The St. Augustine Prep baseball team read the headlines prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Accompanied by a No. 1 ranking in the state in the preseason, the Hermits took notice of how many people were crowning them Non-Public A state champions before a single meaningful pitch was thrown.
In baseball, it’s simply not that easy and the Prep knew that. And though the team fell short of its ultimate goal of a second state crown since 2011, St. Augustine did prove why it was surrounded by so much hype.
The Hermits tallied an area-best 22 wins, beat Vineland for the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference crown and advanced to the sectional final before falling to eventual state champion Gloucester Catholic — a team the Hermits beat, 4-2, earlier in the season.
For its impressive campaign, St. Augustine is The Daily Journal Baseball Team of the Year.
“Obviously, I thought we would get to (the Non-Public A state) final and have a chance to win it, but I still think we had a great season,” Prep senior designated hitter Jay Higbee said. “I’m proud of everyone and I think the team will be good for years to come.”
The Hermits will lose eight seniors, including Wilmington University-bound shortstop Christian Adorno, who seconded Higbee’s thoughts on St. Augustine’s year.
“We had a great season,” Adorno said. “We went through some ups and downs and we overcame them, so I’m proud of this team.”
The Hermits stormed out of the gates at 4-0, but slipped to 6-3 on April 20 with a loss to Bishop Eustace. The Prep then lost back-to-back games to Millville and Eastern (in the Diamond Classic) on May 9 and May 11, loosening its grip on the CAL American lead and ending the team’s chances at a Classic title in the first round as its record fell to 13-6.
But St. Augustine rebounded.
The Hermits rode a nine-game winning streak, including a revenge victory over Bishop Eustace in the sectional semifinals, into their Non-Public A South title game against Gloucester Catholic.
It was there that the Prep’s unbeaten run and successful season would end.