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September 6, 2009

The 10 Greatest North Shore high school games of the Last 20 Years, No. 4: Herculean Effort; Allison's 156-pitch gem, theft of home toppled Antonelli in star-studded showdown

Allison's 156-pitch effort, theft of home toppled Antonelli in star studded showdown

The two best baseball talents that the North Shore — and probably Massachusetts at large — has seen over in the last 15 years went head-to-head in the state tournament on a crisp night in June 2003.

What ensued when St. John's Prep and Peabody locked horns at Alumni Field in Lowell was an absolute classic. The Tanners stole a 2-1 win, figuratively and literally — a no-brainer pick for our list of the greatest high school games of the last 20 years.

In one corner was Peabody's can't miss pitcher, Jeff Allison, who would be Baseball America's High School Player of the Year, a talent who had already been chosen by the Florida Marlins in the first round of that year's Major League Baseball draft. He hadn't allowed a single earned run all year and was generally regarded as unhittable.

In the other corner was blue-chip prospect Matt Antonelli, an athlete in every sense of the word. He'd been the Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year in football and hockey, and was runner-up only to Allison on the baseball diamond.

Antonelli was, ironically, a Peabody native who went on to star at Wake Forest and was a first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006. He was easily the best high school hitter in the region.

Under his leadership, the Eagles relished the chance to hit the unhittable.

"There was over $3 million in signing bonuses on that field," noted Bryan Garrity, the Peabody High catcher who was a junior in 2003. "Pretty much everybody in the country knew of Matt, and the same was true for Jeff. To see two potential Major Leaguers go head-to-head in the same game, in the same year in school, and from the same town — you'll never see that again."

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