Prep’s McGowan tames Malden Catholic bats

Prep’s Drew McGowan went six-plus innings Friday, allowing just one run on five hits against Malden Catholic. Photo by Libby O'Neil File

DANVERS — St. John’s Prep has hit the jackpot in the number of games scheduled for this holiday weekend, and Drew McGowan gave the Eagles just what they needed — a long, successful outing.

McGowan, a senior, went six-plus innings Friday in the Eagles’ 5-1 win against Malden Catholic in the team’s Peter Frates Game.

“We have three more games this weekend, so we needed something like this,” said Eagles’ coach Dan Letarte. “He pitched really, really well. This is the longest he’s gone.”

Malden Catholic coach Darren Svendsen was impressed, too.

“He established the strike zone and was very consistent,” Svendsen said. “He was dominating once he settled in, and he hit all his spots.”

McGowan gave up one run on five hits, walking only one for the 10-7 Eagles, who are putting on a late-season push to improve their ranking heading into the tournament (they are currently 10th in Division 1).

“Drew seemed to get stronger as the game went on,” said Letarte. “We thought he’d be out by the seventh, but he was pitching so well we figured we’d leave him in. We have all these games, so we’re going to need pitching.”

After the Lancers’ Andrew Bouguet led off the seventh by reading on an error (on a hard-hit ball to shortstop), Letarte went out and got McGowan, replacing him with Anthony Romano. The relief pitcher retired the side on one more hit.

Meanwhile, St. John’s offense did just enough. Four of its runs came across in the third inning, helped along by two Malden Catholic errors.

Marco Zirpolo led the inning off with a walk, and was erased at second on a force out by Nic Lembo, who later came around to score on Will Shaheen’s base hit.

Cam LaGrassa followed Lembo’s fielder’s-choice grounder with a walk, and ended up scoring on a wild pitch.

However, the big hit in the inning was a triple to deep center field by Nate Marston, scoring both Shaheen and Aidan Driscoll to make the score 4-0.

“That was (pitcher Frank Bernardo’s) first varsity start and we were proud of him,” said Svendsen, “Outside of that (triple), they really didn’t hit him that hard.”

“This was the type of game where we were able to get a lot of kids in,” he said.

St. John’s scored a run in the fifth inning when Johnny Tighe drove home Driscoll, who had singled.

The Lancers, 4-14, scored their only run in the sixth inning without getting a hit. Two Prep errors and a fielder’s choice drove David Zizza, who had been hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, home.

After the game, the entire Eagles team did a replay of the Bucket Challenge, a fundraiser founded by Frates, who died from ALS late in 2019 after a lengthy battle with the disease. Money raised from the Bucket Challenge went toward ALS research.

Frates played for St. John’s and Boston College.