Gloucester Catholic wins second straight state baseball title

Gloucester Catholic players celebrate after they defeated DePaul Catholic.

Anthony Solometo knows the recent history of Gloucester Catholic baseball.

He knows Mike Shawaryn. He knows John Murphy.

And he knows that after Saturday, his name will be mentioned with those guys in one of the more remarkable aspects of the state’s most fabled program.

Pitching five shutout innings, Solometo earned the victory as Gloucester Catholic beat DePaul Catholic, 10-3, in the Non-Public B state championship game at Veterans Park in Hamilton Township.

Solometo, a left-hander who commanded four pitches, allowed four hits with four walks. He struck out 11, including the side in a tone-setting first inning.

A 15-year-old from Gloucester Township, Solometo also became the third Gloucester Catholic freshman to earn the pitching victory in the state final since 2010. Shawaryn and Murphy were the other two.

“Those guys are legends,” Solometo said. “Just to be mentioned with them, it means everything.”

Camera icon WILLIM THOMAS CAIN
Gloucester Catholic pitcher Anthony Sorometo.

Senior shortstop Evan Giordano capped a superb season by going 2-for-3 with an RBI triple, and junior first baseman Luke Lesch cracked a home run for Gloucester Catholic (20-8), which won its second state title in a row and sixth since 2010.

The Rams also won their 19th state title, more than twice as many as any program in New Jersey.

“It just goes back to how hard we work,” said Lesch, whose two-run blast deep over the right-field fence in the first inning jacked Gloucester Catholic’s lead to 4-0. “We put in the work on the field and off.”

The Rams seized command in the top of the first inning before a large crowd that surrounded the manicured complex, which was hosting the state championship games for the first time.

Giordano led off with a walk. Jason Bobiak dropped a perfect bunt that was misplayed, putting runners on first and second.

Lillo Paxia followed with another textbook bunt, and DePaul misplayed that one with a wild throw that allowed Giordano and Bobiak to score.

“That’s Gloucester Catholic baseball,” Gloucester Catholic coach Adam Tussey said. “Get guys on base, move them along, put pressure on the defense and get out in front of the game.”

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Gloucester Catholic’s Evan Giordano is late with the tag on DePaul Catholic’s Johnny Amodeo.

After a fly out, Tyler Cannon singled, and Lesch drove a 1-1 fastball into the trees behind right field.

“Got an inside fastball that I could drive,” Lesch said. “It was one of the best feelings of my life.”

The Rams added a run in the second as Ryan Nutley walked and scored on a delayed steal of home on a pick-off move. They made it 7-0 in the third as Nick Nocella scored on a wild pitch, and Andrew Colligan delivered an RBI single.

That was more than enough for Solometo, who had thrown just 20 innings before taking the mound at Bob DeMeo Field.

“I had 100 percent confidence in him,” Tussey said. “His bullpens, his work in intra-squad games, the way he pitched against St. Rose in the playoffs. I knew he would do a good job, and he didn’t disappoint.”

Solometo said he threw a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider and change-up.

“They all were working,” Solometo said.

The 9th grader said he had “no nerves at all” since his team staked him to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.

“I knew I had my team behind me,” Solometo said. “When Evan walked and scored, and Luke hit that home run, I knew it was going to be a good day.”

Giordano, who rapped his 30th extra-base hit of the season with an RBI triple to right-center for an 8-0 lead in the fourth, said Solometo had the full confidence of his teammates.

“He pitches like an upperclassman,” Giordano said. “He showed what kind of guts he has.”

Camera icon WILLIM THOMAS CAIN
Gloucester Catholic’s Ryan Nutle, left, is congratulated by Nick Nocella after scoring against DePaul Catholic in the second inning.

As the Rams milled outside the dugout and posed for pictures after another state championship, Tussey said Solometo is a worthy successor to the legacy established by pitchers such as Shawaryn and Murphy as well as 2016 Gloucester Catholic star Tyler Mondile.

“He has their work ethic,” Tussey said. “He works the way Shawaryn worked, the way Murphy worked, does the things that Tyler Mondile brought to the table.

“He has a chance to be really, really special by the time he’s a senior.”

That’s three seasons away for Solometo.

For every other team in a state, he would be the rare freshman with a state title victory under his belt.

At Gloucester Catholic, he’s another brick in the wall.

Gloucester Catholic 412 100 2 – 10 10 3

DePaul                    000  003 0 – 3 5 5

WP: Anthony Solometo. LP: Steve Orlando.

2B: GC-Ryan Nutley; D-Scott West. 3B: GC-Evan Giordano. HR: GC-Luke Lesch.