St. Augustine, Bishop Eustace lead Inquirer's preseason baseball Top 25

St. Augustine Prep baseball coach Mike Bylone and his players celebrate after winning the 44th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic title last season.

SOUTH JERSEY BASEBALL PRESEASON TOP 25

Camera icon Phil Anastasia/Staff photographer
St. Augustine baseball player Kevin Eaise is a Penn recruit.
  1. St. Augustine (24-7 last season): The Hermits have eight Division 1 recruits, led by Penn-bound seniors Kevin Eaise (.427 with 36 RBIs, plus 6-2 on the mound with 2.35 ERA) and Josh Hood (.365, 10 doubles). The pitching staff is deep and talented and features seniors Jack Billings, a Virginia Tech recruit, and Jack Halbrunner, a Bryant recruit, as well as juniors Cole Vanderslice (Villanova) and Gerry Peacock (Dartmouth). Senior Nick Lonetto is a seasoned catcher.
  2. Bishop Eustace (23-7): The Crusaders and Hermits met last year in the Non-Public South A final and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a rematch this season. Bishop Eustace has a heavy-hitting squad led by senior Sky Duff (.410, 44 runs), a Pitt recruit, and junior Matt Orlando (.519, plus 6-1 on the mound), a Maryland recruit. The loaded lineup includes Penn State recruit Johnny Piacentino (37 runs), Christian Capaldi (.409) and Mike Guzzardo (47 RBIs) along with sophomore Chase Conklin, who batted .514 as a ninth grader.
  3. Gloucester Catholic (28-3): The defending Non-Public B state champions are led by senior shortstop Evan Giordano, a Stony Brook commit, and junior outfielder Lillo Paxia, a Florida State recruit who hit 13 doubles last season. Senior outfielder Jason Bobiak is a three-year starter, and senior left-hander Andrew Vail, a Maryland recruit, leads a deep pitching staff that includes senior right-handers Ian Murphy, a St. John’s recruit, and Drew Guldin, a UMass-Lowell recruit.
  4. Egg Harbor Twp. (20-5): The Eagles have one of the state’s top juniors in outfielder/pitcher Jordan Sweeney, a Rutgers recruit who batted .467 with nine homers. This is a team with a deep stable of arms that includes junior Cory Kessler, who was 4-0 last season. Junior outfielder Ron Petraccci, an Old Dominion recruit, is a player to watch
  5. Washington Twp. (17-9): The Minutemen will be led by senior pitcher/outfielder Lorenzo Morello (.306) as well as senior pitcher Eric Cartafalsa (4.1, 2.35 ERA) and junior slugger Luke Kaschak, who hit six homers last season. Sophomores Greg Rossi (.378), Christian Kane (.307) and Nick Hammer (5-2, 2.24 ERA) are expected to make a major impact
  6. Shawnee (19-6): The Renegades have perhaps South Jersey’s top catcher in senior Colin Wetterau, a St. John’s recruit. The team will be without senior right-hander Sean Heine, a Maryland recruit who is out with a knee injury. Senior right-handers Brian Hendry, a St. John’s recruit, and Dan Flake led a deep pitching staff that also includes junior Jackson Balzan and should get a major boost when senior Dylan Deveney rounds into shape after a long basketball season. The infield features returning starters in shortstop Connor Coolahan and third baseman Hunter Corragio
  7. Cherokee (13-12): The Chiefs started 0-7 last season and rallied for a winning record. They will be led by a deep pitching staff that includes Charleston Southern recruit Matt Stil and Villanova recruit Jim Franchetti. Jack Walters leads the lineup.
  8. Seneca (15-9): The Golden Eagles have a top lineup led by senior outfielder Nick Decker, a Maryland and possible early-round draft pick, and senior shortstop Kevin Gsell, who set a team record last season with a .594 batting average. Senior Nick Lopez is a top catcher and will be charged with helping to develop an inexperienced pitching staff
  9. Lenape (20-7): The Indians, who reached the South Jersey Group 4 title game last season, will be led by senior infielder Jake Topolski, a Duke recruit who batted .422 with 24 RBIs. Other key players include seniors such as A.J. Pena (.326), a University of the Sciences recruit; Pat Rush, a Hartford recruit, and Logan Beaver, a Philadelphia University recruit. Junior catcher Cade Hunter, a Virginia Tech commit, is a player to watch.
  10. Cherry Hill West (16-8): The Lions have a trio of three-year starters at the top of the lineup in LaSalle recruit Nick DiVietro along with Jack Owens and Chace Sgouros. Junior Scott Shaw, a Rider recruit, is another hitter to watch. The pitching staff features four juniors who saw significant time as sophomores led by lefties Brian Robertson, a Dayton recruit, and Dylan Hanni.
