Thursday, March 11, 2021

WCU Baseball: St. John's

Up next for the Catamounts will be the visiting Red Storm from St. John's University. St. John's brings an undefeated 7-0 record to Cullowhee. The Red Storm swept both UMass Lowell and Sacred Heart at home in Queens, NY, this will be St. John's first road games of the season.

When: Friday-Sunday, March 12-14, 2021, at 5 pm, 5 pm, noon
Where: Childress Field at Hennon Stadium, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: none 
TV/video: ESPN+
Live Stats: WCU Live stats
Conference: Big East
Location: Queens, NY
Mascot: Red Storm
Colors: Red, Navy Blue, White
St. John's Fan Message Board: The Knight Report

Head Coach: Mike Hampton -  
Years at St. John’s: 20th Season Overall (2nd as HC)
Record as Head Coach (Yrs.): 8-9 (2)

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 26/9 
Starters Returning/Lost: 7/2 
Pitchers Returning/Lost: 11/2 
Newcomers: 11 

2021 St. John's Baseball Record: 7-0 overall, 0-0 conf., 7-0 home, 0-0 away, 0-0 neutral
2020 St. John's Baseball Record: 5-9 overall, 0-0 conf., 2-0 home, 3-9 away, 0-0 neutral

The Series: The Catamounts and Red Storm have played a total of 6 games, with the Cats holding a 4-2 record in the series. The two teams last met in Feb. 2019 and split a two-game series. 

The Red Storm was predicted to finish fourth in a preseason poll of the BIG EAST’s coaches. Connecticut was picked to win the league in its first year back followed by Creighton and Seton Hall, respectively.  

All three of the Red Storm’s weekend starters from last season are set to return for the Johnnies in 2021. Nick Mondak started the Friday game of all four series for the Red Storm last season, going 0-3 with a 4.29 ERA. In his season opener, he struck out seven, walked one and gave up two unearned runs to take a hard-luck loss against Kennesaw State. Ian Murphy burst onto the scene in his first start of 2020, striking out nine in 5.0 scoreless innings at No. 19 Georgia Tech. On the season, he struck out 18 batters in 17.0 innings of work while surrendering 11 walks.  Joe Joe Rodriguez will likely come out of the bullpen in 2021 after serving as the team’s Saturday starter in 2020. 

David Williams, a two-year standout at Lackawanna Community College, launched seven home runs and tallied 18 RBIs in just 15 games during the shortened 2020 season. He left the yard in each of his last five and seven of his final nine contests as a sophomore. • As a freshman, Williams helped Lackawanna reach the Division II JUCO World Series, hitting .284 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs while earning a place on the all-region second team. • Williams started all three games at first base for the Red Storm opening weekend, going 2-for-10 with a double. • Nick Cirelli helped Sacramento City College start the year off 16-4 before COVID shut things down, hitting .278 with four homers, 14 RBIs, 16 runs scored and 14 walks during that span. Cirelli reached base at a .430 clip and slugged .547 during his junior college career. • Cirelli had a standout high school career in California, earning Bay Area Player of the Year honors from the San Jose Mercury News after leading De La Salle to its third consecutive North Coast Section Division I Championship. • In his lone at-bat with the Red Storm so far, Cirelli launched a ball into the opposing bullpen for his first Division I home run.

Catamount Probable starting pitching:
Sophomore RHP Zebby Matthews (2-1) opening the series on Friday followed by freshman RHP Gavin Mortenson (1-0) on Saturday and redshirt junior RHP Ryan Mitschele (1-1) in Sunday's finale.

Red Storm Probable Starting Pitching
Friday starter Nick Mondak, Saturday starter Ian Murphy (2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA), and Brian Hendry, the Red Storm's scheduled Sunday hurler, currently sports the highest ERA of the weekend rotation at 0.93. 

As a staff, the Red Storm's ERA currently sits at 1.03 while opponents are hitting a meager .154. St. John's pitchers have struck out 69 batters in seven games while surrendering just 33 walks.