The target on the back of the Austin Prep baseball team is only growing larger as the regular season nears its conclusion and the Cougars’ loss column still reads zero.
Monday’s Catholic Central League showdown in Reading against No. 15 St. Mary’s and Northeastern-bound ace Aiven Cabral was another prime example of receiving the opponent’s best shot.
But top-ranked Austin Prep rose to the occasion, receiving another shutout from senior lefthander Evan Blanco and plating four runs off Cabral in the fifth inning to secure a 5-0 win and improve to 14-0.
“There’s no doubt there’s a target on your back,” Austin Prep coach JP Pollard said. “It’s our guys’ ability to stay in the moment and block out the internal and external noise. We don’t look ahead or behind and just execute what we work on in practice.”
The highly-anticipated pitching matchup between Cabral and Blanco, both Globe All-Scholastics last season, lived up to the hype through four-plus innings as the two aces dueled. Blanco opened the game with 10 consecutive strikes, struck out a pair in the second inning, and escaped the only threat of his outing in the fourth with a 1-6-3 double play.
On the other side, Cabral painted his fastball, dropped in his breaking ball for strikes, and cruised into the bottom of the fifth inning with no hits allowed on 44 pitches.
“Cabral’s one of the best arms in the state, he competes, and he’s not intimidated by anything,” Pollard said. “We had to stick to the practice plan and execute situational plays.”
In the fifth, the Cougars finally broke through. Thomas Fabbo led off with a five-pitch walk and Brenden Walsh and Josh Keith added singles to load the bases. With two outs, Jake Zawatsky came up with the clutch knock, lifting a fastball into center for a two-run single.
“I knew he had a long inning so I was just thinking up the middle,” said Zawatsky, a sophomore.
Will Burns followed with a two-RBI double to left and Austin Prep took a commanding 4-0 lead.
The run support was plenty for the Virginia-bound Blanco, who improved to 6-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.20. Blanco threw 95 pitches, 67 for strikes, struck out six, and induced nine groundouts as only one Spartan reached second base.
Spearheaded by Blanco, Austin Prep pitching has now allowed just seven runs in 14 games.
“We just focus on ourselves,” Blanco said. “Today, I just kept the ball low and relied on my guys in the field. It’s good to walk out of here with a smile.”
Bedford 11, Cambridge 1 — Senior Jake Morrison rapped out three hits and knocked in two runs, and Dylan DiGangi didn’t allow an earned run in four innings before giving way to Matty Forman in relief. Max Alper added three hits as the Bucs improve to 4-9 with the five-inning victory in the Dual County League.
Bishop Feehan 12, Archbishop Williams 3 — Senior captain Andrew Cook struck out three in three innings to start a combined three-hitter for the Shamrocks (10-3) in the Catholic Central League. Junior Brett Jussaume went 3 for 4, scoring three runs.
Bishop Fenwick 6, Arlington Catholic 2 — Junior Anthony Marino allowed just two hits while striking out nine for the Crusaders (7-10) to take the home win in the Catholic Central League. Senior Dan Reddick drove in two runs for Fenwick.
Canton 9, Oliver Ames 4 — Jack Digirolamo went 3 for 4, driving in a pair of runs for the Bulldogs (6-8) in the Hockomock win.
Central Catholic 13, Haverhill 2 — Sophomore Jack Savio (2 for 3) led the way with three RBIs for the Raiders (8-4) in the Merrimack Valley victory. Junior Kyle Bishop (1 for 4), Senior Ryan Cloutier (2 for 5), and junior Charlie Antonopolous (2 for 3) each drove in two.
Chelmsford 5, Leominster 0 — Freshman Matt Stuart gave up just one hit in five innings, recording five strikeouts for the No. 12 Lions (9-3) in the nonleague win.
Cohasset 3, East Bridgewater 2 — Luc Lefevre’s five innings of shutout pitching was backed up by a three-run homer by Nick Henrys in the first inning. Travis McKeen earned the two-inning save for the Skippers (6-4, 4-3 South Shore).
Dighton-Rehoboth 4, Case 1 — Senior Jaden LaFleur (1 for 2) drove in a pair of runs and classmate Samuel Watts went the distance on the mound, striking out four batters and allowing five hits for the Falcons (8-4) in the South Coast win. Seniors Hendrix Pray and Nathan Kulpa each recorded two hits.
Foxborough 3, Stoughton 2 — Junior Sean O’Leary’s single scored Jack Watts (2 hits, 2 runs, stolen base) in the 11th inning to give the Warriors the win. O’Leary also pitched 6⅓ shutout innings, striking out nine while allowing three hits and two walks. Cameron Prescott, Liam Mulkern and Tom Marcucella each added two hits.
