Latin Academy’s ace pitcher Sam Steeves pitched in the Dragon’s city championship semifinal victory on Saturday afternoon against East Boston and won’t be available for Monday’s championship against North conference rival Boston English.
The Dragons (11-8) defeated the Central conference champion Jets 12-3 as Steeves (4-2) got the win by striking out 10 batters and allowing five hits in six innings.
But Steeves, who pitched twice against North conference champions Boston English during the regular season, will not get the ball in the title game at 10 a.m. Monday at English High.
“At this point in the season we’re down to a three-man rotation, it was his turn to come up,” Latin Academy coach Anthony Bernazzani said of Steeves after Saturday’s game. “You gotta win today to get to Monday. It was his turn in the rotation. He’s been our best pitcher and you gotta go with your No. 1 to get to Monday.”
Junior Vincent Lopriore will pitch Monday while Steeves plays shortstop.
Bernazzani said Steeves won’t be available to pitch in relief either.
“It’s not the smart thing to do, you’re setting him up for injury,” he said of Steeves. “Although he would [pitch] in a second. But I would never do that to him.”
English and Latin Academy split their season series. English won the first meeting, 5-4, on Jessey Valdez’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning on April 25. Steeves struck out Valdez, his friend and American Legion teammate, in the last at-bat to clinch a 6-3 victory in Latin’s May 16 meeting with English.
“Vince is also a very good pitcher so we’re excited,” Steeves said when asked if he was disappointed about not pitching on Monday. ‘We’re really comparable on the mound anyway and it’s a different look. As long as we get our bats going early like we did today, we’ll be fine.”
Latin Academy scored six runs in the opening inning against Eastie on Saturday.
“That’s what we talked about, coming out early and scoring a bunch of runs and playing tight the rest of the way,” Bernazzani said.“We played a lot of close games [this season] so hopefully we know what to do in a close game. We preached, focus on every single pitch.”
Bernazzani and Steeves said they fully expect Monday’s game against English to be close.
“We’re not done, we gotta get the big one on Monday,” Steeves said. “We’re trying not to get too excited about this one because English is much better than East Boston. The game is going to be tough. English is a good team.”
East Boston finally got on the board on Saturday in the fifth inning when senior infielder Kevin Lara hit a base hit but advanced the third when the throw to first was overthrown. He scored after a wild pitch hit the backstop.
The Jets (7-11) added another two runs in the sixth inning when sophomore Michael
Theriault hit a 2 RBI double that brought home junior Manuel Martinez and freshman John Cinelli.
“I was glad that we didn’t quit,” East Boston coach Phil Brangiforte said. “Latin Academy is a good team. They hit the ball well. We struggled to hit the ball but we turned it on at the end there. We hung tough. We’re a young team and we’re looking for good things.”
Offensively, Latin Academy was led on Saturday by infielder Brendan Woods who was 3 for 4 with an RBI. Sophomore outfielder Edward Funes was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
Lopriore, who will pitch Monday’s championship game, was 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
“Two good teams are going at it for the city title,” Bernazzani said. “That’s how it should be.”
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