Cold bats freeze St. John’s Prep

Prep’s Jack Sarno struck out five Pioneers in four innings. Photo by Libby O'Neill

DANVERS — It was a beautiful day out for baseball, but unfortunately it was not a beautiful scoreline for the Eagles of St. John’s Prep as they fell to the Pioneers of Saint John’s (Shrewsbury) 7-1 on Monday afternoon.

The Pioneers played a complete game that started with their pitching, which kept the Eagles’ offense quiet all afternoon. When asked why they were not able to get hits, Head Coach Dan Letarte credited Saint John’s pitching.

“I think it was more towards their pitching. Their first guy had us unbalanced and then they brought in the lefty and I think they both did really well,” Letarte said. “That’s both their top pitchers and they used them effectively against us.”

The Pioneers took the lead in the top of the third inning where costly errors started to haunt the Eagles.

The Pioneers started the inning with a ground ball that slipped through the legs of the Eagles’ third baseman. Then a failed pickoff attempt allowed the runner to advance to second, where he would eventually score from a base hit up the middle. The Pioneers doubled their lead (2-0) after another single found a gap in the Eagles’ defense and brought home a baserunner.

“We had some bad defensive innings which led to some of their unearned runs,” Letarte said.

Things went from bad to worse for the Eagles as the Pioneers scored five runs between the fourth and fifth innings to give them a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

“They played a great game. They pitched well, they hit well, they put up a complete game together and we didn’t, which was evident on the scoreboard,” Letarte said. “They deserve a lot of credit. They came out swinging the bats. They had 13 solid hits on us.”

The Eagles struggled to find momentum until the bottom of the seventh when Yianni Andrikopoulos, pinch hitting, hit a deep ball to right-center field and showed his speed by getting to third for a one-out triple.

Andrikopoulos scored the Eagles’ only run after Cam LaGrassa’s RBI single. LaGrassa, the Brown University commit, finished the game 3-for-4 and was praised by Letarte.

“He’s a very good hitter and he played really well in the field. He’s just a really good player. I thought he played a great game,” Letarte said.

Despite not scoring many runs, the Eagles had some positive moments, one of which came from Christian Rosa on the mound in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on second and third, and only one out, Rosa kept his poise. He struck out the next batter and then forced a pop-out to end the inning unscathed.

“He’s a mentally tough kid. He’s a hockey guy and I think he played really well,” Letarte said.

Letarte said he is looking forward to practice to try and correct the mistakes that the Eagles made.

“We can learn from our mistakes. I’m glad we can go back to practice and work on things we need to work on,” Letarte said. “We just need to do a better job attacking first-pitch fastballs. Saint John’s Shrewsbury did that and had baserunners all day long and we didn’t.”