SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

May 8, 2014

St. John's claws back to top CM, win Catholic Conference

DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep baseball team hasn’t faced a ton of adversity this season, but with conference rival Catholic Memorial in town coach Dan Letarte had a feeling that might change.

He was right, and the way the host Eagles responded to the pressure CM put on them was indicative of why they took the Catholic Conference title.

St. John’s Prep came from three runs down in the sixth inning and won it on senior Max Burt’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to overcome the Knights, 7-6.

It was the Eagles’ 12th straight win as they improved to 12-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play, clinching the title for the second straight season.

“This is the first time we’ve been in a championship situation since Billerica,” Letarte said, referencing last year’s Division 1 North final loss. “We didn’t forget that. We found a way. This game was such a grind; it feels really good to win it.”

Winning back-to-back Catholic Conference crowns for the first time since 2006-07 meant a lot to the Eagles, who graduated six starters from last year’s dominant club (which won 22 straight).

The 2014 edition had 14 homers as a team, with two of them coming yesterday. Senior Sawyer Billings’ third bomb of the year was the biggest, a 2-run shot with two out in the sixth that cut CM’s lead to 6-5. St. John’s tied it later that inning as Mark Etherington reached on an error and was driven in by Ryan Spurr.

“We learned a lot from last year, and being a senior now we knew coming in that people thought we’d be rebuilding,” said Billings, a first baseman from Marblehead. “We knew we had talent and we’ve made it a point to pick each other up, up and down the lineup.”

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