians in front 2-1. 

Mudd ran into more problems in the sixth with a little letdown from his defense. McAvoy doubled down the left field line and scored moments later on a throwing error. Casey Brenner was inserted as a pinch-runner and crossed the plate after another throwing miscue on a Dumphy grounder to go up 4-1.

"Overall, I thought we out-played them," said Guardians coach Ed Riley, serving the second of a two game suspension following an ejection

Riley watched the game from beyond the centerfield fence and was overall pleased by his club's performance.

"I thought we responded well for a young team," Riley said. "I told our team after the game that 99 out of 100 times we win that game. I told Carter that moving forward we are going to continue to need performances like the one he gave us today. I thought my assistant coaches (Todd Smith and Terry Reidy) did the right job by letting him come out to begin the seventh.”

Liston, still looking fresh, was able to work himself out of a jam in the sixth to keep his team in front. He came out to begin the seventh, facing three batters but only managed to record one out. Lamothe was summoned but was victimized by Livingston's two-out double (his second two-bagger of the game).

"Against (Liston), I think he got us out of our approaches a little bit early on," said Livingston. "We were getting ahead of ourselves. But later in the game we started to adjust."

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