By Alexis Brudnicki
As games finish throughout the day, check this post for final scores, wrap-ups and postgame quotes.
Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) 5, Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.) 7
Russell county struggled in the field, wasting a solid pitching performance from righthander Todd Dial, as the Parkview Panthers took down the Warriors 7-5 in the first game of Friday's National High School Invitational action.
Dial went all six innings for Russell County, giving up just one earned run of the seven that the Warriors surrendered, on nine hits, walking two batters and striking out six. The defense behind the righthander committed a total of five errors in the game.
"Horrible defense," Russell County head coach Tony Rasmus said. "That's the story of our year. We've been absolutely brutal in the field. I tell you what, if I could trade our guys for two or three more fielders, it'd be a good time to do it.
"I'm so sick of seeing errors. Just on routine plays, we just make error after error. All of (the runs) were unearned weren't they? Todd threw an outstanding game and to get a loss, it's just terrible. It's terrible; hard to watch."
Coming into Friday's game, Dial had been undefeated through his four trips to the mound. Rasmus has been impressed with his righty on the hill, though he doesn't garner much attention.
"He's been up to 91 (mph) earlier in the year," the Warriors coach said. "He's a little-bitty guy, so he doesn't get a lot of love from scouts and whathaveyou, but he's a good pitcher. He throws a changeup, and a curveball.
"They struggled with him. They started looking off-speed when he was throwing the fastball by them because he doesn't throw 70. He throws 85-88. It was just a good outing. I think he was 4-0 before this, so this is his first loss of the year."
Jesse Foster got the start for Parkview and came out on top despite giving up 12 hits to the Warriors. The righthander threw six innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out two. Jack Esmonde came on in relief for the final inning and gave up two runs (one earned) on one hit.
Highlands Ranch (Colo.) High 3, George Washington High (New York) 2
George Washington had their best outing of the tournament so far, with 11 strikeouts from Edwin Corniel in a complete-game effort, but ended up on the losing end of a 3-2 affair with Highlands Ranch.
The Trojans have yet to win a game at the NHSI, but head coach Steve Mandl believes that the team he's seeing on the field isn't the same one that he's seen earlier this year.
"We're not really showing our true selves out here," Mandl said. "I'm not sure what's going on. We came out a little bit better today and I thought we were going to play the way we normally do and then we were ahead, and we threw the ball away, which is what we've been doing every game. So it's too late to do something here but hopefully we can fix it by the time we get home."
The Trojans recorded just five hits off of Highlands Ranch righthander Tony Audino in his complete-game effort. Audino gave up two runs (one earned), walked three and struck out six.
Though Corniel baffled the Falcons batters, he gave up three runs (two earned) on a total of nine hits. He also walked three batters in the effort. The defense behind him behind him committed one error.
"We're not doing anything right," Mandl said. "The defense is really bad, the mental part of the game is really bad, we're not hitting with any thought. We're striking out too much, pitchers are throwing too many pitches, they're walking too many.
"Usually we're a kind of team that if one facet's not going right, we can make up for it. But when all four, five or six things are going wrong, it's hard to win games that way and that's what we have to try to fix. And we're sitting down every night, all the coaches, trying to figure out what's going on. People keep asking me, 'Are the kids nervous?' Not at all. Most of them have been on big stages before. We've played in championship games in Yankee and Shea Stadium so they've gone to all these national showcases. It's not nervousness, we just can't figure out what's going on."
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High 7, Brookwood High (Snellville, Ga.) 4
Sophomore righthander Garett King threw a 64-pitch, seven-inning complete game to lead Orange Lutheran to a 7-4 win over Brookwood on Friday.
King allowed four runs (one earned) on seven hits, striking out two in the effort. The fielders behind him committed three errors, but the 15-year-old kept the Lancers in the game.
"(That's) just what we've seen all year from him," Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba said. "For a 15-year-old kid, just a sophomore, it's just so fun to watch him pitch because he commands three pitches, four pitches actually. And he can throw any pitch at any time.
"He just did a great job. He went seven innings right there with three errors behind him in 64 pitches. And that's just a little bit about what he does and what we teach our pitchers, to throw strikes and use your defense. Unfortunately we didn't play very good defense, but he did exactly what we asked."
The game was tied at four runs apiece heading into the final frame. The Lancers hitters put pressure on the Broncos defense and capitalized on some Brookwood mistakes to plate three in the top of the inning.
"We did some good things offensively," Borba said. "We put pressure on them and that's our philosophy. High school kids are going to make mistakes. We had runners on base and put pressure on their defense and made them make plays. And fortunately for us, that pressure paid off because they didn't make all the plays."
Allen Tokarz started on the hill for Brookwood. The righthander finished 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs, four walks and striking out one batter.
Sarasota (Fla.) High 1, Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) 5
Mater Dei continued to tear through its opponents in the NSHI, taking down Sarasota 5-1 to secure its spot in the championship game on Saturday.
