GLOUCESTER — The Gloucester baseball team came into Friday’s non-league contest with St. John’s Prep looking to make a big statement. And with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, it looked like they were well on their way.
The Fishermen had the state’s top ranked team on the ropes and trailing by five runs with only six outs to go. The Eagles, however, showed their resiliency by scoring four runs in the sixth, tying the score in the seventh on a Sawyer Billings home run, and eventually prevailed, 11-9, in an eight-inning slugfest.
With the wind blowing out at Nate Ross Field, home runs were flying out of the park as the teams combined for eight roundtrippers, five for St. John’s Prep (15-1) and three for Gloucester. Ironically, not one homer found its way over the short right field porch; all were to left and center field.
“You can’t ask for much more then a game like that,” Gloucester (15-2) head coach Bryan Lafata said.
“People were hyping this game up — and it lived up to the expectations. Both teams really hit the ball well and when pitchers left the ball up in the zone, both teams made them pay. That’s good baseball.”
First-year St. John’s Prep head coach Dan Letarte admitted afterwards that he was readying his losing speech before the Eagles made their comeback.
Gloucester hit us hard all game, but we put some good at-bats together late,” said Letarte. “This is probably the third time I had a losing speech ready and had to change it up an hour later. This team fights until the end.”
With two down in the sixth, Billings started off the Eagles’ comeback with a double to the gap in left-center. Jacob Yish singled him in one batter later and, following a Mark Etherington single, pinch hitter Andrew Attar ripped a two-strike pitch into the right center field gap, scoring both base runners to cut the Gloucester lead to 9-7. Attar would come in to score one batter later on a Mike Gealsen RBI single.