St. Augustine Prep baseball players Joe Gatto and Christian Adorno are ready.
Gatto and Adorno have played and watched as former teammates at the Prep have committed to and gone on to play at various colleges.
Now it’s their turn.
Gatto, a junior, verbally committed last month to play at Division I University of North Carolina. He can’t officially commit until his senior season. Adorno is a senior and signed a national letter of intent in November to play Division II at Wilmington University (Del.).
The Press All-Star first-teamers each will receive partial athletic scholarships.
Gatto won’t be alone at North Carolina. He will join senior teammate Chris Oakley in Chapel Hill. Oakley verbally committed to play at UNC last year and signed a national letter of intent in November.
“It was a big family decision for me,” said Gatto, a 17-year-old Hammonton resident. “I felt North Carolina was a good fit for me.”
Gatto said his final choice came down to UNC and LSU.
“I loved both schools, but UNC had a better feel for me,” Gatto said. “I love (UNC). It has a different feel to it. It actually felt at home for me the first time I went there.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior was a first-team all-star at first base last season. He batted .381 with six home runs, 31 RBIs and nine steals in 10 attempts but will likely pitch at UNC.
“Joe is a good student,” St. Augustine Prep coach Mike Bylone said. “He’s a good kid with a good family and that’s very important to North Carolina.
“They are looking for quality student athletes and that is what they are getting in Joe Gatto.”
UNC went 46-16 last season and is among the best programs in college baseball. The Tar Heels are preseason No. 2 in the country the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Adorno received interest from Monmouth, Widener, Rutgers-Camden and Rowan among others but chose Wilmington.
“It’s just an awesome feeling,” Adorno said. “Since my freshman year I knew I wanted to play at the next level.
“Just the thought of it is exciting. To travel and play kids from all over is a great feeling. Signing that letter of intent knowing you’re going to play at the next level is just awesome.”
Adorno, 18, is one of the best defensive shortstops in the state and has been told he will compete for playing time immediately at Wilmington.
The Millville resident was a key part of the South Vineland Little League teams that reached the World Series multiple times and will be the Prep’s starting shortstop for the third straight season come spring.
“He’s automatic,” Bylone said. “He’ll make the spectacular plays but that's just extra. He makes all the routine plays. It’s like you don’t even have to watch when the ball is hit at him. You just know he’s going to make the play.”
Adorno batted .396 last season with 27 runs scored and 22 steals.
Wilmington went 33-18 last season and won its second straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship.
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