Wednesday, May 31, 2017

St. John's Prep Puts on Offensive Showcase to Down Newton North in Super 8

St. John's Prep put on an offensive showcase in the Eagles first Super 8 game
By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)

DANVERS, Mass. - On Wednesday afternoon, the second-seeded St. John’s Prep Eagles opened the MIAA Division 1A Super 8 Tournament with a resounding 18-3 win over No. 7 Newton North on their home turf.

Yet for a program that’s gone home with a runner-up trophy in this double elimination tournament two years running, an opening-round win is merely the first step towards redemption. 

“It’s a long tournament and if you’re lucky you’ll go two or three more weeks,” Prep coach Dan Letarte said. “Winning this first game is huge because we lost our first one to Braintree last year and we had to take the harder route. We’re very humbled to be in the final six and we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

Newton North catcher Cole Whitehouse provided an early spark for the visiting Tigers (14-9) by homering to left field in his first two at-bats, giving seventh-seeded North a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom half of the third, but that’s when the host Eagles erupted with 16 runs on 17 hits over the next five frames to win going away.


With one out in the bottom of the third, eight consecutive Eagles reached base, as DiOrio doubled before center fielder Dan Frey and senior captain Chris Francoeur both added two-run doubles in a four-run frame. 

The host Eagles (16-5) chased Newton North starter John Grady after a 47-pitch third inning and didn’t slow down from there.

In a total team effort, the Eagles tallied 17 hits and walked seven times to grind down Newton North’s pitching staff. Letarte used four different pitchers to limit the Tigers, with senior Zach Begin earning the win.

“I like that we’re just hitting 1 to 9 and I’m happy with how they approached the game,” Letarte said. “Grady was 5-0 coming into this game and to get him at a high pitch count by the third inning just shows they came to play.”

St. John’s Prep tacked on a run in the fourth and DiOrio (3 for 4, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBIs) pushed the margin to 11-3 with a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. 

“The first one I caught off the end of the bat and the second one they gave it to me right where I wanted it, so I just attacked,” DiOrio said.

After a three-run opposite field homer from Andrew Selima and another couple of runs in the bottom of the seventh, the game was called after seven innings due to the 15-run margin, marking only the second time the mercy rule has been enforced in a Super 8 game.

St. John’s Prep will advance to face No. 3 Central Catholic in the second round of the winner’s bracket at a time and location to be determined. 

For DiOrio, who lost in the Super 8 Final to Braintree last year, and players such as Selima, who experienced the sting of defeat in the ultimate game of the season two years in a row, there is no greater motivation to perform in each Super 8 game.

“Losing [The Super 8] once is enough to drive me,” DiOrio added. “We as a team need to win this. Some kids have lost it twice, and I wonder how they feel, but after losing it once that’s not something we want to feel again.”

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