Clearview High School's head baseball coach had a difficult decision to make this week. In order to stay atop the Tri-County Conference Royal Division the Pioneers need to win both of their games this coming week.
But Clearview also drew St. Augustine in the first round of the Diamond Classic. Coach Rocco Cornacchia was now faced with how to juggle his young pitchers, and where their priorities lied.
His plan was simple, play to always win, but use the rotation to seal up the conference and get into the playoffs.
"We battled them hard, but we can't make the errors we made in the second inning and walk batters against this team and expect to come out on top" said Clearview assistant coach Mike Lerch.
In the second inning, St. Augustine was able to plate three runs in the 5-2 win over Clearview.
For St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone Saturday's first-round game was one leg of his milk stool approach. "Every year we have three goals, win the Diamond Classic, win the conference, win the state championship. We look to come out of the season with something referring to the three goals" said Bylone.
"Every time Joey (Gatto) takes the mound we have a chance to win," Bylone said about his star pitcher.
Today's win was a first step in winning the Diamond Classic hardware. St. Augustine only has made it to the Diamond final once, losing to fellow Cape-Atlantic League rival Buena, 9-8, in 2011.
Bylone went to his ace, senior Joey Gatto, to deliver the first-round win. Gatto, who has committed to North Carolina and is being scouted by several major league teams, pitched a complete game to get the win.
"I felt good out there today, it's a great team win for us" said Gatto.
Gatto hit 93 mph on the radar gun and rung up seven strikeouts in the effort. He also went 2-for-4 to help himself and power his team to victory.
Dylan Tolbert went 3-for-3 and reached base four times to lead the offense and help the Hermits advance to the second round of the tournament.
St. Augustine is now 15-4 overall and will face Colonial Conference and Group 1 power, Audubon, Saturday, May 17, in the second round, at 10:30 a.m. at Deptford High School.
According to Bylone "it will be a week of juggling pitchers.: