LYNN — It was a game you’d swear the team that won had lost…and vice versa.
These are the games that test one’s mettle. Even though St. Mary’s got moved up to Division 2 this season, St. John’s Prep is an annual entrant in the Super 8 baseball tournament, and competing with the Eagles is certainly a feather in the Spartans’ cap. The Spartans gave St. John’s all it could handle before falling 4-3 in 10 innings.
Even though his team won, Prep coach Dan Letarte muttered afterward, “we should have lost” while Spartan coach Derek Dana said, “this is the best we’ve completed all year.
“We didn’t play a perfect game,” said Dana, “but we competed with them. That’s the message I went to send. This is one of the best teams in the state, and we went toe to to with them.”
It was everything he could have have asked for, “except to win,” Dana said.
The other thing that could have been easier to take, from St, Mary’s perspective, was the way the Spartans lost. With Luis Vidal on the mound, Max Friedman reached on an error in the top of the 10th, and Rich Williams singled, with Friedman stopping at second.
After Sean Lang flew out to left, Harrison Fiscus drew a walk to load the bases. Two pitches into Fiscus’ at-bat, Dana had to come out and get Vidal, who has had arm problems in the second half of the season. Colin Reddy came in from center field and completed the walk.
With Josh Cerretani up, one of Reddy’s pitches got past catcher John Mulready and Friedman was able to come home with the winning run.
The Spartans, who had clawed back from a 3-0 deficit, tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning off Prep reliever Kevin Dewing. With one out, Josh Mateo drew a base on balls. Anthony Bono followed by smoking the ball between center and left. Even thought it was only a single, Mateo, running on the pitch, came all the way around to score, easily beating the relay throw from shortstop Tyler MacGregor. Bono then stole second, setting himself up as the winning run with only one out.
However, Letarte wasted no time in getting ace Jake Sanderson ito the game, and from there, Sanderson went to work. He fanned Vidal and got Kyle Ouellette to fly out to center.
Sanderson had to deal with a first-and-second threat with two out but escaped, and between Lee Pacheco, Bobby Alcock and Vidal the Spartan pitching staff kept the Eagles off the board for the next two innings too.
“We got a great game from everyone on the mound,” said Dana. “Our goal was to get a few kids in there”
St. John’s ran out to a 3-0 lead after only an inning and a half, but St. Mary’s cut into it in the bottom of the second when Mulready walked and eventually scored on Bono’s single.
The Spartans tightened things up in the fourth. Anthony Nikolakakis led off with a walk, went to second on a single by Pacheco and scored on a grounder to second by Mateo.
“Hats off to St. Mary’s,” said Letarte. “They showed a lot of spirit tonight. They always give us a good game.
“They are well-coached,” said Letarte, adding that he’s friends with the entire staff, especially assistant Tim Fila, with whom he played at Salem State. “They’re a great bunch of guys and we love playing against them.”