St. Augustine Baseball Fulfills Expectations Once Again

St. Augustine Baseball Fulfills Expectations Once Again
Before the high school baseball season, St. Augustine carried the highest of expectations. Then again, what else is new?
 
The Hermits entered the year as the defending Non-Public A state champions and the three-time South Jersey champion.
 
Despite some key pitching injuries, the Hermits proved to be the best in South Jersey, and were very close once again to beating the state’s top team.
 
St. Augustine ended 24-5, and finished No. 5 in the state in NJ.com’s final rankings, the highest team from South Jersey.
 
Few teams could have enjoyed such a strong season despite some devastating pitching injuries.
 
Senior Gerry Peacock, who has earned a scholarship to Notre Dame, missed the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
 
Classmate Cole Vanderslice, who is a Villanova recruit, only pitched in four games due to injury, with the last mound appearance on April 28. Vanderslice remained a key offensive performer for the Hermits.
 
The person who picked up the pitching slack was senior righthander Jayson Hoopes, who was a 36-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs and is a Virginia recruit.
 
Hoopes was 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA. Sophomore Jackson Vanesko was 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA.
 
The offensive leaders were two juniors, outfielder Kevin Foreman and infielder Kenny Levari. Foreman hit .438 and scored a team-high 32 runs. He also stole 17 bases and hit a team-high eight doubles.
 
Levari batted .400 with 19 runs scored and 18 RBI.
 
The Hermits earned a berth in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic and after being Trenton Catholic in the first round, they were ousted by eventual champion Shawnee, 4-3 in eight innings.
 
The Hermits then opened with a difficult opponent in the SJ Non-Public A tournament, defeating St. John Vianney, 5-4.
 
Hoopes earned the win, allowing three runs in six innings and striking out 13.
 
Then came a 9-5 win over Notre Dame as Vanderslice was 3 for 3 with an RBI and run scored.
 
Coach Mike Bylone’s St. Augustine squad then won its fourth straight South Jersey Non-Public A title with a 5-3 win over St. Joseph Metuchen.
 
Hoopes allowed three runs in six innings while striking out five to earn the victory.
 
The season ended with a 4-3 loss in eight innings to Delbarton in the state final. That was the same Delbarton team that the Hermits beat 1-0 in last year’s state championship.
 
The Hermits scored three runs (one earned) off senior righthander Jack Leiter, among he top pitchers in the state and nationwide. Leiter pitched 6 1/3 innings.
 
He was relieved by Shawn Rapp, a North Carolina recruit, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, with three strikeouts.
 
Hoopes earned a no-decision, allowing just three runs (two earned) in six innings, while striking out seven.

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It took the best team in the state extra innings to beat the best team in South Jersey. Despite the loss of key players such as Hoopes, the Hermits figure to again be among South Jersey’s top team next season and don’t be surprised if the Hermits start out in the preseason where they ended the 2019 season.

© SouthJersey.com 2019. All rights reserved. This article or parts thereof may not be reprinted or reproduced by any other party without the express written consent of SouthJersey.com. For more information, please call 856-797-9910.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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