Andrew Vail prefers pitching out of the windup.
"It's so much easier when you can wind up and there's nobody on base," Vail said.
Vail threw every pitch of the final four innings out of the windup Sunday in leading Gloucester Catholic to a 5-2 victory over St. Augustine in the Coaches vs. Cancer showcase.
A senior lefthander and Maryland commit, Vail retired the final 12 batters in order and finished with 10 strikeouts as the Rams capped a breakthrough weekend with an imposing victory in the clash of non-public powers before a large crowd at Mainland.
"He just seemed to get stronger every inning," Gloucester Catholic shortstop Evan Giordano said of Vail, who faced the minimum of 15 batters in the final five innings of the complete-game performance.
Giordano, a senior, rapped a double and scored two runs and junior outfielder Lillo Paxia, a Florida State recruit, delivered a two-run single for Gloucester Catholic (9-4), the No. 6 team in the Inquirer Top 25.
Junior Cole Vanderslice slapped an RBI single and pitched the final four innings for No. 3 St. Augustine (11-3).
"We've got to start putting things together," St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. "We're not consistent. We're not there."
St. Augustine took a 2-1 lead on Vanderslice's hit in the bottom of the second and the Hermits had the bases loaded with a chance to pad their advantage with two outs.
But Vail escaped trouble with a 2-2 change-up for a strikeout to end the inning.
"You had him on the ropes and you have to take advantage," Bylone said. "But he settled down and he shut us down. You have to tip your hat to him."
Vail mixed a lively fastball with a sharp curveball and change-up. He struck out the side in the fifth and the seventh.
"I got command of my off-speed and that made my fastball harder to hit," Vail said. "Usually I struggle early on. Once I get through the hitters, I'm more aware of what I can throw and more comfortable."
Luke Lesch and Tyler Cannon also drove in runs for Gloucester Catholic, which rapped 11 hits off two of the Hermits' top pitchers.
The Rams got strong production from the bottom of the lineup as No. 7 hitter Jake McNellis was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run, No. 8 hitter Ryan Nutley had an RBI single, and No. 9 hitter Andrew Colligan was 1-for-2, with his courtesy runner crossing the plate on Paxia's hit in the sixth.
"That's huge for us," Gloucester Catholic coach Adam Tussey said. "[Saturday], the bottom of the lineup was 6-for-8."
On Saturday, Gloucester Catholic beat Steinert, 17-7, as Giordano drove in six runs with a double and homer and Paxia also cranked a homer.
The weekend sweep of two of the state's perennial powers pushed the Rams back into prominence after some early-season struggles that included losses to Tri-County Conference foes Schalick, Clearview, and Glassboro.
"We just said this weekend, we're going to win Saturday, win Sunday and just keep winning," Vail said. "We want to win every game, but this one was a little bigger because we knew it was St. Augustine."
Vail labored a bit with his command early in the season, walking five in three innings against West Deptford, four in three innings against Woodstown and six in one inning against Clearview.
But the lefty's command was impeccable in the final five innings against St. Augustine, which had averaged 8.5 runs in its first 13 games. On a brisk day, Vail worked fast, changed speeds, and threw strikes.
"He was throwing strike one and that opens up the whole playbook," Tussey said. "We needed this game 100 percent and he went out there and got it for us."
Gloucester Catholic 101 102 0 – 5 11 0
St. Augustine 020 000 0 – 2 5 0
WP: Andrew Vail. LP: Kevin Eaise.