Joe Santone and John Theckston, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, drove in a combined five runs as Gloucester Catholic beat St. Augustine Prep 12-4 Tuesday in the Non-Public South A title game at Rowan.
GC (27-4), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 10, advanced to face Don Bosco Prep in the NP A state title game Saturday at Toms River.
Don Bosco beat GC 5-3 on a walk-off, three-run HR in 10 innings on May 6.
Before a crowd of around 1,000 at Rowan, GC rapped 10 hits and worked five walks. The Rams scored in every inning after the first.
GC scored eight runs, six earned, off SAP ace Kevin Baxter, who walked five and hit a batter.
Santone's three-run double gave the Rams a 3-0 lead in the second.
SAP (19-10) rallied for a 4-3 lead as Kyle Lindsay, Barry Buchowski and Christian Carmolingo delivered two-out RBIs in the top of the third.
But GC kept the pressure on with its deep lineup. The Rams tied the score in the third in John Brue's RBI single, then scored four in the fourth as Pat Kane delivered an RBI single, two runners scored on wild pitches and another came home on an error.
"They bunt, they steal, the keep the pressure on you," SAP coach Mike Bylone said of GC.
Theckston rapped a two-run single in the fifth on the last pitch of a nine-pitch at bat.
Winning pitcher Mike Mercer (3-0), a sophomore, worked 4 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits but didn't walk a batter.
Dan Higgins pitched the final 2 1/3 innings for GC.
Robbie Alessandrine, the No. 7 hitter, scored three runs and drove in another as the Rams got big production from the 7-8-9 hitters in their lineup.
"We're all tough outs," Santone said.
-- Phil Anastasia