DANVERS, MASS. -– The cardiac kids did it again.
Max Burt’s RBI fly to centerfield plated Mark Etherington in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 7-6 walk-off win for No. 2 St. John’s Prep over No. 7 Catholic Memorial.
The victory came less than a week after a similar rally salvaged a victory over St. John’s of Shrewsbury in nine innings.
“I’m proud of the kids. The kids just battled. We’re definitely resilient,” said St. John’s Prep head coach Dan Letarte. “With our team we just somehow find a way to win. We were in the same situation with St. John’s Shrewsbury. The kids work hard and we find ways to win.”
The Eagles trailed throughout the game, including 6-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth, but the Prep scored three times in that inning to eventually send the game to extra innings.
“It was a huge boost. We’ll do anything to get life. Even if you’re down you got to keep life, especially in baseball with a slow game. The team did great. We kept up. The guys on the bench and the guys on the field did not give up,” said catcher Michael Geaslen.
Catholic Memorial got off to a hot start, belting four ground rule doubles in the first three innings -- including a controversial play where the Knights believed they had a home run.
The Knights did a good job of attacking Eagles starting pitcher Justin Snyder, scoring one run in the first, two in the second and adding on another in the third for a 4-2 lead after three innings.
“It was nice for us to score some runs and get a lead. We haven’t hit the ball that great all year so to score six today was encouraging,” said CM head coach Hal Carey.
“Justin had a tough start, but CM hit the ball really well,” said Letarte. “Not every outing is going to be a great start, but your teammates are supposed to pick you up, which they did.”
St. John’s Prep slowly chipped away at the deficit, helped by two homeruns and a pesky lineup that would not give up.
Junior relief pitcher Justin Foley pitched a perfect 1-2-3 eighth inning to set the stage for Burt’s heroics to send the Eagles walking off with a victory.
“Justin did a great job. He hasn’t pitched a heck of a lot this year. He made quick work of the batters in that inning,” said Letarte.
“We can trust the bullpen. It’s good to see,” said Geaslen.
The Eagles really started to smash the ball towards the end of the game, but it was the long ball that really brought the home team back into the ball game.
Designated hitter Rosario Missiti and first baseman Sawyer Billings both went yard in the Eagles come-from-behind win.
Missiti’s homerun got the Eagles on the board in the bottom half of the second inning while Billing’s long blast started the comeback in the last of the sixth.
Billings had three RBI while Missiti crossed home plate three times. Michael Geaslen, Nolan Webb and Burt had the other RBI for St. John’s Prep.
The late inning mentality is something that Letarte believes will help his team down the road, especially in the tournament.
“What I like about this is in tournament games you’re always in tight situations. If the kids can come back in situations like this, we have confidence when we’re down two or three runs,” said Letarte.
All was not lost for the Knights despite the disappointment of blowing the lead and ultimately falling in extras to a very good team on the road.
“There were a lot of positives. Unfortunately there were too many negatives. We had that 6-3 lead in the sixth. With the pitching we had we shouldn’t lose games when we’re in that situation,” said Carey.
CM sophomore pitcher Tyler Bell pitched very well for the first five innings and helped his cause at the plate. His RBI double plated the first run of the game for the Knights and reached base four times on the afternoon.
“He’s our best pitcher. He’s had a great year. We went a little longer with him than we would with some guys,” said Carey.