SHREWSBURY, Mass. _ Justin Snyder was so locked in that he had no idea of the performance he was displaying on the mound.
The St. John's Prep pitcher enjoyed his best outing of the season on Tuesday. The senior left-hander stymied St. John's (Shrewsbury) all afternoon, allowing just one hit and picking up five strikeouts to help lift the Eagles to a 2-0 victory at Pioneer Field.
"I was getting ahead of their hitters and was able to mix in some off-speed pitches," said Snyder, going the distance. "I didn't know I allowed just one hit so I'm pretty happy about that. I usually try to dominate the outside part of the plate.
"I throw a little harder and it's hard for hitters to get around on it. I also like to drop an off-speed pitch middle in now in then which is harder to sit back on and usually has batters grounding out. As long as I keep getting ahead of hitters and get ground outs, that's usually how I have success."
The victory improves Prep's overall record to 14-1. Although the offense didn't have the fire-power it has been accustomed to, on this day the Eagles didn't need it thanks to Snyder.
"Justin has been workhorse for us the past two years and today he put together his best game of the year," Prep head coach Dan Letarte said. "He gave us a great effort and had (St. John's) off-balance. That's what we need heading into the playoffs. When he gets on top of hitters and works the count he is tough to hit. He kept on hitting his spots. We also played error-free baseball today which always helps."
Pioneers pitcher Shane Combs was equally as impressive doing everything within his power to earn a victory. Against most opponents, Combs' performance would have been good enough to earn a triumph. But with his team not producing at the plate, the margin for error was all the more miniscule. The junior righty made a couple of mistakes which would cost him.
In the Eagles' second inning Rosario Missiti opened with a single. Next batter Sawyer Billings then drove a low fastball deep to center for a double, scoring Missiti. Prep managed to pick up an insurance run in its half of the fourth.
Once again Missiti (2 hits), playing the role of table setter, led off with a line single to centerfield. A pair of Combs wild pitches (off curve balls) advanced the senior speedster all the way to third. Jacob Yish, back in the line up after a length injury, hit a ground ball to third.
St. John's third baseman Tyler McKeon opted to take the safe route by throwing Yish out at first instead of going home with it to nail Missiti despite the fact that Missiti was only halfway down the baseline when McKeon had the ball. The result was a two-run cushion for the Eagles.
Combs, whose sharp 12-to-6 curve ball had the Prep batters fooled throughout, didn't allow a hit over his final three frames. The Notre Dame commit finished his complete game effort by allowing just three hits and fanning 11.
"St. John's Prep played a little better than us, so tip your cap to them," said Pioneers coach Charlie Eppinger, his team now at 11-5. "They got one big hit to get that first run. Shane really had them guessing with his curve but a couple of them spiked in the fourth and Prep runs the bases extremely well and that's how they got their second run.
"Shane needs to keep on pitching whether it be for us or over the summer because he is going to continue to get more dominant. His command continues to get better and better. For the most part he threw a lot of strikes today and pitched well enough to win. We just didn't get any runs for him."