Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe
Latin Academy senior pitcher, Sam Steeves, and Boston English catcher, Jessy Valdez, are such good friends that they don’t dare talk trash after playing one another on the baseball diamond.
Before striking out Valdez to secure the final out of a 6-3 victory at English High on Wednesday afternoon, Steeves gave up an extra-inning, walk-off double to his American Legion teammate on April 25.
Valdez called Steeves after hitting the game-winner last month to make sure his
future roommate for a post-grad year at Worcester Academy next year was doing OK.
“He tried to reassure me because I was pretty mad,” Steeves said of Valdez. “Now I have to do the same to him. We know how competitive we both are. I don’t want to rub it in.”
But that doesn’t mean that Steeves (3-1) didn’t enjoy getting revenge against their foe in the Boston City League North conference.
“I just wanted to get some redemption, pay back,” Steeves said after striking out 11 hitters and giving up four hits and two earned runs.
The top two teams in the North conference will qualify for the City Championships on Memorial Day weekend at English High. Latin Academy (9-6, 3-3 Boston City League North) still has to play the North conference-leader, Brighton, on Thursday and next Wednesday.
English (8-4, 4-3 Boston City League North) is 1-1 against Brighton.
“If we won it would have been a little more sure,” Valdez, who had two hits and scored twice on Wednesday, said after the loss. “We’ll see what happens. BLA and Brighton play twice more. This game would’ve put us in a good seat.
“We just had a bad game, a couple errors messed us up. We didn’t do the fundamental things. Hopefully next time we’ll play better. Hopefully we’ll see [Latin Academy] in cities.”
Latin Academy sophomore infielder Mark Guerard was 1 for 2 with an RBI double that gave the Dragons a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Steeves hit his first triple of the season in the third inning before being knocked in by junior outfielder Vincent Lopriore’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
“He’s a clutch player for us on the field at shortstop, on the mound or up at the plate,” Latin Academy coach Anthony Bernazzani said. “He always seems to come up clutch. I have a lot of confidence in him to make plays, make the right pitch and the right play in key situations.”
English got two runs back on junior first baseman Richard Gonzalez’s 2-RBI double in the fourth inning. Bernazzani said he was nervous before his squad converted a 5-3-2 double play to get out of the inning.
“We’ve been in that situation before and we haven’t executed,” he said. “They executed bunts, steals and team defense.”
The Dragons scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead and added their final run in the sixth.
English also scored its final run in the sixth when Valdez’s path from third to home was cleared by Steeves’s wild pitch. But Steeves struck out two batters in the final inning, included Valdez, to redeem himself all around.
The victory also qualified Latin Academy for the state tournament for the first time in four years.
And Steeves hopes the game, which was moved from Latin Academy’s soggy field, is not their last at English High, even though he was a bit intimidated by the large crowd that is known to gather at English.
“The crowd here is a little nerve racking, it’s a really big fan base at English,” he said. “I never played in cities. That would be great. Our main goal was states but cities would be great too. That’s what we’re going for now.”
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- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
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