By Matt Williams
---- — DANVERS — It was Senior Day at St. John’s Prep yesterday, but it might as well have been the Fourth of July.
The Eagles, especially their seniors, put on a fireworks display of offense in beating Gloucester, 18-2, for the baseball team’s 18th straight victory.
Nearly all the damage was done in an absurd second inning, when the Prep sent 20 batters to the plate while scoring 15 times on nine hits, two hit batsmen, two walks and three Gloucester errors.
Seniors Tommy Buonopane and Nick Bragole hit back-to-back two-run ground rule doubles to help the hosts break the game open. Senior Dave Bornstein later hit a three-run homer to punctuate an inning in which the Eagles (18-1) batted around twice.
Ranked No. 1 in Massachusetts for several weeks, the Eagles broke into the “Best of the Rest” portion of USA Today’s Super 25 high school baseball teams yesterday. The 18 runs yesterday were a season-high, but they’ve scored eight runs or more nine times. It’s a lineup that can feast on even top-line pitching, and with Gloucester (11-9) playing its third game in four days it was a perfect storm for the Prep onslaught.
“We caught them at a tough time. They had a long week and it seemed like they were out of pitching,” said St. John’s coach Pat Yanchus, who will be retiring after the season and coached his last regular season home game.
The Prep honored Yanchus before the game along with their seniors, with the school’s principal and headmaster presenting the Hall of Fame coach with a trophy to commemorate his 33 seasons on the diamond.
The Fishermen grabbed a 1-0 lead when Alex Webb knocked in Jason Vezina (walk) in the first. It didn’t last long, though, as senior Brandon Bingel doubled and Bornstein knocked him in to make it 1-1.
Up and down the St. John’s batting order, seniors contributed. Buonopane and Bragole were both 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored, Bingel scored twice, Bornstein went 3-for-3 with five RBI, Paul Crehan reached twice and scored once, Natty Carbal singled and scored, Tyler Noe was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for an RBI and scored twice, Alex Moore went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored, and Zach Rice reached twice and scored both times.
“It was nice to get all the seniors involved, and it was really nice we were able to play all of them,” said Yanchus.
Senior Jack Burke (”He’s pitched great this year,” Yanchus said) picked up his second win of the season, allowing one hit and one earned run in three innings. He also struck out four and gave up an unearned run in the third. Classmate Mike Driscoll came on for the final two innings, walking one and striking out three.
The game was stopped after the top of the fifth because St. John’s was leading by more than 15 runs.
The 18 straight victories is the longest winning streak by a Prep team under Yanchus, and also matches the 1998 Eagles for the most regular season wins. The Eagles can make it 19 straight wins when they face rival Danvers at the Twi Field tomorrow night (6:30 p.m.).