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Bottom of order puts St. Augustine on top

The Hermits shook off distractions to top Washington Twp., 6-0, and reach the semis.

The bottom of the lineup was the story Saturday as St. Augustine reached the semifinals of the 38th annual Joe Hartmann South Jersey Diamond Classic with a 6-0 victory over Washington Township at Deptford.

Entering the tournament game, the Hermits (18-2) were ranked second in South Jersey by The Inquirer, and the Minutemen (16-4) were No. 3.

Rick Elfreth, Barry Buchowski, and Christian Adorno, the last three in the St. Augustine lineup, accounted for five of the Hermits' six runs and five of their seven hits.

Elfreth, the seventh batter, doubled and scored the first run in a four-run second inning. Buchowski singled and scored twice. Ninth batter Adorno had two hits and scored twice.

Cleanup hitter Carlo Randazzo doubled twice, one of them driving in two runs.

Elfreth said the Hermits had been eagerly awaiting the game but might have been a little high emotionally at the start, with all the things going on during the week.

Elfreth and his fellow seniors graduate Sunday, just hours before they are scheduled to play Eastern in the Diamond Classic semifinals. That game is set for 2:15 p.m. at Deptford. The semifinal winners will play at 5:30 p.m. at Eastern.

"We came in confident," Elfreth said. "There's not a bad spot in our lineup. Today was very emotional because several of us live in [Washington Township]. We've been dreaming of this game with the Township."

"All I know is that when I get up there and there are runners in scoring position, I try to hit the ball the other way," Adorno said. "We just had to bear down a little extra today."

Washington Township plays in the Olympic Conference American Division, and St. Augustine is a member of the Cape-Atlantic American Division.

A subplot to the game - certainly not a minor one, either - was the shutout pitching of St. Augustine starter Matt Rakus and reliever Keith Wittstock.

Rakus allowed just three hits and struck out eight in six innings. He struck out the side after issuing a walk to No. 2 batter Ryan Long to open the fourth inning.

Only one Minutemen runner reached third base, and that came in the seventh inning. A double play from shortstop Adorno to second baseman Anthony Cocuzza to first baseman Cory Dick ended the game.

"We hadn't played a game since last Monday and our seniors have been out of school all week," said St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone, noting that a number of his players had grown up with Washington Township players. "We wanted to tone them down a little."

Minutemen coach Bill Alvaro thought his team had some opportunities but couldn't take advantage of them.

"I think we were overanxious to hit," he said. "We saw some pretty good pitching."

Washington Township 000 000 0 - 0 4 2

St. Augustine 042 000 x - 6 7 0

WP: Matt Rakus. LP: Jonny Morad. 2B: SA–Carlo Randazzo 2, Rick Elfreth.

Diamond Classic

Sunday's Semifinals

Gloucester Catholic vs. Buena at Washington Township, 12:30 p.m.

Eastern vs. St. Augustine at Deptford, 2:15 p.m.

Sunday's Final

Semifinal winners at Eastern, 5:30 p.m.