By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — “This one was for Ty,” said St. John’s Prep second baseman Tommy Buonopane after his four hit, four RBI performance led the Eagles to their tenth straight win, an 11-2 non-league victory over Bishop Fenwick.
Prep captain Tyler Noe was injured in the win over B.C. High earlier in the week, and until the results of the MRI on his shoulder are available, it is not known how long the hard hitting third baseman will be out of the lineup. Buonopane, who played on some outstanding Peabody West Little League teams with Noe, said nothing had been officially said before the game, but every member of the team was playing for their injured captain.
The top of the order did the bulk of the damage for St. John’s. Buonopane, a tri-captain, led off the bottom of the first by homering to tie the game at 1-1. The next time up he delivered an RBI single and later scored on a wild pitch. But he wasn’t done yet, blasting his third homer of the season and second of the game in the fifth inning, and finishing up with an RBI double in the sixth.
“It was a tight game for a while, but we had the long ball going,” said Prep coach Pat Yanchus. “Tommy hit better than for the cycle with those two home runs, double, and single. He got momentum going for us right away.”
With the victory the Eagles improved to 10-1 and qualified for the state tournament. No. 2 batter Nick Bragole, who took over at third base, went 3-for-4 with round trippers in the fifth and sixth innings. His second dinger was a three run shot in the big inning when St. John’s sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs to put the game out of sight.
Joe LeVasseur got the start for Fenwick, and gave way to Tommy Parsons after back-to-back homers by Buonopane and Bragole. James Dellisola came on to get the final out in the sixth.
“I’ve never had a day like this,” said Buonopane. “I never hit home runs, but I’ve been seeing the ball well and felt good. This is a nice team win; it took everybody to win this game. This is a big rivalry for us, and I’ve got a bunch of buddies in the other dugout. I played with a lot of those guys in Little League and AAU.
“When Noe went down it was a huge loss, and everyone is playing for him. We want him back on the field as soon as possible. This year when we started the season with that loss to Xaverian it fired us up but also kept us in check. Last year we had a bunch of wins, but then lost at the wrong time and were gone from the playoffs. We don’t want that to happen again.”
The lineup on both teams is filled with Peabody kids. For St. John’s Buonopane, Brandon Bingel, and David Bornstein all started. Fenwick starters included Gianni Esposito, Mike MacKenzie, Nick Bona, Eric Razney, and John Oliveira along with relievers Parsons and Dellisola.
The Crusaders (6-2) scored both runs off starter Mike Driscoll, who gave up four hits, walked two, and struck out two in three plus innings of work. Oliveira led off the game with a double and later scored on Esposito’s two bagger. After Brian Burke homered to lead off the fourth inning Driscoll gave way to Jack Burke, who retired all nine batters he faced. Evan Roberts set the Crusaders down in order in the seventh.
“Burke did a great job in relief,” said Yanchus. “He’s a sinker ball pitcher and gets a lot of ground balls. It’s tough not having Noe out there because he’s a great third baseman, and we miss him a lot. Tyler is also the nicest kid you’ll ever meet.”
Fenwick coach Kevin Canty was pleased with his team’s effort through the first five innings. He said he schedules tough games in order to prepare his team for what they will see in the tournament
“We played with them the first five innings, and that’s important. Our guys know they can play with anybody, but we have to keep working for the full seven innings. We kind of lost it in the sixth inning.
“We knew coming in that St. John’s is a very tough team; there’s a reason they are No. 1. The hits they got were on good pitches. We hit the ball hard, but they have a great infield. After Burke homered it was a 3-2 game. That was a big hit, but their relief pitcher stymied us for the next two or three innings.”
The Eagles banged out 11 hits with Alex Moore delivering a two run double and Keith Leavitt, Nick Latham, and Max Burt all singling. Defensively shortstop Bingel handled seven chances flawlessly.