Scoring first was also essential for St. John’s, which came in as the favorite and didn’t allow any doubt to creep in by giving themselves an early cushion against McLaughlin.
“Those two walks (hurt) him,” Bingel said. “Besides that, he was getting his curve over just like I was and he pitched very well. It was huge for us to get on top in the first.”
Ruotolo came on for the seventh and eighth innings, striking out five of the eight batters he faced. He walked two and stranded both at third base after Tommy Bouonpane (2 walks) stole two bags in the seventh, and Tyler Noe stole second and took third on a wild pitch in the eighth.
The Tanners threatened in the eighth when David Hoar had a pinch-hit single and Matt Gonick followed with a pinch-hit double. Bingel struck out the side, though, and was extremely efficient with just 90 pitches in eight innings and no frames with more than 15. With both pitchers on, the game moved briskly and ended after just two hours and 15 minutes.
“I had pretty good command of my offspeed stuff,” said Bingel. “I was trying to pitch backward and was successful with it.”
Prep closer Dustin Hunt didn’t give Peabody a sniff in the top of the ninth, retiring the side on 11 pitches to send St. John’s to the North final.
Can the state’s top-ranked team, riding the longest winning streak in program history, get three more wins and that elusive state championship?
“They’re a very good team, but the thing you wonder about is with long winning streaks, could there be panic if someone takes the lead on them?” said Bettencourt. “We were hoping to do that, scratch some runs, just to see how they reacted. It didn’t happen.”