Saint John’s prevails over Colonials in baseball ‘Battle of the ’Bury’


Saint John’s prevails over Colonials in baseball ‘Battle of the ’Bury’
Shrewsbury’s JJ Ferguson dives back to the base after a pick-off attempt. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – Thursday night didn’t exactly go the way Noah Basgaard imagined – but it was still plenty good.

In his first start of the season, the Saint John’s senior lasted just 2.1 innings on the mound after suffering an arm injury. Still, Basgaard — the team’s clean-up hitter — stepped into the batter’s box moments later and connected with the first pitch he saw. The ball left his bat, pierced through the heavy fog, and roughly 340 feet later, landed beyond the Pioneer Baseball Field fence.

It was a tumultuous three-inning stretch for Basgaard, but his blast wasn’t just a feel-good story. While the Pioneers were tied 3-3 with the intra-town rival Shrewsbury Colonials before Basgaard’s at-bat, his solo shot gave Saint John’s an all-important one-run lead — a lead they would never relinquish.

“That’s probably the most emotion I’ve ever seen out of [Basgaard],” said first-year Saint John’s Head Coach Casey Cummins. “There’s not a bigger spot than to come out – you’re frustrated that you can’t finish the job on the mound – and get a hold of that one first pitch. It was such a big lift from a senior who realized, ‘I’m done contributing on the mound today, so I’m going to do it with the bat.’ It was incredible.”

Saint John’s prevails over Colonials in baseball ‘Battle of the ’Bury’
The Pioneers celebrate Noah Basgaard’s third-inning home run. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Saint John’s would ultimately win the rivalry match against Shrewsbury to the tune of 8-3. The game spanned almost three hours.

Coming off an 8-4 win against Malden Catholic less than 24 hours beforehand, the Pioneers started the scoring early. Led by doubles from lead-off hitter Jamie Herlihy and Jack Forgues, Saint John’s plated three runs in the first inning. With runners on second and third, the early-inning scoring was only stopped by an incredible defensive play from Shrewsbury second baseman Colby Coghlin, who snared a line drive for the third out.

“We didn’t start off well. We made three mental mistakes in the first inning, which is not good against any team, but especially against a team like Saint John’s. We dug ourselves a pretty deep hole,” Shrewsbury Head Coach Lee Diamantopoulos told the Community Advocate after the game.

Despite the early three-run deficit, the Colonials would work their way back into the ballgame. After JJ Ferguson – who reached base safely four times in the game – was hit by a pitch, Shrewsbury started to rally in the third inning. A walk here, a single there, and before long, the Colonials had scored two runs. Luke Harrington would soon walk with the bases loaded, knotting the game.

Saint John’s prevails over Colonials in baseball ‘Battle of the ’Bury’
Luke Harrington looks toward his dugout after walking with the bases loaded. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

After Shrewsbury evened the score, Saint John’s spent the next few innings playing with fire. Still in the third inning, the Colonials loaded the bases once more, with the inning ending on a check-swing strike-three call. In the fourth, Shrewsbury leveraged a single and two walks into another bases-loaded situation – but Saint John’s forced two quick outs and escaped. All in all, Shrewsbury left 11 on base throughout the game.

“We showed some character and came back and tied it up. We had our chances to tie it, even take the lead. We’ve just got to get through. It’s not due to lack of effort or our attitude… We just have to take advantage of our opportunities next time and I think we’ll have a different result,” said Diamantopoulos. “We definitely left a lot of guys on base… Next time we’ll hopefully find holes and it will be different. Today we didn’t.”

A trio of Saint John’s relievers – Zaid Moghrabi, Thomas Papagni and Forgues – and plenty of well-executed defensive plays held Shrewsbury at bay.

Saint John’s prevails over Colonials in baseball ‘Battle of the ’Bury’
Shrewsbury’s Michael Urbanik prepares to deliver a pitch. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“I always say that our pitchers need to realize that we have a tremendous defense behind us. Yes, there were a couple spots here and there, but… it was just an incredible job… We’re thankful to be a deep team,” Cummins said.

With the Pioneers ahead 4-3, the Colonials spent later innings trying to manufacture runs, several times attempting to bunt runners over. Shrewsbury’s Ryan Walker, who pitched four innings in relief of starter Michael Urbanik, kept the game close, but Saint John’s broke through in the sixth inning. The first five runners reached base in the inning, and the Pioneers plated four, making the game 8-3.

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