By Phil Anastasia
Most teams start rallies with base hits or stolen bases.
Eastern seized the momentum on Monday with its glove work.
"When you turn a doubleplay, you get so pumped up," Eastern senior second baseman Nick Tierno said. "It's like, 'OK, let's go bat.' You have all the momentum."
In a remarkable display of defense, Eastern ended four consecutive innings with double plays in a 7-5 victory over Washington Township in a battle of Top 10 teams and Olympic American rivals.
Tierno, a La Salle recruit, was in the middle of three double plays and also delivered two hits and scored two runs for Eastern (5-0, 1-0), the No. 7 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Senior right-hander Steve Priolo went the distance for the victory. Priolo, a Marist recruit, allowed just two runs on four hits in the final five innings.
"He earned the right to stay in there," Eastern coach Rob Christ said of Priolo's complete game. "He didn't have his best stuff but toughed it out against a great lineup."
Priolo, the Vikings' clean-up hitter, drove in three runs and junior third baseman Tom Flacco collected two hits, two runs and two steals for Eastern, which lost three times to Washington Township last season.
The Vikings also got great work from senior centerfielder Ryan Delaney, who nailed a runner at the plate for another inning-ending double play and also singled and scored in a two-run rally in the sixth.
"This win was huge for us," Tierno said. "It shows what we're made of."
Eastern was 4-0 on a swing through Florida. This was the Vikings' first game against a South Jersey opponent.
"Our team showed some character," Christ said. "Our guys never flinched and came back to beat a quality team."
Senior first baseman Shaine Hughes, a Monmouth recruit, collected three hits and three RBIs for No. 2 Washington Township (3-2, 1-1).
Junior right-fielder Chris Hartz had two hits, including a double, and scored two runs for WT.
WT junior pitcher Mark Scarpa probably deserved a better fate as the Minutemen played some shaky defense behind him, especially early in the game.
The Minutemen made four errors, three in the first inning.
"Us being sloppy in that first inning was the difference in the game," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "They (Eastern) made the plays when they had to. We didn't.
"Our guys know it's a long year and that there will be ups and downs in the Olympic Conference. But you give a good team that many chances and it's going to hurt you."
Washington Twp. 210 010 1 - 5 9 4
Eastern 201 202 x -- 7 11 1
WP: Steve Priolo. LP: Mark Scarpa.
2B: WT-Chris Hartz; E-Nick Tierno, Jake Quinn.
Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.