Cole Vanderslice pitched a two-hitter with six strikeouts for St. Augustine.
Jack Leiter pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts for Delbarton.
The difference in Saturday night’s instant classic of a Non-Public A state title game?
It was a play that “worked just like we drew it up,” according to St. Augustine senior Kevin Eaise, who scored the game’s only run at Veterans Park in Hamilton Township.
Eaise was kidding. The lone run of St. Augustine’s 1-0 victory resulted from a missed bunt attempt, a trapped base runner and an errant throw that marked the game’s only error.
“That’s baseball,” St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. “Sometimes you have to wait for the shoe to drop.”
The victory served as redemption for St. Augustine (26-4), which was making its third straight appearance in the state finals. The Hermits lost this game in 2016 and 2017, falling to Delbarton by a 2-1 score in walk-off fashion last season.
“I know how much this game meant to our seniors,” Bylone said. “They’ve been talking about this game since March.”
Actually, the Hermits walked off the field in Toms River last June thinking about a rematch.
“It feels as awesome as I thought it would,” Eaise said.
The game featured a taut pitcher’s duel between a pair of hard-throwing junior righthanders.
Vanderslice mixed a fastball that sat around 87 mph with a sharp slider and change-up.
“I was able to spot my fastball,” said Vanderslice, who has committed to Villanova.
Leiter, the son of former major-league pitcher Al Leiter, is a Vanderbilt recruit. He mixed a live fastball with a knee-buckling curve to keep the Hermits in check.
Leiter had thrown 12 consecutive hitless innings in the state tournament when Eaise led off the fifth with an infield single.
He advanced to third on a pair of ground outs.
With the count at 1-1, St. Augustine sophomore Kervin Foreman tried to bunt for a hit.
“We’re trying to make something happen,” Bylone said. “Leiter was dealing. We’re trying to make something happen. He’s bunting for a base hit.”
Foreman missed a nasty curve, and Eaise was caught too far off third base. He knew he was in trouble.
“It’s happened to me three or four times this year,” Eaise said. “I always get picked off.”
This time, an overthrow from home to third allowed Eaise to race home for the eventual game-winning run.
“I got lucky,” Eaise said. “But it worked out.”
Vanderslice pitched a 1-2-3 sixth. He allowed a single leading off the seventh but got the next three hitters to pop the cork on the celebration.
A few minute later, Bylone stood in the outfield and looked at all the zeroes still blinking in the warm night.
“I’m looking at the scoreboard,” Bylone said. “What a game.”
Delbarton 000 000 0 – 0 2 1
St. Augustine 000 010 0 – 1 2 0
WP: Cole Vanderslice. LP: Jack Leiter.