Franklin 11, Attleboro 0 — Henry DiGiorgio (3 for 4, run, 2 RBIs), Evan Raider (2 for 4, double, 2 RBIs) and Jase Lyons (1 for 1, walk, 2 RBIs) paced the offense while Jacob Jette (5⅔ innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 7 Ks) was in control on the mound as the Panthers improved to 12-3 (10-2 Hockomock).
Greater Lowell 6, Shawsheen 5 — Jake Torpey hit the walkoff single as the Gryphons (4-6) dealt the Rams (11-1) their first loss of the season in the Commonwealth matchup. Jared Gaudette added a two-run double.
Hingham 11, Plymouth North 9 — Ben Cashman cleared the bases with a go-ahead triple for the Harbormen (6-4) in the Patriot League Keenan Division win. Jonathan St. Ange and Jeremy Aylward each went 2 for 4.
Lincoln-Sudbury 15, Weston 0 — Senior Thomas Dillon (4 RBIs) and sophomore Jake Haarde (3 RBIs) each went 2 for 2 for the Warriors (8-4) in the Dual County League win.
Lynn Classical 12, Malden 5 — Tyler Wilson (4 stolen bases) and Christian Spates (RBI) each went 3 for 3 for the Rams (11-2) in the Greater Boston League win.
Masconomet 15, Marblehead 5 — Will Dempsey and Logan Keune each drove in two for Masco (6-7), which erased a 5-0 deficit in the Northeastern Conference triumph.
Mashpee 8, Monomoy 5 — Sean Fancher went 4 for 4 with three runs batted in to lead the Falcons (7-7-1) to a win against the Sharks.
Medfield 18, Norton 3 — Junior Jack Collins recorded the Tri-Valley win with five innings and nine strikeouts for the third-ranked Warriors (11-1). Junior Scott Donahue went 4 for 6, driving in five. Senior Tom Shurtleff (2 for 3) drove in four. Seniors Nate Baacke (2 RBIs) and Jack Goodman (RBI, 5 runs scored) each went 4 for 4.
Milton 3, Braintree 0 — Senior Charlie Walker fanned 11 in a complete game shutout for the Wildcats (11-2) in the Bay State Herget Division victory. Junior Owen McHugh and senior Ryan Dexter each went 1 for 3 and scored a run.
Natick 3, Newton North 0 — Senior Jack Gerstein pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out eight. He went 2 for 3 at the plate as well for the Redhawks (7-5) in the Bay State Conference victory.
Norwood 4, Bellingham 1 — The Mustangs picked up their fifth straight win behind a nine-strikeout, six-inning performance from Jack Cropper, who added a two-run home run. Sean Dittmeier picked up the save while George Tolman and Bryan Metayer knocked in runs.
Plymouth South 2, Scituate 0 — Senior Jack Obert fired a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts as the Panthers (9-2, 8-0) picked up a key Patriot League win over the Sailors (8-4, 7-2). Naythen Ruehs went 2 for 3 with an RBI double. For Scituate, Jordan Barthel pitched 4⅔ innings, striking out five and allowing one run.
Sandwich 4, Bridgewater-Raynham 0 — Sophomore Connor Finn struck out 11 in a complete game, allowing just four hits and adding to his case with an RBI double at the dish for the Blue Knights (8-4) in the nonleague win.
Silver Lake 10, Marshfield 2 — Junior Jack Keane tossed a 10-strikeout complete game for the Lakers (6-7) in a Patriot League win. Junior Wes Staffier (4 for 5, 5 RBIs) and senior Sam Sullivan (3 for 4, 2 stolen bases, 2 runs) led the offense.
Somerville 6, Medford 1 — Aidan O’Sullivan went the distance, striking out 10 as he improved to 4-0 and the Highlanders (10-2) won the first-ever Tufts Classic game.
Southeastern 14, West Bridgewater 2 — Joseph Tully (3 for 4) and John Graca (2 for 4) each drove in two runs, and Jared Graca struck out eight batters over four innings for the Hawks (7-3) in the Mayflower Athletic contest.
Swampscott 6, Stoneham 4 — Cam O’Brien earned the win, striking out seven in 3⅔ innings of relief to pace the Big Blue (8-5) to a nonleague win.
Wellesley 6, Needham 5 — Chris Kenney homered and knocked in three runs in leading the Raiders (7-6) to the Bay State Conference win.
Whitman-Hanson 3, Duxbury 1 — Sophomore Evan Yakavonis tossed a complete game and Aidan Barry recorded three hits to pace the Panthers (5-6) in the Patriot League win.
Correspondents Sarah Barber, Peyton Doyle, Emma Healy, Cam Kerry, Lulu Kesin, Brendan Kurie, Ethan McDowell, Vitoria Poejo, and AJ Traub contributed to this story. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com. Tweet scores @GlobeSchools.