WESTWOOD, Mass. -- It not often so early in a season that a starting pitcher is able to go the distance and hold the other team completely in check. Apparently Evan Roberts prefers to follow a different script.
The St. John's Prep lefty was nothing short of brilliant on Wednesday afternoon after limiting Xaverian to just a pair of hits and walking none en route to a 5-0 Catholic Conference victory.
Roberts, a senior, mesmerized the Hawks all afternoon as he mixed two moving fastballs with a off-the-table change-up, to keep Xaverian off-balance throughout his seven innings of work.
"I was able to command my fastball really well today," said Roberts. "I was throwing it downward and was able to get some tail with my two-seamer. My teammates really picked me up. They hit when they needed to hit and fielded wherever the ball was hit. That was the big thing. Everyone out there wanted the ball hit to them. Offensively we got some clutch hits when we needed to. We lost our first game (against Peabody) but now I feel we are starting to pick it up now as a team."
The Eagles (2-1, 1-0) weren't exactly hitting the ball all over the field themselves. What they did do, was come up with some timely-hits against Paul Regan and reliever Manny Peguero to inflict just enough damage.
Prep got to Regan (3.1 IP, 6 hits) for a pair of runs in the third. Rich Riley began the frame with a hard single to right field. Nick Latham next laid down a bunt single. Max Burt (3 hits) followed with another bunt for a hit but on the play, Regan threw wildly to first allowing Riley to cross the plate with the Eagles' first run. Moments later, Latham sprinted home on a passed ball.
Meanwhile Xaverian (1-2, 0-2) continued to be anemic at the plate versus Roberts. All afternoon, the Hawks failed to get the lead-off batter on and always seemed to be working behind in the count. After surrendering a nine run lead to BC High on Monday in which the Eagles stormed back to win 10-9, you had to wonder if that loss was still in Xaverian's heads. Hawks head coach Gerry Lambert preferred to not churn up the past but instead, praise the work of Roberts.
"He was on top of his game, threw strikes, worked ahead and changed speeds," Lambert said. "We're not there yet offensively. (Roberts) dominated us. On defense we need to do a better job in keeping the game closer. I had them for 2 earned runs and 3 unearned. We have to make routine plays in close games like this and if we don't then we are chasing teams.
"I thought they were workmanlike. I don't really remember them making any mistakes today, and everything starts and ends with their pitcher, who was phenomenal. It's the way you write up a strong pitching performance. That kid was very efficient."
In the top of the fourth, the Eagles offense was back at it. Mark Etherington lined a single to right. Sawyer Billings next doubled off the centerfield fence. Etherington never stopped running and a solid relay from centerfielder Noah Sorrento to shortstop Jake McLaughlin to catcher Andrew Elliott worked in unison to gun Etherington down at the plate. But Prep shrugged it off quickly. With Peguero now in for Regan, Rosario Missiti reached on an error and took second on a wild pitch. A walk to Mike Geaslen loaded the bases with one out.
Riley (2 hits) followed with an infield single to plate Billings with the Eagles' third run. After Missiti was forced out at the plate, Geaslen trotted home shortly thereafter on a single by Burt. Prep's final run came across on a bases-loaded walk to Keith Leavitt.
"This was a good win," Eagles first-year coach Dan Letarte said. "We got key hits at the right time and great pitching obviously. He threw strikes today and we made good plays in the field. We're a team that needs to keep scrapping. We know Xaverian is a good, solid team. Today we took advantage of a couple of errors and when you get good pitching and defense you are in every game."