Nick Lonetto powers St. Augustine baseball past Clearview

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St. Augustine’s Nick Lonetto slides into second base past Clearview second baseman Erick Weiss on Tuesday.

Nick Lonetto was convinced both of his blasts to deep left field were home runs.

He was right about one of them.

Lonetto settled for a double and home run as St. Augustine rallied for a 4-3 victory over Clearview Tuesday in a non-league baseball clash of Top 5 teams.

A senior catcher, Lonetto was 2-for-2 at the plate, threw out a base runner and flawlessly handled three pitchers for St. Augustine (15-3), the No. 3 team in the Inquirer Top 25.

“This win was huge for us,” Lonetto said. “Being behind and coming back to win against a good team, it means a lot for our confidence.”

Junior righthander Gerry Peacock struck out 11 in five innings of work and sophomore outfielder Kevin Foreman, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, drove in the winning run with a sixth-inning double for St. Augustine.

Junior Brandon Drapeau hit a pair of home runs for No. 5 Clearview (11-3) on a bright, breezy afternoon at Levari Field on the St. Augustine campus.

“We showed we can compete with the parochial schools, which is something we’ve done all year,” Clearview coach Rolando Gautier said. “We played six innings of good ball.

“But we made some mistakes in that sixth inning and you can’t do that against a good team.”

The fast-paced game offered the teams – both of which will be in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic this weekend and project as high seeds in their respective state tournaments – the chance to participate in some playoff-style baseball in early May.

“That’s why we scheduled this game, to have a playoff atmosphere,” St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. “You have to experience it, being in the moment.”

Drapeau’s second home run – a no-doubt drive over the left-field fence with one out in the top of the sixth – gave the Pioneers a 3-2 lead.

St. Augustine rallied as Peacock reached on an error and Lonetto walked. Senior outfielder Kevin Eaise tied the game with an RBI single.

With runners on first and third, Foreman tried to give the Hermits the lead with a suicide-squeeze bunt but pushed it foul.

Three pitches later, Foreman rapped a double down the left-field line to chase home Eaise with the go-ahead run.

“He’s a fundamentally-sound kid and we tried to squeeze with him,” Bylone said of Foreman. “He’s scrappy. That (double) was a big moment for him.”

Lonetto cracked his second home run of the season leading off the second.

“I knew it was out,” Lonetto said.

He thought the same thing when he hit a similar blast leading off the fourth. But this one one-hopped the fence in left-center field.

“I thought that was out, too,” Lonetto said. “I might have started jogging a little bit. If I didn’t, I might have made 3 (hit a triple).”

Lonetto batted fifth in the Hermits’ re-configured lineup and reached base three times.

“His bat is starting to come around,” Bylone said of Lonetto. “I told him a long time ago, ‘Your job is to drive in runs.’”

Like most catchers, Lonetto takes as much pride in his work behind the plate as his hitting.

A four-year starter who plans to attend Cumberland County College next season, Lonetto gunned down a base runner in the third. He made another strong defensive play when he chased down a third strike and fired over the fence in front of the Clearview dugout for the putout.

Lonetto, who calls most of the pitches, praised the work of the Hermit hurlers. Peacock allowed just three hits. Junior righthander Cole Vanderslice earned the win with one inning of relief. And senior righthander James Weston picked up the save with a 1-2-3 seventh, with two strikeouts.

“It’s easy when those guys are throwing that way,” Lonetto said. “With the way these guys have been pitching, it makes my job easy back there.”

Clearview 200 001 0 – 3 4 2

St. Augustine 011 002 x – 4 6 0

WP: Cole Vanderslice. LP: Ethan Ziegler.

2B: C-Shawn Dougherty. SA-Nick Lonetto, Josh Hood, Kevin Foreman.

HR: C-Brandon Drapeau 2. SA-Nick Lonetto.