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St. John’s wins season opener in dramatic fashion

Chris Rassias got the start on the mound for St. John's Monday. (Item File Photo)

DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep baseball team started its season in dramatic fashion, earning a 2-1 walk-off win over Haverhill Monday afternoon at Pete Frates Field. Junior centerfielder Richie Williams came up with the game-winning hit, knocking a RBI single with runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“The Haverhill pitcher (Zach D’Urso) pitched so well the whole game, you kind of feel bad that he took the loss at the end of it after a performance like that,” said Prep coach Dan Letarte. “We were hitting the ball pretty hard all night, just right at people. It’s funny how this game works sometimes, we were just able to hit the ball in the right places in the last inning.”

Williams went 1-for-4 with a RBI and a stolen base, while senior outfielder Jake Miller went 1-for-3 with a RBI single. Senior right fielder Max Freedman went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a  stolen base.

On the mound, the Eagles employed a number of pitchers throughout the game. Senior Chris Rassias got the start, going two innings and allowing one run on one hit with four walks and three strikeouts. Senior James Lamarca (two innings, one hit, one walk, one strikeout) and junior Matt Remley (two innings, one hit, five strikeouts) pitched the middle innings, while senior Sean Letarte (one inning, one walk, one strikeout) got the win on the mound after pitching the final inning.

“Things were a little wild in the first, but after that all of the guys really settled down,” said Letarte. “Everyone did their job, we had guys going one or two innings, and things worked out. We only gave up three hits, so if we can continue to do that and just avoid the walks I think we’ll be fine.”

Haverhill got on the board early in the top of the first thanks to some sloppy pitching from the Prep. After a single and two walks loaded the bases with no outs, Rassias struck out two batters in a row and looked like he’d possibly get out of the inning. But he walked the next batter, Pat Kelleher, to bring in a run and give Haverhill a 1-0 lead. Rassias escaped the inning without any further damage after forcing a popout.

The score remained there until the bottom of the seventh. After the Eagles hadn’t registered a hit since second inning, Freedman finally broke the drought with a single to lead off the frame. He went on to steal second base and get into scoring position, then was sacrificed to third on a groundout by junior Jack Cairns. Next up was Miller, who laced a RBI single into left field to tie the game at 1-1. Junior Will Frain followed that up with a single, then the runners moved up to second and third to give Williams a chance to give St. John’s the win. He didn’t disappoint, sending a rocket toward Haverhill’s shortstop and beating out the throw to notch the game-winning RBI.

While the win is a great way to start the season for the Prep (1-0), Letarte knows the Eagles have room for improvement.

“We’ve really got to continue to work on hitting,” said Letarte. “We have a lot of pitchers this year, but we’re going to have to hit. And going up against Xaverian Wednesday with wood bats, we’ll have to find a way to get hits. If you can’t get hits with metal bats it’s going to be tough to get hits with wood bats, but we’ll see how it goes.”

St. John’s Prep visits Catholic Conference rival Xaverian Wednesday (4).

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