Saturday, June 10, 2017

St. John's Shrewsbury Walks Off Against St. John's Prep to Make Super 8 Final

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

BROCKTON, Mass. - St. John’s Shrewsbury has been the top team in Massachusetts since the beginning of April, and now behind a ninth inning comeback, they are one win away from officially putting a stamp on it.

Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, St. John’s Shrewsbury battled back as Jack Gardner crushed a game tying double and Jack Fields hit a walk off bloop single to right as the Pioneers stunned St. John’s Prep, 4-3, in the Division 1A Super Eight semifinals at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton.

With the win St. John’s Shrewsbury (22-3) advances to the Super Eight finals while St. John’s Prep (16-7) drops into the one loss bracket.

The contest was a back-and-forth affair over the final two innings with three lead changes.

Pioneers’ coach Charlie Eppinger said it came down to senior leadership.

“Huge character out of our guys,” said Eppinger. “Jack Gardner our captain has just had an unbelievable season both behind the plate and at the dish and then Jack Fields another senior just does what he can with the pitch and we get a win.”

The game was even, 1-1, heading into the bottom of the eighth with both teams well into their respective bullpens.

St. John’s Shrewsbury was able to grab their first lead of the game in the frame as David Turco dropped a two out, two-strike RBI single into right centerfield that put the Pioneers’ on top 2-1.

One half inning later, St. John’s Prep responded.

Chris Francouer got the Eagles ninth inning rally started with a base hit to left, and two batters later Alex Lane came through with a single of his own giving the Eagles runner on the corners with one out.

Andrew Dembowski then tied the score as he grounded a single back through the box that plated Francouer and tied the game 2-2.

Tyler MacGregor made sure the Eagles went into the bottom of the ninth inning with an advantage. 

The junior power threat lined a go ahead knock into right field to give St. John’s Prep a 3-2 lead with just three outs to go.

The Pioneers, however, had a comeback of their own.

Pioneers’ two hitter Christian Jordan drew a walk to begin the rally, and Gardner came through with a game tying double into the left center field gap to once again tie the game at three.

A bunt moved Gardner up 90 feet to third base, setting up a battle between Fields and Eagles closer Casey Bussone.

Bussone got ahead 0-2 with consecutive fastballs before wasting a slider in the dirt to push the count to 1-2.

Fields, the Pioneers’ senior third baseman, sat on a fastball down in the count and got it fighting off the inside heater into right field for the game winning single.

"I was just trying to sit fastball and adjust to the breaking ball if it came," said Fields. "Once I saw a fastball I just wanted to go the other way to get the run in."

Ian Seymour started for St. John’s Shrewsbury and gave his team seven quality innings.

Seymour scattered six hits over those seven innings, walking just one and striking out seven.

He quelled multiple Eagles threats including one in the top of the sixth where he induced a groundball off the bat of Prep first baseman Andrew Selima to strand the bases loaded.

“Seymour’s performance gets overshadowed by the late heroics but he was fantastic,” said Eppinger. “He has been fantastic for us each year all four years.”

The only time the Eagles were able to get to the Pioneers’ left-hander was in the top half of the first.

Jacob Bolger doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch to put the Eagles up 1-0.

St. John’s Shrewsbury got the run back one half inning later as Jordan singled, advanced to third on a base hit by Gardner, and scored on an errant cut off throw.


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