SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

June 6, 2013

On Baseball: It doesn't get much better than St. John's Prep against Peabody

St. John’s Prep. Peabody. Folks, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.

Ten years to the day after these Division 1 baseball heavyweights met in a still-talked-about North semifinal, the Eagles and the Tanners are getting ready to do it all again tonight at Lynn’s Fraser Field (7 p.m.).

For North Shore sports fans, June 6, 2003 is one of those dates when you know exactly where you were. A loaded St. John’s Prep team touched the nation’s top pitching prospect, Peabody’s Jeff Allison, for an unearned run and clung to that lead. Allison then famously, and controversially, stole home with the go-ahead run in the eighth. Days after being drafted in the first round by the Florida Marlins, he returned to the mound from a position in the field to close out an instant classic.

If there were 8,000 people at the game in Lowell that night, there are 80,000 Peabody folks that would claim they were if you asked. It was one of the greatest high school games ever played between North Shore teams — not hyperbole, because it was No. 4 on the Top 10 list compiled by The Salem News four summers ago.

Tonight has the potential to be that kind of game.

The Prep and Peabody have combined records of 41-5. State tournament records dating back to 1996 don’t show a previous instance of two 20-win teams from the North Shore meeting in the playoffs. Since teams frequently played shorter schedules before that, there’s a good chance this is the first time it has ever happened.

St. John’s Prep comes in with a 21-1 record, a 21-game winning streak and the undisputed top ranking in Massachusetts. Repeat Catholic Conference MVP Brandon Bingel needed fewer than 40 pitches to beat Malden last Saturday in the tournament opener, and he baffled Peabody in a 14-1 Prep win back in April.

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