SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Although they never displayed it openly, you knew to a player that St. John’s had Friday’s return match against BC High circled several times on its calendar.
The Pioneers were beaten handedly by the Eagles in Dorchester last month and were chomping at for a redemption shot. Jumping out to a 3-0 lead after one inning, St. John’s did precisely what it set out the do having turned the tables en route to a 5-2 non-league victory at Pioneer Field.
“We have taken every team we've played just as serious as this game today,” said Pioneer third baseman Owen Shea, who contributed a pair of RBIs in the victory. “Yesterday after our game against Burncoat, we talked and made sure that all of us were ready for this one today. We came out hard early and managed to get the win. It's great.”
With Advanced Placement testing taking place this week, BC High coach Norm Walsh did not have a full unit to begin the game. Those players who were testing arrived just before first pitch. That being the case, Walsh had to maneuver his lineup some and had to use a junior varsity pitcher (Sam Telman) on the hill.
St. John’s (14-2) wasted little time getting to Telman, a righty. Tom Petry led off the Pioneer first with a double. Two outs later, Shea followed with a wind-blown double to right scoring Petry. Shea took third on the play after Eagle third baseman Justin Silvestro, taking the cutoff throw, fired home trying to nail Petry but the ball sailed on catcher Bobby Melley hitting the backstop. Moments later Scott Manea belted a double to center plating Shea with the Pioneers’ second run.
Telman woes would continue. Following Manea's hit, Jake Byrne next smacked a single to left scoring Manea with St. John’s third run.
“They took advantage of my JV guy,” said Walsh, his club falling to 12-3. “We could have bailed him out I think with some better play in the outfield. It was tough, wind conditions today and the balls were hit pretty hard. Them scoring three in the first was certainly the difference today.”
Pioneer starter Ben White, despite playing with a stomach virus, was holding the Eagles in check over the first three frames, issuing no hits. But in the fourth, BC High (which defeated the Pioneers 11-5 three weeks ago for St. John's last loss) started to make some noise against the junior righthander.
With one out, Chuckie Connors reached on a Petry error at shortstop. White then struck out Silvestro but couldn’t escape the power of Brian Hocking. The senior roped an 0-1 pitch over the left field fence to bring the Eagles back to within a run. Following the blast, BC High proceeded to load the bases but White (4-0) avoided further damage by striking out Rich Roach.
Following the gutty fourth, White’s day was done. Senior Anthony Perry took over and it was up to him to maintain the lead. The lefty pitched was flawless in his three innings of work, surrendering just one hit.
In between, St. John’s was able to tack on a couple of more runs on Perry's behalf. In the fifth, consecutive singles by Jimmy Smith, Nick Sieber and Shea produced the Pioneers’ fourth run. In the sixth they added one more on a Micah Cummins home run off of reliever Bartley Regan.
“Scoring early really helped us,” St. John’s coach Charlie Eppinger said. “We know BC High has an amazing lineup and I give Ben White and Anthony Perry a tremendous amount of credit. Our catcher Scott Manea called a great game and kept their hitter off-balanced throughout. Our kids really wanted this one today. It’s a great win against a great, well-coached program.”