ITEM FILE PHOTO
Andrew Selima smacked a three-run home run for St. John’s Prep Monday.
By HAROLD RIVERA
BROCKTON — The St. John’s Prep baseball team needed a win over BC High Monday night to stay alive in Super 8 play. Behind four-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, St. John’s downed BC High, 9-7, at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton.
With the victory, the Prep advances to Wednesday’s Super 8 Final against St. John’s of Shrewsbury. Because St. John’s of Shrewsbury is yet to lose in Super 8 play, the Prep has to defeat the Pioneers twice in order to win the tournament.
It’s the third straight year the Eagles have made the Super 8 final coming from the losers bracket, as they lost to Braintree in the second game of the final each of the last two seasons.
St. John’s starting pitcher Jake Sanderson notched two quick outs to start the top of the first inning but ran into trouble looking for the third. Dave Driscoll singled and came around to score after an ensuing double to left-center off Sean O’Connell’s bat for the 1-0 BC High lead.
A pair of walks and an infield error loaded the bases for BC High in the top of the second. Gavin Riley took advantage with a two-RBI single to bump BC High’s advantage to 3-0. Tim Keohane was hit by a pitch to follow and Prep coach Dan Letarte turned to Casey Bussone for relief. Bussone notched the final two outs of the inning to keep the score at 3-0.
“BC High jumped out on our mistakes,” Letarte said. “They’re obviously a very good hitting team and they’ve gotten better with their hitting these last few games in the tournament. They’re too good a team to make mistakes on.”
St. John’s loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third but a rocket to third base off Frank DiOrio’s bat turned into a 5-4-3 double-play and the Prep remained scoreless.
“It turned into a double play,” Letarte said. “All of the sudden, I was starting to think it was one of those nights.”
“I think our guys, from the experience of being here before, they know not to get too high or too low. A 3-0 deficit is nothing in a long game,” Letarte added.
Luck started to turn in St. John’s favor in the fourth. After Dan Frey raced home on a wild pitch, Alex Lane tied the game with a two-RBI single. Two batters later, Lane scored on a wild pitch to give the Prep a 4-3 edge.
“When we got those two-four spots, that was huge,” Letarte said. “It felt like we were back and we could hit again. Last time we played them at BC High, we lost 2-1. Their pitchers were a little tired, they used a lot of them tonight and that’s tough. They’ve had to play three consecutive nights and that’s not easy.”
The Prep never looked back from there.
Andrew Selima’s three-run and home-run and Andrew Dembowski’s RBI single bumped the lead to 8-3 after five.
“We found our rhythm in those innings,” Letarte said. “But BC High came back, they’re tough kids and they play until the very end.”
St. John’s added one in the sixth on Chris Francoeur’s RBI groundout for a 9-3 advantage.
BC High slimmed its deficit down to 9-5 when it played two runs in the top of the seventh. Keohane sprinted home on wild pitch for BC High’s first run of the frame and Bobby DeMeo’s sacrifice fly brought home the second.
“BC High had a lot of solid hits,” Letarte said. “We helped them too. We had a lot of walks, hit batters, errors and uncharacteristic mistakes by our pitching staff. Hopefully we fix those errors before the next game.”
An error in the outfield, St. John’s sixth defensive miscue of the night, brought two more BC High runs home but Prep reliever Zach Begin fanned the final batter of the game for the 9-7 win.
“We can’t make six errors,” Letarte said. “BC High will jump on that and St. John’s of Shrewsbury jumps on that. We just can’t play defense like that.”
First pitch of the final between St. John’s Prep and St. John’s of Shrewsbury is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Campanelli Stadium.