PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP — It was a rough start for the St. Augustine Prep baseball team Tuesday.

Bishop Eustace Prep scored five runs in the first inning en route to an 8-5 victory over St. Augustine in a nonconference game.

The Crusaders, ranked sixth in The Press Elite 11, improved to 10-3. St. Augustine, ranked second, fell to 8-2.

“We still have questions that need to be answered,” St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. “The goal is to put it together for the end of the year. That is how we have been successful.”

The Hermits had their best offensive performance in the third inning.

Kevin Foreman singled in Anthony Sofran. Kenny Levari then hit a two-run homer, and Jayson Hoopes hit a solo shot to center field to cut the Hermits’ deficit to 5-4.

“We know that Cole (Vanderslice) is usually going to have his best stuff (on the mound), and today he didn’t, but we’ve got to pick him (up) because it’s a team effort,” said Levari, 16, of Vineland.

“He (Bishop Eustace pitcher Tyler Griswold) got behind the count, and I knew he was going to try and come with a fastball, and I didn’t miss it.”

Vanderslice, who took the loss for the Hermits, pitched two innings, striking out two and walking three — not his typical outing. The senior had last pitched against Vineland on April 11.

Last season, Vanderslice went 6-0 with a 2.67 ERA and struck out 41. He was a first-team Press All-Star.

“Cole would be the first to tell you that he didn’t have his best stuff today, but that’s OK. It’s still early,” Bylone said. “But like I said, it’s only 10 games in, so we’ll get it figured out.”

Levari, a junior, said he sees the ball well at the Crusaders’ field

Last season, St. Augustine beat Bishop Eustace in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals, a game in which Levari homered twice.

Levari also pointed out that the Hermits had lost 4-1 to the Crusaders last season April 21. But St. Augustine then finished 26-4 and captured the state Non-Public A title.

“We lost two games in one day (the other to Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania),” Levari said. “The way I’m looking at it is the start to another state championship run. … Now, we’ve just got to get back on track and do what we need to do to win another state championship.”

With no outs in the top of the first inning, the Crusaders’ Chuck Sanizo hit a three-run double and Mike Guzzardo belted a two-run homer.

Eric Sabato singled in Guzzardo in the fourth inning. Griswold, the winning pitcher, went 4 ⅓ innings. He struck out two, walked just one and gave five hits.

The Crusaders were coming off an eight-inning 3-1 loss to Pope John, of Sparta, on Monday.

“I think it was a character response from (Monday),” Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said of the way his team bounced back. “It was more of a reflection on our guys to responding to that loss with a big character comeback.

“We knew five wasn’t enough. We needed to just stay after it, and our guys did, they kept the intensity up all game.”

Vanderslice and Levari each singled to start the seventh inning but were left stranded.

Hoopes was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth. But the Hermits did not do any more damage with that opportunity.

“We did leave a lot of runners in scoring position throughout the game, and that was the name of the game,” Bylone said. “We battled back, but it’s still early in the season.”

St. Augustine;004 010 0— 5

Bishop Eustace;501 200 x — 8

2B—Sanizo, Koehn BE.

HR— Levari, Hoopes SA; Guzzardo BE.

Records— SA 8-2; BE 10-3.

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