BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Jay Hoopes kept it simple and threw as hard as he could Tuesday afternoon.

Kenny Levari did the same, albeit with a bit more drama.

The two St. Augustine Prep pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter as the third-seeded Hermits beat 14th-seeded Trenton Catholic 2-0 in the first round of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.

Hoopes struck out eight — all swinging — in six innings. He also knocked in the Hermits’ runs with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth.

“Today it was my fastball,” Hoopes said. “I only threw two or three sliders. It was the fastball. They just couldn’t catch up to it.”

Levari followed Hoopes’ formula and also threw mostly fastballs.

But he struggled a bit with his control. Trenton Catholic loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a dropped fly ball in the seventh and final inning. But Levari struck out the next two hitters swinging to end the game.

“They didn’t touch (Jay’s) fastball,” Levari said. “I have a pretty good fastball. I was just attacking with the fastball.”

The 16-team Classic features nearly all of South Jersey’s top teams. St. Augustine won the tournament in 2014 and 2017 and lost in last year’s final. The Classic began in 1974 and is named after Hartmann, one of the tournament’s founders and a long-time fixture on the South Jersey baseball scene.

Trenton Catholic might have been the No. 14 seed, but they played with energy. The Iron Mikes dugout was loud throughout the contest.

“It’s always fun playing these high intense games,” Levari said.

With his effort, Hoopes continued to emerge as one of South Jersey’s top pitchers. The Northfield resident has committed to the University of Virginia. His fastball reached 94 mph on the radar gun of a scout behind the backstop.

“Early on you could see they were swinging through everything,” Hermits coach Mike Bylone said. “They’re a free-swinging team.”

Hoopes walked two batters. Trenton Catholic (10-6) rarely hit a ball hard and did not come close to a hit. Hoopes struck out the side in his sixth and final inning.

“It feels good my work is paying off,” Hoopes said.

Trenton Catholic pitcher Jesse Guerrero nearly matched Hoopes. Guerrero scattered four hits through the first five innings.

But with the game scoreless, Hoopes stepped to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs in the sixth.

“I knew if I didn’t (come through) there, this game would be different,” Hoopes said. “I had to step up.”

He grounded a single through the hole between third and shortstop to score two runs.

“Jay has cooled off with the bat,” Bylone said, “but he knew what was at stake there. That’s a senior stepping up in the moment with two outs.”

All that was left was for Levari to escape some anxious moments in the top of the seventh.

“I had to take a deep breath,” Levari said. “I had a headache. I wasn’t feeling great, but I knew I had to bear down for my team. I couldn’t let my team down or Jay down.”

The Hermits (17-2) will meet sixth-seeded Shawnee (14-3) in the quarterfinals 1 p.m. Saturday at Washington Township.

St. Augustine is the defending state Non-Pubic A champion. The Hermits hope to build momentum in the Diamond Classic for the state tournament, which starts later this month.

“This is a playoff atmosphere,” Bylone said Tuesday. “I don’t care what seed or where you are in the bracket, every one of these games is a playoff-atmosphere game. The reason why we’ve been successful later on is we’ve advanced in this tournament. This is the greatest preparation for the state tournament.”

Contact: 609-272-7209 MMcGarry@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

Trenton Catholic 000 000 0 – 0 0 1

St. Augustine 000 002 x- 2 6 0

WP. Hoopes. LP. Guerrero

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​Contact: 609-272-7209


Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

Staff Writer

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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