DANVERS, Mass. -- Who says players don't look at the polls?
Apparently, St. John's Prep does and were not amused in regards to the position it found itself in by various media outlets.
The three-time defending Catholic Conference champs felt slighted they were not given a higher nod than third in the recent preseason polls.
But, mind you, polls are simply a matter of opinion. Where a team places now does not mean a whole heck of a lot. How you perform during June's postseason, and how you finish, is what matters most.
The Eagles will most likely earn a spot in either the MIAA Division 1A Super 8 tournament or Division 1 tournament once it arrives. But for now, Prep can only focus on what it can do on the field and not to worry so much about what takes place off of it.
On Monday, the Eagles put their complete focus on the situation at hand. Facing unbeaten Lincoln-Sudbury, Prep used a four-run second inning to help silence the Warriors 5-2.
It was a nice bounce back win for the 4-1 Eagles, who were dominated by BC High a few days ago. Senior pitcher Colin Nye handcuffed the Warriors through the first four innings before surrendering a pair of runs in the fifth. Nye, a right-hander, departed after allowing a lead-off single to Rory Bordiuk in the top of the seventh.
Mixing his pitches well, and hitting his spots effectively, Nye allowed five hits, walked three and struck out three. Nolan Webb came on in relief of Nye, and retired the next three batters to earn the save.
"We have a great team here," said Nye, who tossed 72 pitches. "We all play with a lot of fire. We want to come out here to fight and compete day after day. If someone wants to come onto our field, we will show them how to play the game the right way. I trust my catcher and all of my fielders behind me to make the outs. I'm always trying to keep my pitch count down and make the game easy."
After a strong opening inning, Warriors starter Justin Vandervelden ran into trouble in the next frame. After setting down the first batter he faced, the junior righty served up four consecutive hits and quickly found himself down 4-0.
Jack Arend starting things off by lining a single to centerfield. Chris Francoeur followed with a ground rule double, putting both runners in scoring position. Jake Spada's follow-up single scored Arend from third for a 1-0 lead. Then, on an 0-1 count, Vandervelden made the mistake of trying to elevate a pitch against Sean McGinnis. But the senior designated hitter picked up on it immediately and sent the ball over the left field fence for a three-run homer.
"I got a nice pitch in my wheelhouse and I just drove it," said McGinnis. "We seem to feed off of Colin [Nye]'s energy. It gives us that support where we can go out and do our jobs and he does his. We've been playing a bit angry. In the preseason rankings we felt disrespected. Seeing two other teams positioned in front of us, we sort of feed off of that and we take it out on the field with us."
Vandervelden's woes continued in the bottom of the third, as Frank DiOrio reached on an error. Moments later, a botched pickoff attempt allowed DiOrio to take second. One out later, Arend (2 for 2, BB) smoked a double down the right field line, scoring DiOrio for the Eagles' fifth run.
Uncharacteristically, the Warriors committed four errors on the afternoon.
"That was a big shot by Sean," praised Eagles head coach Dan Letarte. "It just lifted us and gave us that four run lead. That was huge for us to get on top of a team like [Lincoln-Sudbury]. So when we got out to a 5-0 start, it was massive for us. I thought, overall, is was a good all-around game by us."
While all of this was taking place, Nye was holding down his part. Through the first four innings, the Warriors could only muster one hit against him. Having only thrown 38 pitchers over that span, Nye was fresh and ready to come out for the fifth.
"Colin [Nye] did a great job pounding the zone today," said Letarte. "He pitched a great game. I also thought our defense was pretty flawless. We got a lot of ground ball outs because [Nye] was able to stay on top of his pitches against a very good L-S team."
Getting a ground out to begin the fifth frame, Nye then walked Bordiuk and issued a single to Jacob Shashoua. Next, Ian Herel hit a comebacker to Nye for L-S's second out, with both runners moving up a base.
Jon Rowe was called upon to pinch-hit. The senior came through by belting a hard single to center, plating both Bordiuk and Shashoua to cut the deficit to three runs. Nye managed to get out of the inning without further damage.
The Warriors (3-1) threatened again in sixth after putting a pair of runners on with two out, but failed to produce. Bordiuk's lead-off single in the seventh gave L-S reason for optimism. But that was quickly erased once Webb came on and slammed the door shut.
"One big hit by them that was the difference in this game," said Warriors first year coach Matt Wentworth. "We have played really good in the field but we made a couple of mistakes which costs us today as well. Overall, it is one loss against a very good team on their home field. There is nothing to be upset about in regards to that.
"After they put the four runs up, I told our kids there are two options in dealing with adversity. They could either lay down or show some heart and energy. I thought they did the latter. If that is the type of team I am going to have this year then I am going to be pleased regardless of the results that we have."
Big shoes to fill: Wentworth takes over a program that was run exceptionally by former L-S coach Kirk Fredericks, who was not retained at the end of last season after 14 years at the helm. During his time with the Warriors, Fredericks won three state titles.
Wentworth, who teaches English at the high school, is a North Andover graduate. He attended Union College, where he played baseball and soccer. Prior to coming on board at L-S, Wentworth served as an assistant baseball coach, soccer coach and ski coach at Concord-Carlisle High School.
"It has been an easy transition for me being at the school as a teacher," Wentworth said. "I've taught most of these guys so I had a good relationship with them coming in. I'm not trying to impose my will onto them because they already know how to play baseball. I'm not trying to push anything on them. All of the guys on this team have been very supportive of me.
"Some people have said to me 'You are like the guy who is going to follow Bill Belichick.' But I feel that I am in a bit of a different spot. This team has been fantastic and there isn't that sort of pressure on me. Everything we accomplish here will be the players' accomplishments and not mine. It is not about me, it is about them. I've coached enough where if I'm not myself, and try to be something different, then the players will know it right away. All I am doing is coming out here and being who I am."