St. John's' No. 4 pitcher is apparently as good as its No. 1.
Three days ago, St. John's Scott Barnes buzzsawed Winthrop's lineup in a 4-3 Eagles loss. On Tuesday, the Red Storm's Matt Tosoni trumped his celebrated teammate, holding the Eagles to three hits in a 2-0 complete-game win.
"It was a horrible offensive display, is what it was," coach Joe Hudak said. "You got to give him credit, he hit his spots ... but when you get through a lineup three or four times, and we don't make any adjustments ... "
Tosoni wasn't overpowering, despite his hulking 6-foot-5 frame. His stuff wasn't as nasty as Barnes' repertoire, which had several pro scouts sitting in the stands.
But it worked -- man, it worked.
The Eagles never figured the big lefty out. Tosoni didn't walk anybody and retired 16 straight batters after Aaron Bonomi's third-inning single. He mowed down Winthrop's batters efficiently and quietly, relying on a submarine delivery and deceptive off-speed pitches.
Winthrop (2-2) only struck out three times. But more often than not, all the Eagles' batters could do was watch first baseman Tim Morris glove a relay throw just before their feet hit the bag.
"I truly don't know," said catcher John Murrian, who got one of the three hits. "We just didn't make the adjustments. That's definitely not a guy that should shut us out."
Winthrop's pitchers mostly matched Tosoni pitch for pitch but with no run support, had to settle for a solid effort. The Eagles only gave up eight hits, all singles, and the Red Storm (4-0) scored each of their runs after a Winthrop defensive yip.
But unlike the previous game with St. John's, where Winthrop battled and battled but never found that one missing knock, the Eagles showed no thunder in the bats. A day after shorting out the scoreboard with 19 hits and 17 runs, Winthrop was held to three singles.
"We didn't have one guy who made an adjustment, and he just kept throwing it, painting out there on the outside, throwing 72, 74," Hudak said. "When you fail to do that, you're not going to have a chance to succeed, and we didn't today, obviously."
The Eagles got close when Bennett Jordan led off the ninth by beating out an infield single. Tosoni balked Jordan to second, which wiped out a caught pop-up from Bryan Bogue, and Bogue made it count by lashing a line-drive out to center that moved Jordan to third.
But when Bryn Henderson's fly to right wasn't deep enough to plate Jordan and Kevin Nolan popped up to second, Tosoni had his complete-game shutout and the Eagles went searching for the Maalox. As Hudak said, losing by a run when you're rallying all day is one thing, but losing a 2-0, three-hit affair is one you know you should have had.
"It's not a lack of effort," Hudak said. "Our guys played hard, they tried hard ... just (weren't) being a very smart offensive team."
The Red Storm (4-0) scored in the first when starter Dave Carbonell was shaky, plunking leadoff man Brian Kemp and walking Carlos Del Rosario. Carbonell hit Chris Anninos with a full-count pitch to load the bases and went 3-0 to Morris, putting him on the edge of a benching.
"If he'd have walked him, he was out of the game," Hudak said.
But Carbonell bounced back, coaxing a flyout from Morris and only giving up a run after the rough start. The only problem was, the Eagles couldn't solve Tosoni (1-0) and get back the lost run.
Carbonell (0-1) left in the sixth in favor of Dane Yoder, who struck out one and walked one. Freshman Robert Lake came in and got out of the inning, although the Storm scored again, but he continued a fine relief performance with four strikeouts.
Josh McDonald pitched the final four outs and escaped a jam but once again, Tosoni couldn't be matched. He sailed through the lineup, punctuating it with a strikeout of Louis Ullrich before the ninth-inning fizzle.
The Eagles will play St. John's again in this weekend's Coca-Cola Classic, but first they have to worry about No. 4 North Carolina in the first game of the tournament. The Tar Heels and Winthrop clash at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
"Disappointing when you get a well-pitched ballgame like that and you fail to make adjustments offensively," Hudak said. "We have to take the blame for that, we as coaches. Got to make sure that somehow we get them to make adjustments."
• NOTE: Frank Viola threw out the first pitch. Viola, who attended St. John's before going pro, pitched for 15 years with Minnesota, Boston, Toronto, Cincinnati and the New York Mets, winning the 1988 Cy Young Award and the 1987 World Series MVP award. His daughter, Kaley, just completed her freshman year as a Winthrop volleyball player.
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