  11. Haddonfield (16-7): The Bulldawgs have a top catcher in senior John Cristino, a Rhode Island recruit, and a pair of top pitchers in seniors Ryan Sehdev and Jacob Small, a Maine recruit. Junior outfielder Steve DiTomaso, a George Washington recruit, is a hitter to watch and the deep pitching staff includes seniors Connor MacNeil and Sam Heine and juniors Chris Brown and Dylan Heine.
  12. Eastern (22-7): The Vikings have one of the state’s top players in senior outfielder Jack Herman, a Maryland recruit and four-year starter. Senior Jesse Barbera leads the pitching staff while junior shortstop Jack Winsett (.370, 16 runs) is a player to watch.
  13. Pennsville (18-9): The Eagles are led by one of the state’s top hitters in senior Max Dineen, a Virginia Tech recruit who batted .580 with26 extra-base hits. Senior lefty Daulton Montagna was 8-1 with an 0.82 ERA. Senior catcher Ryan Gray is another accomplished veteran.
  14. Mainland (14-9): The Mustangs have a top 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in senior right-hander Nick Atohi and junior lefty Devin Sharkey, a Stony Brook recruit. Senior second baseman Nick Nutile leads the offense.
  15. Gateway (14-11): The Gators are led senior twins Ryan and Kevin Teschko, a pair of top hitters and pitchers and Old Dominion recruits. This is a senior-heavy team with a strong catcher in Paul Stainker, an outfielder to watch in Matt Girouard and a likely impact transfer from Woodbury in senior pitcher/infielder Joe Norton.
  16. Hammonton (14-10): The Blue Devils have a deep and experienced pitching staff led by seniors Sean Cocuzza and GianCarlo Palmieri. The lineup features heavy-hitting junior outfielder Steve Restuccio, a Maryland recruit, and senior outfielder Zach Guerrier, who batted .403 with 27 RBIs.
  17. Northern Burlington (12-10): The Greyhounds have been a heavy hitting team but they could rely more this season on a deep pitching staff led by seniors Mike Bell, Sam Irvin, Devin Lippincott and Ryan Wainwright. Senior Will Mesa is a top catcher.
  18. Highland (19-7): The Tartans have a leader in senior catcher Jared Colbert and a player to watch in junior outfielder Dylan Maria, a La Salle recruit. Juniors Brian Cooey and Jack McDonnell anchor the pitching staff.
  19. Delran (21-6): The Bears have a top two-way player in senior Luke Smith, a St. Joseph recruit who batted .408 with 38 RBIs and was 3-0 on the mound with a 1.87 ERA. Sophomore outfielder R.J. Moten, who batted .375 with 36 stolen bases, is a young player to watch.
  20. Audubon (25-5): The Green Wave will be a young team, especially on the mound, as sophomores Sean Colbert and Dustin Bellis are likely to lead the rotation. Junior shortstop Ryan Coyle is a top hitter, and senior outfielders Nik Chiaradia and Matt Connelly are players to watch.
  21. Rancocas Valley (18-5): The Red Devils will be led by senior shortstop Tim Irons and a pair of top juniors in Bryce Mangene and Eli Dickerson.
  22. Cherry Hill East (10-15): The Cougars will be led by senior shortstop Justin Cain, a three-year starter, as well as junior pitcher Mark Basehore, who didn’t allow an earned run in 15 innings as a sophomore. Senior pitchers Dave Levin and Evan Frisby along with junior pitcher Steve Lombardi and junior infielder Sean McKenna are players to watch.
  23. Paul VI (9-15): The Eagles have a true ace in senior right-hander Will Gambino, a Kentucky recruit. Other players to watch include seniors Eric DiDomenico and Joe Matricardi.
  24. Holy Cross (17-9): The Lancers should have some pop in the lineup with senior shortstop Zac Taylor, who had 32 RBIs and hit 11 doubles last season, leading the way. Other key seniors are centerfielder Tim Petrucelli, third baseman Brendon Karamanoogiann and pitcher/first baseman Jeff Undercuffler.
  25. Holy Spirit (21-6): The Spartans have a top catcher in Matt Rivera, a La Salle recruit who batted .465 with 35 RBIs. Other key players in senior pitcher Pat Rapp and senior infielder Dan Marczyk, who batted .377.

 

Under consideration: Clearview (15-9), Haddon Twp. (11-14), Glassboro (12-10), Kingsway (12-11), Maple Shade (12-11), Ocean City (13-10), Riverside (14-12), Vineland (17-7), West Deptford (15-12), Williamstown (10-12).