By Alexis Brudnicki
As games finish throughout the day, check this post for final scores, wrap-ups and postgame quotes.
American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) 6, Oxford (Ala.) High 2
American Heritage took advantage of timely hits, free bases and strong pitching to take down Oxford 6-2 in the first game of the National High School Invitational on Wednesday.
Oxford starter Tucker Simpson struck out seven and allowed only three hits on the day. The righthander gave up five walks however, and seemed distracted on the mound when Heritage put in a pinch-running Kevin Williams in the fifth.
"It did," Oxford head coach Wes Brooks said of the pinch runner affecting Simpson. "He was slowing the game down because (Simpson) picked several times but I thought he did a good job. I thought the guy was going to steal early but I thought he did a good job of picking two or three times in a row and then quick-pitching."
American Heritage head coach Bruce Aven acknowledged the change in pace of the game when Williams entered.
"Kevin has a lot of speed," Aven said. "Both teams knew what we were doing. We were going to steal and they knew it. You play a little cat-and-mouse with it and see where it falls."
Simpson walked three batters following Williams' appearance on the basepaths and was taken out of the game. He gave up five earned runs total.
Alex Seibold started for Heritage, and went five innings, allowing two earned runs, walking one and striking out a pair.
"Seibold was our guy today," Aven said. "When you're in a tournament like this you can't afford for your first guy to go out and get rocked in the first couple innings or you're done. So for him to go five innings strong it gives us a chance to keep our pitching for the next game and the next game."
Jackson Stephens highlighted the offense, leading all batters with three hits in the game for Oxford.
"He's been hitting balls hard lately and just finding holes, not hitting them right at them," Brooks said of Stephens. "He's our three-hole hitter and he's one of our better hitters. You want big-time players to make big-time plays in big-time games. He came and he showed up today and played well."
Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) 6, Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) 2
Starting pitching was no problem for the team missing top prospect Lucas Giolito on Wednesday, as sophomore righthander Jack Flaherty led Harvard-Westlake to a 6-2 victory over Russell County.
Flaherty went the full seven innings for the Wolverines, allowing two earned runs, scattering eight hits, walking none and striking out six. The complete game was the second for the righthander this season, using only 100 pitches in his outing in Cary.
Harvard-Westlake head coach Matt LaCour has been impressed with not only Flaherty, but with the way his entire team has stepped up to compete with the loss of Giolito to injury.
“Lucas being back at home getting healthy definitely puts a hit on us in terms of our depth on the mound,” LaCour said. “We’ve been fortunate up to this point. Some guys have stepped up and really done a good job and I expect them to kind of continue to do that. But four games in four days is a lot.”
Righthander Jesse Nelson took the hill for Russell County, also hurling a complete game. Nelson gave up nine hits, six runs (four earned), two walks and four strikeouts.
“I thought he did pretty well,” Warriors head coach Tony Rasmus. “In the fourth inning, all of a sudden his mechanics got a little goofy and he walked a few guys and that kind of caused him a few runs that inning. After that he was pretty good. He was solid. I told him we actually lost 4-2 without all those errors and stuff, so it wasn’t bad.”
Outfielder Rock Rucker made an impact in his first game at the NHSI, launching a ball to the fence, caught just before leaving the park, and then hitting a stand-up triple in his next at-bat.
“He’s a big-game player,” Rasmus said. “A lot of people have doubted him. When he transferred to us I called a bunch of scouts and said, ‘What about this guy?’ And probably it’s how scouts are, they all had different opinions, but the majority of them said he kind of might not be as good as the hype. And he’s lived up to all the hype as far as I’m concerned.”
Rucker will have a chance to live up to the hype on the mound tomorrow as he makes the start for the Warriors.
Brookwood High (Snellville, Ga.) 7, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) High 0
Righthander Lucas Sims dominated against Highlands Ranch, throwing 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 11 batters in a 7-0 victory for Brookwood against the Falcons on Wednesday.
The Broncos got on the board in the third inning, giving Sims a one-run lead that would prove to be all he needed. Sims completed six frames in total, allowing the single hit and walking three batters.Brookwood took a stranglehold over the game with a six-run fifth inning, impressing head coach Rick Howard, who had been hoping to see more from the offense.
"He was outstanding today," Howard said of his starter. "He really was. I was very, very impressed with him. He's come a long way. I know he's gotten a lot of accolades but he's pitching now. And he's doing a great job. I'm really impressed with him and impressed with our kids, the way they played behind him. We hadn't been swinging it really well coming in, but today in some key situations, we swung."
Highlands Ranch head coach John Cackowski was almost equally in awe of Sims as his own coach was, and believes that having his team face the tough righthander was a good learning experience for them.
"It was just great baseball," Cackowski said. "It was 1-0 for five innings. Sims obviously is a very good pitcher. We got better by facing him today I think. We learned a couple things that we need to work on but aside from that iI think we were competing the whole game and we had one bad inning. He's a tough load that kid, that's for sure."
Righthander Ryan Burr got the start for Highlands Ranch and went 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out eight. The appearance was his longest so far this season, which Cackowski believed played a part in the fifth-inning rally against him.
"I felt that Ryan did a good job of pitching," the Falcons coach said. "This is the first time we've tried to stretch him out this season. This is just our fifth game of the year. I think that he probably got winded in the fifth inning a little bit."
