St. John’s has won the last three regular season meetings and took care of Peabody in the tournament in 2000 North final (10-5) and in the quarters in 2001 (19-0).
The Eagles have five Division 1 college baseball players in Bingel, Buonopane, Tyler Noe, Dustin Hunt and Mike Driscoll. Peabody has had two, including Ruotolo, in the last nine years. St. John’s has won a dozen state titles in various sports since the last time Peabody won one in a boys sport back in 1993.
Adding to the drama, St. John’s Prep’s best player, Bingel, and his co-captains Buonopane and Noe, hail from the Tanner City.
For Peabody, tonight’s game is a chance to get some redemption for earlier in the season. It’s a chance for the Tanners (20-4, the program’s first 20-win team since ‘03) to measure themselves against the state’s best.
The Eagles know what is at stake. They want to send legendary coach Pat Yanchus (retiring at the end of the year with at least 481 wins) out with another championship, not a loss at Fraser Field. The winner of tonight’s game may have the inside track to the state title. If it is St. John’s, and they finish they job, they’ll be remembered as one of the best North Shore baseball teams ever.
Who knows what will decide tonight’s game? Both teams like to run, so it could be a stolen base, an error forced by speed, or a
great throw that catches someone running. It could be a great pitch, or a homer. Part of the beauty of baseball is that with deep bullpens, designated defensive players and pinch-runners, it could be just about anyone on either roster.
Miracle On Ice coach Herb Brooks said that great moments are born in great opportunity. For the 40-some players in uniform tonight, that’s what the game is.
An opportunity, both to help their teams, and to carve out their own place in one of the great rivalries on the North Shore.
Something tells me you won’t want to miss it.
Salem News assistant sports editor Matt Williams promises he was really at the Prep/Peabody game back in 2003. You can contact him at MWilliams@Salemnews.com, 978-338-2669 and follow him on Twitter @MattWilliams_SN. #StrikeOutALS.