LYNN — Two-time Catholic Conference MVP Brandon Bingel is as smart as he is physically gifted — and he has a pretty good sense of history as well.
Knowing rival Peabody High wanted to jump on his fastball, the St. John’s Prep senior outfoxed the Tanners by pitching backwards in a Division 1 North semifinal at Fraser Field last night.
Bingel struck out 10 and held Peabody to five hits over eight innings in a 5-0 Eagles win that came 10 years to the day after the Tanners beat St. John’s in this round of the tournament in 2003.
“It was huge for us, as a school. There was a nice little revenge factor,” said Bingel, a Peabody native. “For me, it’s my hometown and it’s always fun to pitch against those guys ... and to get the best of them.”
St. John’s Prep (22-1) won its 22nd straight game in front of about 2,000 fans and returns to the North final for the first time since 2010. They’ll face either Billerica or Westford Academy on Sunday at LeLachauer Park in Lowell (4 p.m.) as they chase their first state title since 2000.
Peabody (20-5) had no answer for Bingel, who threw first-pitch strikes 75 percent of the time. He was perfect the first time through the Peabody lineup, gave up two hits to George Tsonis (the first with two outs in the fourth) and a harmless bunt single to Steve Leavitt in the fifth.
“Bing was on. His slider, curveball and fastball were there,” said St. John’s coach Pat Yanchus. “He was getting ground balls, mixing in strikeouts and pitched very well.”
The Bryant-bound right-hander, now 8-0 on the season, went to a three-ball count just twice in eight frames. The first-pitch sliders and breaking balls ultimately left the Tanners helpless.