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Another Year on Top in South Jersey for St. Augustine Baseball

Another Year on Top in South Jersey for St. Augustine Baseball
What a run it has been for St. Augustine baseball. The Hermits should end up as the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey for the second straight year after beating Delbarton, 1-0, in an intense Non-Public A state championship.

St. Augustine finished 26-4 in winning what is traditionally one of the tougher sections in the state.

The Hermits also advanced to the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic championship before losing to an outstanding Eastern team, 4-1 in eight innings.

In winning the championship, the Hermits avenged last year’s loss 2-1 loss in the state final to Delbarton.


In this year’s championship, St. Augustine scored an unearned run on a Delbarton throwing error. The Hermits beat one of the best pitchers in the state, junior Jack Leiter, who has already committed to Vanderbilt.

Leiter, the son of former Major Leaguer Al Leiter, allowed just two hits. Yet he was bested by Cole Vanderslice, a junior righthander who has committed to Villanova. Vanderslice allowed just two hits. He ended his season 6-0 with a 2.82 ERA.

St. Augustine’s offense was led by senior shortstop Josh Hood, who hit .421 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. He will take his talents the University of Pennsylvania.

Third baseman Jack Billings hit .427 with 7 home runs and 30 RBIs. He was also valuable on the mound, going 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA and three saves. Billings is headed to Virginia Tech, where he was recruited as a pitcher.

Senior Kevin Eaise was 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA. He also batted .360 with two home runs and 19 RBI. The list goes on and on.

The Hermits had so many key contributors this season. And they were able to play one of the more demanding schedules.

The win over Delbarton was the second of the season over the North Jersey champs after a 6-1 victory during the second week of April.

St. Augustine also split two games with eventual state Non-Public B champion Gloucester Catholic, losing 5-2 before beating the Rams, 4-3 in a Diamond Classic opening round game.

The Hermits also won two out of three against Bishop Eustace, including a wild 12-11 victory over the Crusaders in a South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal.

One of the underrated wins was a 3-2 victory over a surging Paul VI in a South Jersey Non-Public quarterfinal. The Hermits beat righthander Will Gambino, a recent 35th round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners, who has signed with the University of Kentucky.

Coach Mike Bylone says he like the type of schedule that continues to challenge his team and that certainly happened this year. Yet as St. Augustine showed, the Hermits were certainly up for the challenge.
 
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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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