Thursday, June 1, 2017

Seymour Pitches St. John's (Shrewsbury) Past Belmont in Super 8

St. John's ace Ian Seymour (pictured here against St. John's Prep earlier this year) opened his Super 8 with a stellar performance.
By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

- Anytime Ian Seymour is handed the baseball, the odds of St. John's (Shrewsbury) winning rise quickly.

Not by accident, Seymour has blossomed into one of the top pitchers in the state. His fastball, change up and slider have become so recognizable that Virginia Tech wasted no time getting him to sign on the dotted line for next season. But before the senior can exhibit his talents in the ACC, Seymour still has unfinished business to attend to with the Pioneers.

During Thursday's opening round Super 8 tilt versus Belmont, the left-hander took care of business, putting forth a complete game effort to stymie Belmont 3-1 at Pioneer Field.

Seymour pitched all nine innings, allowing an earned run on six hits, striking out eight and issuing one intentional walk on a pedestrian 90 pitches. Simply put, the Marauders were left baffled all afternoon long.

"Ian did a very nice job for us today," said Pioneers coach Charlie Eppinger. "He was very efficient by keeping his pitch count low. Give Belmont credit for being aggressive. They didn't allow themselves to get into bad ball counts."

With the victory, No. 1 St. John's (20-3) moves into the winners bracket where it will meet No. 4 BC High (13-8) on Sunday at Rox Stadium in Brockton, beginning at 4 p.m. The Pioneers defeated the Eagles twice during the regular season by scores of 3-2 and 12-1. Eighth seeded Belmont (17-4) will face No. 5, and defending two-time champion, Braintree (14-7) at Rox Stadium on Monday in a losers bracket contest at a time to be determined.

From start to finish, Seymour was in total control. He was given a two run lead in the first inning and took over from there. Only once did the Marauders put a lead off batter on base. The rest of the time, Belmont was working from a hole.

"It was important for me to get ahead in the count early and then allow my defense to make the plays behind me," Seymour said. "That was crucial for us. In the first inning they hit a couple of hard balls off of me so I knew that I needed to adjust and start throwing some off-speed stuff against them on the first pitch. Belmont helped me out a few times by swinging at those pitches. I was trying to pitch to contact but also tried to get the strikeout when I could."

St. John's was given a slight opening to work with in the opening frame and took full advantage. After Marauders starter Nate Espelin retired the first two batters, the junior ran into problems soon thereafter. Jack Gardner (2 hits) walked and Sean Burke was struck by a pitch. Junior Tom Moschella (2 hits) soon followed by lining a single into right to score Gardner. Joe Fields next grounded a hard single to left, plating Burke for a 2-0 lead.

"We've been a great two out team all year long," Eppinger said. "Jack and Sean get themselves on base in the first and Tom, who had been struggling the last three or four games, comes up with a big two out hit to give us a lead. Then we score another. Those were big because that allowed Ian to pitch with a lot of confidence."

Espelin (6 IP, 3 earned runs, 7 hits, 3 Ks, 3 walks) was able to push the first inning issues aside by holding the Pioneers scoreless over the next four frames.

But with the way Seymour was cruising, one had to believe a two run advantage might be enough on this day. But Belmont had other ideas. In the top half of the sixth, the Marauders had a runner on first with two out. Senior Cal Christofori kept the frame alive by smacking an RBI double into right to make it 2-1. An intentional walk to Dennis Crowley proved to be the right strategy as Seymour fanned Max Meier to end the inning.

Now with the situation completely different, the Pioneers realized they would need to re-energize their bats in an effort to grab some insurance. In the bottom of the sixth, they did just that. A one out single by Fields (2 hits) was followed up with a walk to Pat Galvin. Junior Bailey Mikule came to the plate and roped a single into left _ his second hit of the game _ that scored Fields from second and put St. John's on top by a pair.

"Bailey had a great game for us," said Eppinger. "He has not had a lot of at bats but had two big hits today. His hit in the sixth was certainly big as it gave us some much-needed insurance."

After Espelin got the final out of the frame, Meier came on in relief to begin the seventh. Distributing a hard-breaking 12-to-6 curve, the junior shut the Pioneers down over the final two innings. Meanwhile, Seymour was able to shake off the rocky sixth by keeping Belmont off the board over the final three innings to come away with the triumph.

"Nate struggled a little in the first inning," said Marauders coach Jim Brown. "He gets stronger as the game goes on as it showed again today. He has been phenomenal all year for us. He kept us in it and then Max comes in and shuts them down for the final two innings. I felt we were competitive against (Seymour). He has a great change up. When you are throwing in the high 80s and comeback with a change up like, he is going to get some strikeouts. He is a very good pitcher."

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