SHREWSBURY, Mass. –- St. John’s coach Charlie Eppinger knew the Pioneers needed a standout performance from star pitcher Ben White, and he got just that, as the Holy Cross-bound righty led St. John’s (12-3) to a 5-1 victory over BC High (9-3).
White pitched all seven innings for the Pioneers, giving up just three hits and allowing one earned run. His control was pinpoint, walking no BC High hitters.
“That was the Ben White we’re used to seeing," Eppinger said. "He had one rough outing against New Bedford earlier in the year, and has been real solid since. We knew we needed a good effort out of Ben."
The Pioneers drew first blood in the bottom of the second, as senior Micah Cummins singled and later came around to score to make the score 1-0.
BC High answered in the fourth inning though, as senior Ryan Tufts hit an RBI double to bring classmate Jake Marotta around to even the score. After that though, BC High’s offense was literally nonexistent.
"For some reason, mentally we just weren’t there," BC High coach Norm Walsh said. "We’ve got to change that, we’ve got to come out hungry every single game. We got a little complacent."
Walsh also said that his team has been struggling as of late with the approach of opposing pitchers. Generally, Eagles’ hitters have been seeing fastball early in the count, and then see mostly off-speed pitches for the rest of their at bat.
"We’ve been getting pitched backwards, and we’re not responding in terms of making our adjustment at the plate," Walsh said. "That needs to change, and that’s what we’re going to see—not too many teams are going to try to throw the ball by us. We’ve got to understand that, it’s not like we aren’t capable of it, because we are. It’s all in the approach we have."
St. John’s began to develop some momentum in the fourth inning after Walsh took starting pitcher Tommy McDonald out to keep a limit on his pitch count. Freshman Drew Rosen drove in P.J. Browne on a ball hit to right field that resulted in error. Kevin Quinlivan hit a single in the next at bat to get Rosen over to third, and then got caught in a pickle between first and second that ultimately allowed Rosen to score from third.
Eppinger was proud of how many players had a hand in the victory.
"A lot of it is a team effort, the team has really supported him," he said. "We expect so much of Ben, sometimes I think one player thinks they need to do it all. We have 20 players on the roster and we trust all of them."
The Pioneers built the lead further in the sixth inning, as cleanup hitter Jake Byrne smashed a solo home run over the center field fence. After getting hit by a pitch, Cummins came around soon after to score his second run of the game, bringing the score to 5-1.
"The insurance runs are huge, going out 5-1 instead of 3-1 against a lineup like that, you take the wind out of their sails and give yourself some confidence," Eppinger said.
After losing 7-4 to BC High on Monday, the Pioneers’ coach said today’s victory was just the confidence booster that his relatively young squad needed going into the final stretch of the regular season.
"It’s time for us to compete at a state level," Eppinger said. "This gives us a lot of confidence that we can compete with anybody, but we’ve got to bring our A-game, we’re not going to be able to come out and play mediocre baseball and beat a good team."