SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

April 3, 2013

Around the Horn: Area baseball teams managing sky high preseason expectations

The fertile ground that is the North Shore baseball scene looks to be overgrown with talent as the tarp is pulled off the diamond to begin the 2013 season.

On paper, its shaping up to be one of the most anticipated baseball seasons in recent memory.

St. John’s Prep alone has four Division 1 college ballplayers, and there are three other Division 1 commits in the Northeastern Conference Large division. Division 2 North finalist Beverly returns the bulk of its starting lineup, as does defending NEC South champion Danvers.

Every coach will remind you, however, that games are never won on paper. Locally, the hardball hierarchy is maintaining respect for the process of becoming a good team, and sticking to the notion that preseason rankings aren’t worth the paper a lineup card is printed on.

“We don’t take things for granted. You have to do steps A and B before you get to C,” said long-time St. John’s Prep coach Pat Yanchus, whose Eagles open with defending state champion Xaverian tomorrow.

Senior Brandon Bingel headlines the Prep’s four Division 1 college players. He led the area in RBI (25) last year and homered five times while turning in an earned run average of 1.98. He’ll play at Bryant University in Rhode Island next year and is joined on the SJP staff by Northeastern commits Dustin Hunt (0.83 ERA in 2012) and Mike Driscoll. Middle infielder Tommy Buonopane is the fourth Division 1 commit on the Eagles’ roster; he’s slated to play at Rhode Island.

For the Eagles, who also return captain Tyler Noe at third base as well as Keith Leavitt and Alex Moore in the outfield, it’s the start of a season they’ve been looking forward to.

“We’ve been waiting for this group of guys since we were on the freshman team together,” said Bingel. “The more we think about playing Xaverian out of the gate, the more ready we are. We know we have to be perfect to beat them, so we want to go out and do it.”

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