Alex Lane takes a cut during Saturday’s St. John’s Prep-Xaverian game at Fenway Park. (Rose Raymond)
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Xaverian nips St. John’s at Fenway Park

BOSTON — With a Catholic Conference victory on the line in Saturday’s game between the Xaverian and St. John’s Prep baseball teams at Fenway Park, there wasn’t much room for butterflies or jitters.

Once the game got underway, the Eagles scored twice in the first inning to get off to a quick start but couldn’t get anything going after that. A tough bottom of the second for St. John’s saw Xaverian push three runs across, all the Hawks needed for the 3-2 win.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” St. John’s coach Dan Letarte said. “I think when the kids got on the field there was that ‘wow’ feeling. I think they were a little nervous at first but then it’s baseball. It’s wood bat baseball too, so you have to scratch hits and runs. I thought Xaverian did a good job in that three-run inning.”

Eagles starting pitcher Jake Sanderson, a senior right-hander, threw three innings and allowed one earned run with two strikeouts. Sean Letarte came on in relief and pitched the fourth and fifth innings, while Kevin Dewing tossed the seventh.

“Our pitchers did a good job,” Letarte said. “Jake ran into a little trouble, then he pitched a great third (inning). He was up in pitch count. I thought Sean and Kevin did a great job. They kept us in it. We just couldn’t get any runs in.”

Xaverian starter Owen Langan also pitched four innings, allowed four hits and tallied seven strikeouts.

St. John’s, the visiting team, got off to a quick start in the top of the first inning by capitalizing on a pair of Xaverian defensive miscues. Jacob Bolger led the inning with a single to left and advanced to second base after Tyler MacGregor drew a walk. Alex Lane roped a RBI single, scoring Bolger with the game’s first run. MacGregor raced home on a wild pitch on the next at-bat, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

St. John’s ran into trouble in the the second inning, when Xaverian loaded the bases with one out. The Hawks scored three runs on an Eagles outfield error to claim a 3-2 lead.

“The ball stayed down but we play on turf,” Letarte said. “It was just a mistake. It was just a physical mistake but then we have to pick up our teammates after that. You look at the scoreboard and it was all zeros after that. That’s what we have to avoid, these one-run games and try to find a way to win.

“It was tough,” Letarte added. “We have to come back from that though. Two runs in the first (inning) and then it was all zero’s. We have to find a way to scratch runs.”

Things settled down from there for both sides until Richie Williams was thrown out at home plate to end the top of the fourth.

St. John’s loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. Joseph Muzio singled to leadoff the inning. Two batters later, Josh Cerretani followed with a single. Bolger drew a walk to load the bases for No. 2 hitter MacGregor. Xaverian relief pitcher Justin Posnik retired MacGregor on a fly ball to centerfield, ending the threat.

Runners on second and third with one out gave St. John’s a final chance in the seventh but a flyout and a strikeout ended the game and sealed the 3-2 Xaverian win.

“We just have to keep swinging in practice,” Letarte said. “We’ve done a lot of that. We just have to keep swinging. I’m hoping when the conversion from wood to metal (bats) comes, I think that’ll make a difference.”

St. John’s played a doubleheader Saturday. After the morning game at Fenway, the Eagles commuted to Catholic Memorial for a battle against Walpole, a 7-2 St. John’s win. Lane led the offense with 3 RBI, going 3-for-4. Zeke O’Connell went 2-for-3 with a solo homerun and 2 RBI. MacGregor went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and one RBI. Garrett Siegel tossed six innings with nine strikeouts and Matt Relihan pitched a scoreless seventh in relief.

St. John’s is 3-3 with the split. The Eagles are back on the diamond Wednesday when they host Xaverian.

 

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