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DANVERS — With the “Super 8” tournament in full swing, now’s the perfect time for St. John’s senior catcher Alex Lane to heat up at the plate. Luckily for the Eagles, Lane’s answering the bell.
The Division 1 Bryant commit reached base in all five plate appearances and ripped a 3-run home run in Wednesday’s 10-1 win over Mansfield in the “Super 8” opener at Pete Frates Diamond. Lane finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored, three RBI and three walks.
“It’s good to get going in the postseason,” Lane said. “Obviously these are our biggest games of the year. We’ve been swinging it hot lately the past four or five games. We’re putting up runs. Everyone’s hot, everyone’s hitting. We need those timely hits. Our pitching has been lights out all year. We only allowed one run (Wednesday). We just have to keep it going.”
St. John’s has scored 30 runs over the past three games (6-5 win over Walpole last Friday, 14-0 win over Peabody last Saturday, Thursday’s 10-1 win).
“We’ve all been sticking to our approach,” Lane said. “Everyone’s getting timely hits with men on base, driving runs in. We’re not trying to change too much, just keep it going, stick to what we’re doing because it’s been working. Our pitching staff has always been there to back up the offense so it’s our turn to carry the slack.”
Instead of feeling pressure as the implications increase with each game, Lane’s gaining confidence. He admits he started his senior campaign on a down note, so Lane fine-tuned the mental aspects of his game over the course of the season.
“I was hitting some balls hard at kids and they were outs, and I found myself getting frustrated earlier in the season,” Lane said. “I realized I just had to keep hitting the ball hard and they’ll eventually fall. It’s starting to work now so I’m keeping the same approach. I’m hitting the ball hard and whatever happens, happens.”
For the season, Lane has posted a .386 batting average, 19 RBI and three home runs. He has hit all three home runs over the past four games.
“I’m really seeing the ball well,” Lane said. “It’s just confidence. That’s the biggest thing.”
Lane saved his best contribution for last Thursday. His 3-run home run on his final at-bat of the evening put the game out of Mansfield’s reach at 10-1 in the bottom of the seventh.
“With men on base I want to drive them in,” Lane said. “The pitcher (John Carney) is actually going to Bryant too so he’s going to be my future teammate. He started me with a curveball for a called strike. Then he threw me ball outside and then a change-up which was a really good pitch. Then I thought ‘patience.’ He threw me a fastball and I put a good swing on it.”
With the win, No. 2 St. John’s jumps into the winner’s side of the bracket. The Eagles will take on No. 3 Walpole Saturday (3) at Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium. Last spring, the Rebels ended St. John’s “Super 8” run earlier than expected.
“This is the sixth year of the ‘Super 8’ and it’s our sixth year in it,” Lane said. “We’ve always been a top-3 seed. Obviously we’ve had strong regular seasons. We’ve been to the last game and lost it three years in a row. This time it’s just time to finish. We have the talent, everyone’s bought in. Everyone has showed up to team lifts and given 110 percent.
“We just have to keep it going,” Lane said. “We’re 1-0 but our goal is to be 4-0.”