The Tanners’ ace in the hole is Pat Ruotolo, who didn’t throw in that first meeting. He threw 101 pitches Saturday and is on four day’s rest. He’s also coming off shoulder issues, and Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt wouldn’t commit to his availability after his team’s win Monday night.
Peabody could also turn to junior Andrew McLaughlin, who is 7-0 this season and has thrown two postseason innings. He wasn’t a part of the St. John’s onslaught in April, either.
The Eagles and their Killer B’s — Bingel, Tommy Buonopane, Nick Bragole and David Bornstein — have scored 27 runs in two playoff games. They scored six or more runs 15 times and scored in double-digits on nine occasions.
A dominant Ruotolo, the pitcher who lived on the black of the plate while throwing three no-hitters a year ago, is one of the few pitchers in the Commonwealth capable of shutting down St. John’s (he struck out nine Eagles over nine innings in a no-decision in the 2012 season opener). That’s what makes tonight’s match-up so exciting.
Even if he does, you have to score to win and that means Peabody has to try to solve Bingel. The Bryant-bound righty allowed one baserunner in four innings against Peabody and struck out eight. The Tanners are in the midst of their best hitting stretch of the season, but they’ll need to be markedly better than they were two months ago.
St. John’s Prep and Peabody are the two towers of Division 1 athletics on the North Shore. Every 10 years they’ve met in a big game: the 1993 Super Bowl (won 36-0 by the Tanners), the 2003 North baseball semifinal and tonight’s anticipated clash.
Both baseball programs have made the state tournament every season since 1997, and combine for 29 seasons of 15 wins or more in that span. Since 1995, they combine for 15 sectional final appearances (16 with tonight’s winner moving on) and eight North titles.