By Alexis Brudnicki
Heading into the final frame down by one, Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.)rallied and came back to win 3-2 in extra innings against Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) in the championship game of USA Baseball’s inaugural National High School Invitational tournament.
Left fielder Ryan Barr hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth with bases loaded, plating Ty Moore to end the game and releasing the entire Monarchs bench onto the field and into a frenzy. The four straight wins, including three against top-ranked teams, put Mater Dei in contention to move up in the standings.
“After the tournament, I think so,” Monarchs head coach Burt Call said of his team making a case to be No. 1. “I think we’ve proven that we’ve played quality competition and I think we’ve proved ourselves nationwide this week.”
Mater Dei took advantage of the long ball in the final game of the week, with Ryan McMahon going deep in the fourth and Davis Tominaga launching his first home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at two.
Both sides had strong pitching performances in the final. Brandon Deere got the start for Harvard-Westlake and went seven strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout.
“For a senior to get on this stage and perform the way he did, after not getting a lot of chances early in our season, I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort he gave,” Wolverines head coach Matt LaCour said. “He did everything we asked him to do today.
“Two runs he gave up in seven innings, from an offensive point, we’ve got to make that good enough. I couldn’t be happier about his performance and the way he handled himself.”
Harvard-Westlake had to go to their bullpen for the first time in the tournament, with Alex Rand-Lewis throwing the final 2/3 of an inning, allowing one unearned run on one hit. Barr hit the first pitch he saw from Rand-Lewis to end the game.
“That was a first-pitch curveball,” LaCour said. “That’s Alex’s best pitch. The guy hit it. We were in a bad spot there. We put ourselves in a bad spot with a couple of errors, so at that point in time it’s mano-y-mano and the guy made a good swing on a good pitch.”
Mater Dei used three hurlers to get through the game, with Chase Radan getting the start. The righthander went three innings, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk. Tominaga came in for one frame and struck out two. Moore finished it out with four innings, giving up two hits and a walk, and striking out two batters.
Though the NHSI champions faced their toughest opponent in Saturday’s matchup, the team was not discouraged at any point, evident by the noise their bench continued to make as the game went on.
“In a game like this today, when we’re down and we need some runs, we’re going nuts trying to get a comeback and win a championship like we just did,” infielder Jason Hahn said.
During the tournament, the Monarchs roster has shown a flare for cheerleading, demonstrating their creativity in encouragement. The team really turned things around with the development of ‘the tunnel’, in which players gather after a run comes in, and the scorer makes his way through to emerge on the opposite end of the dugout.
“It really started off in the last game we had before we came to this tournament,” outfielder Tyler Kiehnle said. “It was against Servite High (Anaheim) in the Trinity League, and that’s when we started doing the tunnel. And it really caught on. I think it really got the team going so we decided to carry it on to North Carolina.”
Both Hahn and Kiehnle are credited with starting some of the team’s cheers, including but not limited to the infamous tunnel, ‘the ha’, ‘the hah’, ‘the bow and arrow’, ‘pack it’, ‘shotgun’, and tipping their caps to each of their players as they come to bat.
“The point is that we have a whole bunch of them that we can break out,” Kiehnle said. “But it’s really just to get our team going.”
The tunnel is a clear favorite between the players and their fans.
“It really keeps the momentum going because we do it when we score a run,” the 18-year-old outfielder said. “Then after that everyone gets fired up and I think they all just want to be a part of the tunnel.”
Added Hahn: “Definitely the tunnel (is our favorite). It gets everyone going and you always see all the fans looking in. Just seeing everyone’s face when they come through the tunnel, it goes back to the good old days of playing ball when we were kids.”
Click here to see video of Mater Dei's walk-off hit.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog