St. Augustine pitcher Elliott Stepanof (shown in a game earlier this season) tossed a two-hitter in defeating Cathedral Catholic in Thursday.
No one at Thursday’s Eastern League finale at Hickman Field could recall the last time St. Augustine swept archrival Cathedral Catholic in a season baseball series.
Even athletic director and former Saints head baseball coach Mike Stephenson wasn’t sure that it has ever been done, and he’s been around the program for decades.
“In years gone by we’ve played each other as many as five times in a single season, but I don’t remember ever sweeping the series,” said Stephenson, currently the Saints’ pitching coach.
The teams met three times this year and St. Augustine (23-7, 9-3) won all three, holding the Dons (19-10, 7-5) to two runs over 21 innings. That includes a two-hitter by senior Elliott Stepanof, who needed only 54 pitches to post Thursday’s 3-0 victory.
This win gives St. Augustine the Eastern League championship and most assuredly a top-four seed in the San Diego Section Division I playoffs.
“I think we match up with anybody in the county,” said Saints coach Craig da Luz. “We have the pitching to go a long way.”
Cathedral, which has won a section title four of the past five years, also is ticketed for the Division I playoffs. The Dons began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, however, five players were kicked off the squad for breaking school rules early in the season and the team faltered.
Stepanof, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-hander, retired the first 16 batters he faced. Cathedral finally got a hit when Toru Sugiura blooped a double to short center field with one out in the sixth.
One out later, Sean Bouchard looped a single to right. Outfielder Taylor Ahearn fielded the ball and nailed Sugiura at the plate on a smothering tag by Saints catcher Tyrus Greene.
“I jammed Sugiura and Bouchard hit one off the end of the bat,” said Stepanof, who is 17-3 over the past two seasons.
Ahearn was 3-for-3 with a home run to pace the Saints’ offense.