South Jersey Baseball Preview: Non-Public A

South Jersey Baseball Preview: Non-Public A
Two-time defending sectional champ St. Augustine will make another run at the title.
 
The South Jersey Non-Public A state tournament begins a little later than the public school and this should be one of the most competitive Groups in the state.
 
While the tournament has begun, many of the contenders don’t begin action until May 24.
 
Here is a look at this deep field.
 
Defending Champion: St. Augustine. The Hermits not only won South Jersey but ended up winning last year’s state championship. They beat Notre Dame, 6-1 to win last year’s South Jersey final and then defeated Delbarton, 1-0 to win the state title.
Favorite: St. Augustine, which has won the last two South Jersey titles, is again the favorite. The Hermits have the deepest pitching staff. Senior Jayson Hoopes is 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA and sophomore Jackson Vanesko is 4-1, 2.27.
Other Main Contenders: No. 2 CBA, No. 3 Bishop Eustace. CBA has one of the top pitchers in the state, junior Pat Reilly, who began the week 8-0 with a 0.65 ERA. He had 75 strikeouts and 13 walks in 43 1/3 innings. Eustace has one of the top two-way players in the state, senior infielder-pitcher Matt Orlando. On the mound, the righthander was 6-0 with an 0.72 ERA. Orlando, who is headed to the University of Maryland, began the week hitting .354. No. 4 Red Bank Catholic, and No. 5 Notre Dame, who meet on Friday after earning first-round byes, can’t be discounted.
Dark Horse: No. 7 Paul VI. The Eagles were one of the teams that had to play a first-round game on Monday. Paul VI defeated Camden Catholic, 5-0 to advance Friday’s quarterfinal at CBA. Junior ace Chris Rowell got the win over Camden Catholic, striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings. The win improved Paul VI to 15-7 and the Eagles have won nine of their last 10. A 9-7 loss to Bishop Eustace was the only loss in that period. This is a relatively young Paul VI team which was considered a year away at the beginning of the season, but is extremely dangerous.
Outlook: St. Augustine has the deepest pitching, but CBA has the best pitcher. Bishop Eustace probably has the best offense. Paul VI may be the hottest team of all. Non-Public A is usually one of the toughest of the South Jersey sectional tournaments and this year is no exception. The one difference is that there isn’t an overwhelming favorite. That said, it will be difficult to unseat St. Augustine. Having won the South Jersey title the last two years, the Hermits know what it takes and how to win in late May and early June.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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