DANVERS — In past seasons, St. John’s Prep has had some memorable baseball games with Braintree, so as a first-round matchup in this year’s Division 1 state baseball tournament, Monday’s game promised to be an early bonus.
But promises don’t always materialize. The 10th seeded Eagles (13-8) hung up eight runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 9-1 win over the 10-11 Wamps.
The Eagles are in action again Wednesday (4) at No. 7 BC High, also 13-8. St. John’s lost both games against the BC High this season, one a 16-2 laughter in Danvers and the other a 5-4 walkoff in Dorchester.
Just about all the action in this one came in the first inning as the Wamps scored their only run to start off the game, thanks to three Prep errors. The defense wasn’t much better in the bottom of the first, either, as Braintree made two errors. But more importantly, The Prep kept rattling off singles against the Wamps’ Anthony Carey on its way to putting the game away early.
The Prep sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, and got eight hits – all of them singles. Only one of those singles – a base hit to center field by Jack DeFilippo – produced more than one run.
Following suit, the Eagles collected 11 hits during the game, and all of them were singles, too.
Those runs were more than enough for sophomore Henry Hebert, who solidified his position as The Prep’s No. 1 pitcher.
“He’s our ace,” coach Dan Letarte said. “He knows how to get outs, and he’s always around the plate.”
Hebert was on Monday, giving up only two hits and striking out seven.
“And Braintree’s not a swing-and-miss team,” Letarte said.
“Getting those eight runs was huge,” said Letarte. “I was really impressed with the way we came out of the gate. And hitting like that is contagious. Once one guy starts, everyone’s up there hitting.
“And Braintree’s Braintree,” Letarte said. They’re a good baseball program.”
When The Prep’s Aiden Driscoll led off the base hit to start off the second inning, Braintree coach Bill O’Connell came out and got Carey, replacing him with Connor Grieve, who held the Eagles in check for the rest of the game. His only tough spot came in the bottom of the fifth when, with two outs, Nic Lembo and Cam LaGrassa drew back-to-back walks before Will Shaheen singled to right, driving home Lembo.