CHARLESTON, S.C.—Hanahan (S.C.) High was the place to be on a sunny and warm Wednesday afternoon. The Hanahan Invitational Tournament featured a matchup between two teams that are top powers in their respective states and have All-Americans. St. Edward High of Lakewood, Ohio gladly made the trip south for warmer weather. Mount Pleasant’s Wando High was practically playing in its backyard. St. Edward is the only school in the country with two preseason All-Americans—righthander/third baseman Stetson Allie and catcher Alex Lavisky—while Wando is led by righthander Drew Cisco.
Lavisky said it was great to be seeing better competition—and the sunshine sure didn't hurt, either.
"This is a lot better than Cleveland, Ohio, that's for sure," Lavisky said. "We've only played three games up there so far, so this is our sixth game we've played all year, so it's nice to get that feel—especially for me and Stetson, since we'll be coming down to the South to play baseball."
Everyone in the industry anticipated the two teams would go 2-0 in the bracket-style tourmanet, setting up a semi-final matchup that would pit Allie against Cisco, a Top 20 prospect showdown. There was a brief panic when Wando lost its second game, but the stars aligned and host Hanahan beat St. Edward, preserving the contest.
At least 60 scouts, crosscheckers and front office personnel were on hand and the game didn’t disappoint. Both pitchers were themselves, displaying different ends of the spectrum of righthanded pitching. Allie has a power arsenal with a fastball that sits 93-95 mph and can touch 97 and slider that is inconsistent but sometimes has hard bite, though his control has a ways to go. Cisco uses less stuff but more savvy to get outs. He commands all of his pitches and sets opponents up well.
In the first inning, Allie walked the leadoff man, who was moved over with a sacrifice bunt. He followed that up with a strikeout before walking the fourth hitter. His batterymate, Lavisky, bailed him out by showing his agility behind the plate and picking the runner off at first to end the inning.
The bottom of the first was vintage Cisco. The leadoff hitter’s contact was bad enough that it sounded like he broke his bat, which resulted in a groundout to third. The second hitter, third baseman Tommy Mirabelli, got his first of two hits off Cisco when he went with an outside fastball and sliced it to left for a single. Cisco then caught Allie looking on a low fastball and got Lavisky to pop out weakly to shortstop. His fastball was sitting 88-90, touching 91 and he worked in an 11-to-5 curveball for strikes that sat 74-76.
Allie’s second inning of work was ugly to say the least. He struck out the first hitter, then allowed three straight baserunners on his own error, a walk and bunt single. With the bases loaded he struck the No. 9 hitter out, putting him just an out away from escaping the jam. But he drilled the leadoff hitter with a 97 mph fastball in the hand to force in the first run, walked the next guy and surrendered a two-run single. He walked the ninth batter of the inning and finally escaped with a popout to short. He threw 38 pitches that inning, allowing four runs on two hits, three walks and a hit batter.
After pitching from the wind-up in the first inning, Allie switched to going from the stretch which seemed to work temporarily, but after things went awry he went back and forth, seeming uncomfortable.
"I felt great, I just couldn't find the strike zone," Allie said. "I'm not going to make excuses, I just couldn't find the strike zone."
Allie said he had trouble getting comfortable on the mound.
"I made a little adjustment in the third and fourth inning, that's why I was throwing from the stretch—I couldn't find it from the windup," he said. "I couldn't find my slider command at all. But it was my second start of the year and I just have to get back out there."
Up 4-0, Cisco turned on the cruise control. He faced four hitters in his second inning of work, striking out two and recording an assist on a weak comebacker, while one batter reached on an error. He went 1-2-3 in the third before having to face Allie and Lavisky again in the fourth.
"He's a great pitcher," Lavisky said of Cisco. "He has a lot of movement on his fastball. He's good and he was excellent for them today. We just couldn't find hits against him, I guess. He has three good pitches he can throw for strikes whenever he wants. That's lethal, especially when you're playing a team like us that hasn't seen a lot of live pitching yet."
Cisco pitched around Allie some, issuing a walk, but got Lavisky to ground into a fielder’s choice and got another strikeout and groundout to get out of the inning. The second time through the lineup he started to work in a 75 mph change that had sink to it.
“I felt like my pitches were working,” Cisco said. “This game was real anticipated. My control with my fastball and keeping the ball down was working. My offspeed stuff was working too. I worked my changuep in later and was able to execute real well.”
Allie went relatively unscathed in the third, getting two strikeouts and allowing a single that was negated by another Lavisky pickoff. He allowed two hits in the fourth that amounted to nothing and recorded two more strikeouts. That was the end of his day as he was sitting at 96 pitches after four innings. His final line consisted of four innings, five hits, four runs (although they were all unearned), five walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts.
Cisco gave up a home run in the fifth, just one of four balls that exited the infield and the only blemish on his outing. He finished with 109 pitches in the complete game, giving up one run on three hits and two walks while striking out nine.
“Drew was solid as ever,” Wando head coach Jeff Blankenship said. “His strike percentage is always really high. That’s the key, getting ahead. He started (this season) out strong and has only given up two earned runs so far.”
Contributing: Conor Glassey
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