DORCHESTER, Mass. -– Dustin Hunt spun around, crouched and watched as a frozen rope launched by B.C. High's Dan Daugherty flew to deep center field with runners on first and third.
The St. John's Prep closer then pumped his fist and was swarmed by teammates when sophomore outfielder Keith Leavitt tracked it down, clinching a 6-5 win for the visiting Eagles.
"When it came off the bat I was like, 'Oh no.' It was hit so hard, and it kept going," St. John's Prep head coach Pat Yanchus said.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, but we definitely have faith in Dustin,” said Prep starter Brandon Bingel, who picked up a win after giving up four runs in five innings of work.
In the end, it was enough to propel No. 2 Prep (8-1) past previously undefeated No. 1 B.C. High (5-1).
After falling behind 3-1, Prep put together a five-run fifth inning to pull ahead of the host Eagles. Senior catcher Paul Crehan capped off the inning with a bases-clearing, three-run double to left field off of B.C. High starter Trent Berg, who left a fastball a little high.
Crehan had popped out in his previous two at bats and was looking for something he could hit a bit farther.
“I just didn't want to strike out, and the pitch came up high so I just hit it as far as I can. Anybody could be in that position, but I happened to be there,” he said. “I was pumped. I didn't know if the ball was going to go over (B.C. High left fielder Sean Webster's) head or not. The wind was blowing out, but I was pumped to see it go over his head.”
The B.C. High cut the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Tom Russo doubled in right fielder Tom Landry. They pulled within one with two outs in the seventh, but Hunt was able to complete the save with Daugherty's loud pop-out.
Berg effective in Losing Effort: Berg put together an impressive four-and-two-thirds innings for B.C. High. The lefty struck out eight Prep batters before senior Tommy Buonopane singled in pinch runner Nick Latham, kick-starting a five-run rally. Berg, who is more of a finesse pitcher, kept Prep off-balance with his two-seam fastball and looping curve.
Victory on the Basepaths: Latham's base running helped spark the Prep's fifth-inning surge. The sophomore pinch ran for Natty Cabral, who had been walked with two outs. He then stole both second and third base before scoring on Buonopane's in-field single.
“He's a smart baserunner, and he's pretty fast,” Yanchus said. “He's not just a good baserunner, but he's a good outfielder. We were going to put him in the next inning anyway, so might as well just have him run. It worked out nicely.”
Getting Away from the Heater: Bingel had a tough first inning for Prep, allowing three runs on three singles and a couple of infield errors. He said he used his fastball too much to start the game and was overthrowing. After the first inning, he settled down and used his slider to pitch three scoreless innings in a row.
“I started to pitch backwards, and that's what got be through the rest of the way,” he said
Injury Puts Damper on Win: Prep senior third baseman Tyler Noe suffered a dislocated right shoulder during the top of the fifth inning. After reaching second base on a Landry error, Noe stole third and B.C. High's Tom Russo landed on him awkwardly. He held his right arm and stood behind the Prep bench in a sling with ice on his shoulder. Yanchus said there was no timetable for his return, but his parents were taking him to the hospital to get checked out.
“That's his trowing arm and his good shoulder. It popped out, and it took him awhile to get it back in,” he said. “That's going to really hurt. He's great defensively, and he's our best baserunner. Hopefully he can come back.”
Enter Sandman: Hunt has had limited experience as closer for Prep but looked pretty solid against B.C. High. The Northeastern commit struck out three batters in two innings and had good control of the strike zone. He pitched two-thirds of an inning on Monday against Malden Catholic and needed only seven pitches to shut down the side.