Entering the season, Red Bank Catholic baseball coach Buddy Hausmann knew he had talent but also realized he had a lot of young players.

So at what point did he feel his team had a shot to win its third straight Shore Conference Tournament?

“I don’t know if I even really knew it until we got that final out, realistically,” Hausmann said with a laugh.

That final out came around 9 p.m. on May 29 at ShoreTown Ballpark in Lakewood, when reliever Steve Svenson got a strikeout to seal the 4th-seeded Caseys’ 5-2 victory over 7th-seeded Jackson Memorial in the SCT title game.

In winning the title, RBC had to beat two pitchers committed to Division I colleges in Rumson-Fair Haven’s Charlie Jones (Wake Forest University, N.C.) and Jackson’s Zach Crotchfelt (Auburn University, Ala.), who is a potential high MLB draft pick. By doing so, it became just the third school to win three straight SCT championships, along with Toms River North and Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft.

“It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t expected,” Hausmann said. “A lot of people, especially around here, think that it’s a harder tournament to win because of bragging rights; you’re dealing with big schools [and] there’s the local competition of it. There are some people that win the state championship but never won a Shore Conference. That says a lot about the tournament. It’s tough. There are 48 teams, and the state tournament is [just] 16 teams.”

And despite their seedings, it appears the two best teams in the field reached the finals as both are ranked in the Top 20 in NJ.com’s rankings.

RBC scored twice on Crotchfelt in the bottom of the second. Frank Scrivanic, who went 8-for-10 in the tournament, and Jack Meyers singled to put runners on the corners. Scrivanic scored on a wild pitch and freshman Dylan Passo delivered an RBI single.

At that point of the game, the Caseys realized they were able to get some good swings on Crotchfelt, and he was not going to just blow them away all game.

“We worked Saturday and Sunday on staying short with our approach and let him provide the power but have good swings,” Hausmann said. “We had a pretty good mentality going; I think we really showed it from the very first inning game that we were dialed in.”

The biggest example was senior Matt Scrivanic. After Jackson (19-8) tied the game with two runs in the fifth, RBC came right back in the bottom of the inning. Sean Griggs drew a leadoff walk and one later, Scrivanic walloped one deep over the leftfield fence in the minor league ballpark.

“Matt hit a foul ball in the second at-bat almost further than the home run, but he struck out twice going into that third at-bat,” Hausmann said. “I do think he felt ‘I’m on it, he got me the first two times, but I think I’ll get to him at some point.’”

And when he got to him, Scrivanic knew it immediately as he watched it sail over the wall. His coach wasn’t quite as certain.

“He crushed it,” Hausmann said. “I thought it was gone, but that park is so big I wasn’t sure.”

It proved to be the winning blow for the Caseys, who added a run in the sixth and got lockdown relief pitching from Svenson. The sophomore allowed one hit and struck out five in two innings of work.

He saved it for starter Alex Stanyek, who pitched a gutsy five innings. The junior struggled with an oblique issue that was causing some pain. He allowed four hits and five walks but struck out nine and limited the damage to two runs.

“Alex just gutted it out,” Hausmann said. “He said ‘It hurts, but it’s not gonna get any worse, I can just figure this out.’ I left him in after they got a couple hits. I wasn’t sure I made the right decision, but he had gotten us there, so he deserves a little more leash.”

Stanyek was aided by a stellar defensive play from catcher Shane Andrus. After Jackson scored twice, they had runners on second and third. A grounder went to shortstop Nico Gonzalez, who threw high and wide to home trying to nail the runner. Andrus managed to make the catch and the tag to defuse a dangerous situation.

“That would have been the third run, and if Shane doesn’t catch it the ball could have gone off the backstop and put more runners in scoring position,” Hausmann said. “It was a huge play in a big spot.”

Big spots are where RBC seems to thrive this year. In the midst of winning four straight tournament games, the Caseys lost three straight regular season games.

“It frustrates me with the losses,” Hausmann said. “But these games where there’s a lot on the line, they really dial themselves in to do very well, which is nice to see.”

Two of the biggest dialers are the Scrivanic brothers. The family has a link to all three SCT titles as brother Jack was on the 2019 championship team and just completed a monster year for Brookdale Community College. He will go to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., next year, while Matt will play at Monmouth University in West Long Branch and Frank will attend Seton Hall in South Orange in two years.

Matt and Frank were both hampered by injuries early in the season, but they eventually found their stride.

“They’re really good kids, they’re leaders,” Hausmann said. “A lot of our kids do look up to them – the way they play, the way they work, the personalities they have.”

The coach feels his team overall is made up of quality kids who are also firm in their belief of God.

“They pray before every game, it’s always been a tradition,” Hausmann said. “We always get down in a huddle, say a prayer as a team. Some guys have the crosses in the eye black (that protects them from the sun). And there’s a lot of personal kinds of prayers … they do individually.”

The Caseys now take their faith and talent into the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Tournament, and will host Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft June 3. RBC defeated the Colts 4-1 in nine innings in the first round of the Monmouth County Tournament Apr. 30.

Hausmann plans on throwing sophomore Declan Leary in order to give Stanyek’s arm some more rest. Leary is 7-2 with a 0.90 ERA this year.

“It’s not like we’re going from a stud to a dud,” Hausmann said of his pitchers. “They threw (Colin) Reilly already this week and I know he’s their guy. The last two years he’s held us down. If we see him for a third time, I think we’ll be OK, especially the way we’re playing right now. But I don’t know who they’re gonna throw now that they had to use him this week. I like my chances there a little more.”