WORCESTER, Mass. -- Ben White has proven over the last couple of years that he is quite capable of pitching in any situation which presents itself. Spot the senior a six run lead and it is a near-certainty the opponent is done for.
Such was the case on Monday when St. John’s of Shrewsbury jumped on rival St. Peter-Marian for six runs in the first two innings, en route to an 8-1 triumph.
While the Pioneer offense did its job, the day belong to White. The tall, lanky righthander was in control throughout during his seven innings of work on the mound, holding the Guardians to just one hit while striking out 13.
"This game is always a big rivalry game for us," said White. "It has gone back many years. That team always competes and I know all of those guys over there. My catcher Scott (Manea) called a great game and my defense was strong behind me when I needed them to be. I was throwing my slider, my change up and my two-seamer and we just continued working it in the zone and it worked today."
St. John’s (3-1) took advantage of some early wildness from SPM righty Zach Zona. The UMass-bound senior, who tossed a no-hitter against Burncoat in his previous outing, got off to a rocky first inning by hitting a pair of batters sandwiched around a walk to load the bases with none out. Zona, who played for St. John’s his first two years before transferring to SPM last season, then issued another walk to Jake Byrne forcing in the Pioneers’ first run. Owen Shea and Joey Evangalista followed with RBI singles to make it 3-0.
Zona’s woes continued the following frame. He walked Mike Sullivan and, with two out, he induced a Byrne grounder to short. What should have been the final out instead resulted in shortstop Cam Frederick misplaying the ball to keep the inning alive. Shea followed that up by launching an 0-1 pitch deep over the left field fence to put St. John’s up by six.
"Zach was off with his control early on," Guardians coach Ed Riley said. "I give him credit for gutting it out there until he was relieved in the sixth. But when you fall behind after giving up three runs in the first and three more in the second against a quality pitcher like that, it is tough to comeback. Ben threw a great game for them and hats off to him."
The six runs proved to be more than enough ammunition for White, who will play at Holy Cross next season. White thoroughly mesmerized the SPM line up all afternoon. The Guardians lone hit came in the second on a Jon Roy infield single. From there, White retired the next 15 batters before a pair of errors in the seventh cost him the shutout as SPM (1-4) was able to get a run across.
"It was important for us to get going offensively,” said Pioneers coach Charlie Eppinger. "We felt our pitching and defense would take care of itself but we needed to score. We know Zach well having spent his first two years here at St. John’s and we know he’s a very good pitcher. That’s why we knew it would be important for us to get some runs off of him early.
"Ben is our ace this year. Last year he was our No. 3 and was sort of hidden behind two of our other pitchers. This year he is going to pitch in some big games for us from now to hopefully June. I thought today he worked hard and kept his composure. He was in control and Scott did a real nice job guiding him from behind the plate."
St. John’s added solo runs in the fifth and seventh innings. In the fifth, Micah Cummins delivered an RBI single and in the seventh, with the bases full, Guardian reliever Danny Bushe plunked Kevin Quinlivan to drive in the eighth run.