Baseball: St. Augustine Prep slams Holy Spirit in 'payback' game

Holy Spirit catcher Ricky Hopkins looks to tag out St. Augustine Prep’s Jarred Hodges at home during Wednesday’s South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinal game.

BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Barry Buchowski ended the St. Augustine Prep baseball team's loss to Holy Spirit on April 11.

The Hermits catcher walked back to the dugout in disappointment.

Buchowski also ended the rematch Wednesday afternoon.

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This time, he circled the bases in celebration.

Buchowski's grand slam gave St. Augustine a 12-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. The South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinal ended after the blast because of the 10-run mercy rule. Second-seeded St. Augustine (21-6) will host Bishop Eustace in the semifinals 3 p.m. Friday.

"This was really a payback game for us," Buchowski said. "This is a springboard for us. We're on a roll right now."

St. Augustine's lost to Holy Spirit was its first defeat of the year.

In that game, Buchowski came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning. He lined out to center field for the final out.

On Wednesday, Buchowski came up with the bases loaded and the Hermits up 8-0. This time he lined a pitch over the left center-field fence for a grand slam-his sixth homer of the season.

"I was just looking for a pitch to put in the gap so two runs could score," Buchowski said. "But I got a good swing on the ball, and it went over the center-field fence."

St. Augustine played maybe its best game of the season. Pitcher Joey Gatto struck out seven and allowed two hits in five innings. Gatto dominated from the start, striking out the first two batters he faced. Gatto, like Buchowski, redeemed himself with his performance Wednesday. Gatto was the losing pitcher in the first Holy Spirit game.

"They took it to me last game," Gatto said of Spirit. "This time I wanted to come out, give it my all and go right at them."

Gatto mixed in his changeup and curveball with an impressive fastball.

"It was kind of an all-pitch day," he said. "I had everything working for me, and I was blessed to have that happen."

Hermits shortstop Christian Adorno made several sparkling plays in the field to save base hits.

The Hermits got offensive production from its entire batting order and finished with 13 hits. St. Augustine took control against the seventh-seeded Spartans with six runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-0 lead.

Adorno, Buchowski, Mike Elfreth and Dylan Tolbert each had two hits. Tolbert, the No. 8 hitter, hit a triple and a double and scored twice.

"I told (the St. Augustine players) before the game, 'Let's get on them,' " St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. "We've been taking a lot of (batting practice) and everyone contributed."

St. Augustine, ranked No. 3 in The Press Elite 11, has won eight in a row. The Hermits will try to avenge another defeat when they play Eustace, ranked No. 2. St. Augustine lost to Eustace 4-0 on April 20. Third-seeded Eustace beat 11th-seeded Camden Catholic 5-1 in the quarterfinals.

The Hermits left the field Wednesday with plenty of confidence.

"I like where we're at right now," Bylone said. "We're doing a lot of things right."

Contact Michael McGarry:


Holy Spirit 000 00-0 2 3

St. Augustine 106 05-12 13 0

2B-Tolbert SAP. 3B-Tolbert SAP. HR-Buchowski SAP.

WP-Gatto 7K. LP-DiIanna 1K.

Records-Prep 21-6, Spirit 13-9.

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