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June 8, 2013

Relentless, deep lineup returns Prep to North final

Among the mottos of the St. John’s Prep baseball team is the phrase ‘One Way.’

It’s a team-first mantra that pushes every player on the roster to pull in the same direction. It’s also a bit ironic, since what makes the Eagles special is that they have much, much more than one way to hurt their opposition.

One of the deepest Prep teams in recent memory has won its last 22 games, an incredible ride that has them in the Division 1 North final for the ninth time. The top-ranked, top-seeded Eagles (22-1) will play Billerica or Westford Academy (who play their semifinal tonight) for the North final.

If seventh-seeded Billerica (16-6) beats No. 11 Westford Academy (15-7), they’ll face St. John’s Prep tomorrow at LeLacheur Park in Lowell (4 p.m.). If Westford Academy wins, however, they have graduation Sunday afternoon, so they’d face St. John’s on Monday (time and location TBD).

“Our goal from Day 1 was to win the conference, then try to get to the North final and go from there,” said co-captain and Catholic Conference MVP Brandon Bingel. “Right now all we’re looking at is (tomorrow). It’s one at a time.”

In three postseason wins the Eagles have scored 32 runs, and they’re getting contributions from all over the lineup. The top of the order did the job in the 18-1 tourney opener against Malden, with leadoff man Tommy Buonopane supplying three hits, No. 3 hitter Nick Bragole homering and cleanup man Keith Leavitt going yard as well.

In a 6-0 win over Chelmsford, Leavitt and David Bornstein homered. Senior Tyler Noe had a pair of hits and an RBI, as did sophomore Nick Latham and senior Alex Moore.

“I think 1-through-9 we’re pretty strong,” said longtime coach Pat Yanchus, enjoying his last tourney run since he’s retiring at the end of the season. “One day somebody is carrying us, and the next day it’ll be somebody else.”

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