St. Augustine Makes No. 1 pitch

St. Augustine Makes No. 1 pitch The race for No. 1 in South Jersey got a lot more interesting with St. Augustine winning the 44th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic. The Hermits finished matters with an 8-5 win over Gloucester Catholic in the championship at Eastern High.

Not only was it the Hermits second Diamond Classic title (both since 2014) but it was their second win over Gloucester Catholic, the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey entering the tournament.

St. Augustine improved to 20-5 with the win, which was paced by Greg Elfreth’s three-run home run. The Hermits got solid pitching throughout the tournament. Teams had to play quarterfinal games on Saturday and then semifinal and final games on Sunday. The Hermits beat Haddonfield, 3-2 in the first round, Washington Township, 7-4, Shawnee, 2-0 behind the shutout pitching of Mike Miles and then Gloucester Catholic.

Meanwhile Gloucester Catholic defeated Audubon 5-3, Holy Spirit, 5-2 and Eastern, 7-4 enroute to the championship game. Both teams earned victories over Top-5 squads in South Jersey. Eastern and Shawnee were ranked among the top five entering the weekend by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

So does St. Augustine automatically move up to No. 1?

It looks that way.

Here is the Hermits resume. They have now beaten Gloucester Catholic twice, after an earlier 8-6 victory over the Rams. St. Augustine has three losses to teams from the seven-county South Jersey area – Millville, Egg Harbor Township and Holy Spirit. The other losses were to Old Bridge and to Pennsylvania’s Malvern Prep.

Gloucester Catholic’s only two losses to South Jersey teams came against St. Augustine. The Rams also lost 3-0 to Bergen Catholic.

What makes things difficult from Gloucester Catholic’s perspective is that the Rams won’t get another chance at St. Augustine in the state tournament. Gloucester Catholic competes in South Jersey Non-Public B while St. Augusine is in Non-Public A.

This is not to say that St. Augustine has clinched the top spot. If the Hermits lose their first game of the state tournament, things could get interesting.

St. Augustine is the No. 2 seed in the South Non-Public A field and has received a first round bye. The Hermits won’t playin the second round until May 30, so they will be well rested.

What if Gloucester Catholic wins a state title in Non-Public B and St. Augustine loses its first game, then what happens? These are just some of the scenarios.

And there are several public schools that could possibly lay claim to the top spot, especially whichever team comes out from the loaded South Jersey Group 4 field.

The public schools are at a disadvantage in the Diamond because they were scheduled to begin their state tournament the day after the Diamond championship. Non-public schools, especially those who receive byes in the first round, have more than a week off (unless there are makeup games to play).

Like St. Augustine, Gloucester Catholic received a first round bye and isn’t scheduled to play its second round game until May 30. So right now the Hermits remain in the driver’s seat with plenty of baseball left to be played.

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