With playoffs starting around the country, this is the time to get one last look at players in a game before the draft. Seasons can come to an abrupt end and after that teams would have to resort to pre-draft workouts.
Ty Linton's Charlotte Christian School was the favorite to win the NCISAA 3-A state title and went up against Forsyth Country Day School (Lewisville, N.C.) in the semi-finals on Friday. Forsyth started righthander Adam Griffin on the mound, a 2011 prospect with arm strength. He doesn't have the typical frame with projection, but his fastball ranges from 88-91 mph. He also mixes in a 70-72 slurve. He doesn't have great command, but his stuff is enough to get plenty of outs in high school.
Not only was this game a good matchup between teams, but it would be a good chance to see Linton face a competitive pitcher that would go after him instead of pitching around him. When the teams matched up earlier in the year, there were about 25 scouts on hand. Today there were four.
Here's how the matchup played out (If you were following @BAHighSchool on Twitter today, there are no surprises here):
First at-bat: Griffin started off with a 91 mph fastball high and outside. His second pitch was another 91 fastball, even further outside. It seemed like he was overthrowing. His third pitch was a 72 slurve outside that made the count 3-0. The fourth pitch was a 91 fastball on the outside corner for a called strike. Linton fouled the fifth pitch off, a 90 mph fastball. The sixth pitch was another 91 fastball on the outside corner that caught Linton looking for a strikeout.
Second at-bat: The first pitch of Round Two was an 89 fastball, up and out again. Linton fouled off the second pitch, an 89 fastball that was high and on the outside corner. The third pitch was a slurve at 72, called low for a ball but it was close. Next came an 88 fastball low and outside for a called strike. On the fifth and final pitch, Griffin got Linton swinging on a 73 slurve for a second strikeout.
Third at-bat: Griffin pitched a little backwards in this at-bat, starting Linton off with a 71 slurve for a called strike on the outer half. The second pitch was another 71 slurve that got Linton way out on his front foot. The third pitch was a waste pitch, an 88 fastball low and outside. Griffin then came back with a 72 slurve and froze Linton for another called strike three.
Linton only got three at-bats and was left on deck with two men on and his team down three when Forsyth recorded the final out of the game to advance to the state championship series. It got interesting briefly as the hitter in front of Linton was up 3-0, but Griffin battled back and induced a weak pop-up that the third baseman snared in foul territory. Griffin pitched the complete game, striking out nine.
"He showed up today and I didn't, that's all there is to it," Linton said. "It's not a good way to end your high school career, but I just have to live with it and I look forward to being teammates with him in the future."
By the third at-bat it did seem that Linton was pressing and it just wasn't his day. His head coach, Greg Simmons, certainly attested to that.
"With Ty today, I think he was really pressing at the plate because he understood this was a big game with a big guy on the mound and he was trying to do it all," Simmons said. "He did a good job pitching against Ty and I think he caught him guessing a few times. He guessed wrong a couple times and he got him. That's the first time I've seen him struggle in a long time."
As for Griffin, he was elated after the game and had trouble finding words to describe it. He knew facing Linton would be a big deal and gave it his all.
"I feel great right now, Griffin said. "We all did well. We hit the ball in situations we needed. We just did a great team job. My approach was to throw him everything I've got. Give him my best. It felt great."
Forsyth was down 3-2 going into the seventh, but got a home run from catcher Vince Rogers on the first pitch of the inning. Forsyth then tacked on three more runs on a string of hits and errors as well as a safety squeeze.
"We knew Griffin had to pitch a great game," Forsyth head coach Andy Partin said. "They've got such a good offensive club. Top to bottom they really swing the bat. They come at you with a lot of different weapons. Griffin threw very well. That was gutsy. I'm real proud of him."
On the @BAHighSchool Twitter feed I mentioned an unbelievable play made by outfielder Seth Constable, who has a verbal commitment to South Carolina. The game was played at Finch Field, home of the Thomasville HiToms of the Coastal Plains League. From the left field corner to right-center there is a slight incline where a warning track would normally be. Constable tracked a shot over his head to the slope, but lost his footing when he tried to go up it. It looked like the batter would have an easy triple, but Constable never took his eye off the ball and made a circus catch while sprawled out on the ground. It was a spectacular play.
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