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HAVERHILL– The No. 2 St. John’s Prep baseball team just never got the bats going and saw its season come to an end in a 6-0 loss to No. 8 North Andover in the Division 1A “Super 8” final at Haverhill Stadium.
St. John’s managed just six hits with no answer for North Andover starter Brendan Holland (six innings, three hits, one walk and four strikeouts) or reliever Sebastian Keane (three innings, three hits, one walk and six strikeouts).
“I don’t know what it was,” Eagles coach Dan Letarte said of Holland. “When (Holland) played B.C. High they had so many pop ups and we had so many pop ups (Tuesday). We were too anxious. We just couldn’t get solid line drives. We knew Keane wasn’t starting so it was either going to be the righty or lefty (Holland). We have faced lefties. I wasn’t behind home plate but I would expect a lot of his pitches were ahead in the count too. He did a really good job. I give (Holland) a lot of credit.”
Max Gieg got the nod for the Eagles and despite the loss gave all he had, throwing 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
“Max threw a lot of pitches, up around 111,” Letarte said. “It was time to pull him (in the seventh) he gave us a chance to win but at 2-0 we still weren’t hitting. It’s tough. Our goal was to try to go up 2-0 early. If we weren’t we knew Keane was coming and you just couldn’t get that.”
The Knights got a quick run in the first inning. Thomas Finn walked and a wild pitch moved him over to second base. Keane plated Finn with a double for a 1-0 lead.
Gieg settled down after the first inning. The Knights put runners in scoring position in the fourth inning with a pair of singles and in the fifth with a walk and stolen base. But Gieg pitched his way out of both jams.
The Eagles were 90 feet away from tying things up in the fifth. Max Freedman singled with two outs and St. John’s executed a perfect hit-and-run with a single from Noah Schott putting runners on second and third base. But the Eagles couldn’t get the big hit they needed.
North Andover added a big insurance run in the sixth. Brett Dunham drew a 2-out walk and Eric Whitehead laced a double into left field to stretch the Knights lead to 2-0.
Keane came on in relief in the seventh but the Eagles weren’t going to make things easy for the Knights ace. Jack Cairns singled and D.J. Brooks walked to put runners on with one out. Keane struck out his next batter but Schott reached on an infield single to load the bases. The Eagles failed to capitalize on the chance with Keane recording another strikeout to get out of the jam.
“With bases loaded, if we get a hit there I fully expect it’s a different game,” Letarte said. “The momentum would’ve flipped especially against (Keane). But it wasn’t meant to be and that’s OK.”
The Knights piled it on in the ninth. Trevor Crosby’s 3-run double stretched the lead to 5-0. Brett Dunham came through next with a RBI single to put the Knights ahead 6-0.
The Eagles finish the season at 21-5.
“Overall this is a great group of seniors and great kids,” Letarte said. “This is my favorite team I’ve coached. Phenomenal kids and there was never an issue or problem all year. I’ll cry when I hug them but it’s been a great year.”