Though Ryan Woodard led the Broncos offensively with three runs driven in on a bases-clearing double, it was Brookwood's leadoff hitter, Trejorn Lawrence, who most impressed his coach.
"Trey Lawrence came up with a big hit and we were able to get two runs across," Howard said. "I'd have to look at Trey (as the biggest offensive standout), and that's more about where he's been and where he was today. He's come a long way."
Despite the loss and the numbers on the scoreboard, Cackowski believes that the positives his team got from the game will help them progress further in the tournament.
"We had a lot of walks today, we got deep into counts today, we had quality at-bats, with guys seeing five or six pitches an at-bat, and seeing more pitches after two strikes," he said. "We had a couple chances to do something, to put some pressure on (Sims) and we just couldn't get that big hit to do that. They had their big inning, and we'll find ours."
Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.) 11, Washington High (New York) 3
Eight different Parkview batters notched hits and just as many crossed the plate as the Panthers pounded the Trojans 11-3 Wednesday afternoon.
The Trojans scored first in the bottom of the opening frame, but couldn't hold onto their lead. Parkview got on the board early and kept coming, scoring one in the second, two in the third, three in the fourth and five in the sixth inning.
Matt Olson impressed on the hill for Parkview, throwing six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits, with one walk and five strikeouts. Olson also helped out his own cause offensively, going 2-for-3 with a triple, two walks, and two runs driven in.
Panthers shortstop Edwin Arias was equally impressive with his bat, also going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs, and scoring three runs in the game.
"We played as a team today, and that's our goal every time out," Parkview head coach Chan Brown said. "We had a shortstop who played very well for us, and obviously Olson pitched a great game for us. We had some good quality at-bats early that turned into some hits at big points in the game."
Righthander Kevin Torres started for George Washington and went 5 1/3 frames, giving up nine hits, eight runs (seven earned), three walks, and striking out three.
Randy Rodriguez was the only Trojan batter who appeared to get to Olson, getting two of the team total three hits against the righthander.
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High 1, Columbus (Ga.) High 0
A pitching duel between Kyle Carter from Columbus and Orange Lutheran's Art Moran-Vidrio highlighted the first day of the NHSI tournament, as the Lancers prevailed 1-0 over the Blue Devils.
Vidrio came out on top in the battle of the lefthanders after completing six innings, giving up just three hits, walking one, hitting one batter and fanning five. He was the beneficiary not only of a run in support, but also a trick play by the home team that helped his cause.
With two outs in the sixth inning and a runner on second, second baseman Travis Blue pulled the hidden-ball trick, masking the ball with his glove long enough to catch the runner off the base, tag him, and end the inning.
"That's something our second baseman Travis Blue has had in his back pocket, that he's kind of picked up over the years and he does it at practice, he's worked on it all the time," Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba said. "And it's tough to get everything to work exactly correct, to have an umpire watching, get the baserunner off the base, and it's just practice and repetition. We've been working on it and it just came through for us today."
Though Borba's team came through on the trick play they are rumored to have been trying for a few years, the Lancers coach wasn't overly impressed by the way they performed in the victory.
"That was just a gritty win," Borba said. "We really didn't play very well to be honest with you. We got picked off three times, we made what we thought was three errors and didn't do a whole lot right other than on the mound. But it just says to the character of (Vidrio), he made a huge pitch to end the inning in the bottom of the sixth and it just kind of showed the kind of character and the kind of competitor that he is. I don't think he had his best stuff. His velocity was actually a little bit down from what we're used to seeing and he definitely didn't have a breaking ball. But he found a way to get very good hitters out. That's a good ball club over there that he just shut down."
The Blue Devils pitching counterpart, Carter, went the distance but received no run support from the team behind him. Columbus' southpaw finished six frames, allowing one earned run on five hits, walking two, hitting two batters and striking out three.
"We wasted a heck of a pitching performance by Carter," Columbus head coach Bobby Howard said. "That was the big thing. We just waited too late to get some things going. We didn't even have three hits going into the last inning. I don't think we had a hit until the fourth or fifth. They pitched well but our guy did too. We had a couple chances. The hidden-ball trick, that didn't help us none. I also didn't believe that. But more than anything else, we just didn't swing the bats. We got four hits and we had three going into the last inning and none of them consecutively. We didn't have a lot of baserunners so we've got to give them a lot of credit. Their pitcher did a great job."
Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) 10, Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas) 3
The battery of Davis Tominaga and Jeremy Martinez, along with an eight-run third inning, led Mater Dei to a 10-3 victory over Bishop Gorman in the final game of the first day of the NHSI tournament.
Tominaga and Martinez each went 3-for-4 on the day with a double and a run scored apiece. The Monarchs catcher also drove one run in, as nine different hitters crossed the plate for Mater Dei.
The righthander pitched all seven frames, scattering 10 hits, giving up three runs (two earned), walking three and striking out one.
Tominaga's counterpart, Cody Roper, didn't fare as well for the Gaels. Roper lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits, with one hit batsman and two strikeouts. Roper was taken out of the game in favour of Neiko Martinez. Martinez went 4 2/3 frames, allowing four hits, one earned run, two walks and striking out four.
Justin Jones led the offesnse for Bishop Gorman, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a run driven in.
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