Ty Moore scored the go-ahead run with an RBI-single in the fifth inning. The outfielder went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and two runs driven in on the day.
"He's impressive," Monarchs head coach Burt Call said. "He's one of the best baseball players to come through Mater Dei. He'll continue to work hard and continue to compete."
Mater Dei used three pitchers to get through the Sailors lineup. Charlie Vorscheck got the start and went 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits, walking two and striking out six. Brian Conley came on in relief for 2/3 of an inning, allowing a hit and two walks, also notching a strikeout.
When Conley got into a jam in the final frame, Call went to his bullpen to bring in Chase Radan with the bases juiced. Radan closed out the last inning and struck out one batter.
"That was a heart-stopper," Call said. "Chase Radan came in and did a great job, especially with bases loaded and nobody out, coming up with some clutch outs for us. So that was huge for us."
Sarasota proved to be a tougher opponent than many thought as they came into the tournament after losing two of their top players. After winning their first game against Lee County by double digits and upsetting Orange Lutheran in their second game on Thursday, the Sailors kept Mater Dei's offense to the fewest number of runs they've put up so far.
"They did," Call said of Sarasota giving them a tough time. "I thought their pitcher worked in and out effectively, got ahead in counts and then kept us off-balance. Then they made plays, we hit some balls hard right at them and they were able to make some plays. They're a good defensive club and they did a great job."
Righthander Trevor Wilson pitched Sarasota's third complete game in a row, throwing six innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, walking three and fanning one batter.
Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas) 8, Carroll High (Corpus Christi, Texas) 4
Joey Gallo brought his bat to the field in Bishop Gorman's third game of the NHSI tournament and helped his team in an 8-4 takedown of the Carroll Tigers on Friday.
Gallo notched a two-run single in the sixth inning for his first hit of the tournament. The first baseman went 1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and the two runs driven in on the day, after going hitless in his first six at-bats with four strikeouts.
"He's been pressing," Bishop Gorman head coach Nick Day said. "There's been a lot of pressure on him. He's got a hundred eyeballs on him every time he steps on the field and he's been trying to do too much.
"I know eventually he's going to relax and come back to being the star that he is and today was a good sign. His at-bats were a lot better. He still missed a couple pitches he normally doesn't miss but it was a lot better and hopefully he builds on this from today and has a great day tomorrow."
The win was the first for the Gaels in Cary, after being upset by Mater Dei in the first round and Gulliver Prep in their second game.
"It's a huge win," Day said. "In the first game, Mater Dei, they just poured it on us. They came out swinging and they played a great game and I feel like yesterday we had a little bit of a letdown after the loss and we just kind of weren't ourselves yesterday. It was nice to see us bounce back.
"We had good energy today. Guys had good swings, good at-bats, we had a great pitching performance. And I'm really glad we had a chance to play a team as good as Carroll and kind of show that we belong and the rankings and the accolades that we've gotten this season, they're legit. When we're playing well, we're awfully tough to beat. So I'm glad we're still getting a chance to play some good teams and show what Bishop Gorman baseball is all about."
Adam Wozniak got the start for the Gaels and completed all seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with five strikeouts. The Tigers counterpart, Chris Cano, went five frames, giving up eight runs (five earned) on eight hits, walking four and striking out two.
Lee County High (Sanford, N.C.) 0, Oxford (Ala.) High 4
Zach Lovvorn threw a two-hit shutout, striking out six and needing only 75 pitches to get through his seven innings, helping Oxford to a 4-0 win over Lee County on Friday afternoon.
The Oxford Yellow Jackets got out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the first, resulting in an early exit for Lee County righthander Hampton Thomas. Thomas got through 1 1/3 innings, giving up those three earned runs on four hits with four walks.
Pressley Hales came on in relief for the Lee County Yellow Jackets and finished 4 2/3 frames, allowing one run on two hits, with two walks and a strikeout.
"We kind of died down and our swings changed a little bit," Oxford head coach Wes Brooks said of Hales' presence in the game. "But when you get an early lead like that a good team will continue to press and continue to add one or two here and there. Our bats went dead.
"But Zach pitched seven innings and to throw just 75 pitches, that's an average of about 11 pitches per inning, which is awesome. He never gave them a chance to even breathe. And that was huge for Zach. Obviously with Tucker (Simpson) throwing the first day and Jackson (Stephens) throwing the second day, and to have a third pitcher on the third day like Zach Lovvorn come in and just totally dominate the game like that, it's just…I feel blessed to be the coach of the Oxford Yellow Jackets."
Oxford's coach tipped his cap to a strong effort from the opposing Yellow Jackets, who just couldn't string anything together against Lovvorn.
"A tribute to Lee County," Brooks said. "They had a tough game yesterday. I think it was a 3-2 ball game in the fifth and they ended up giving up a few runs late, but their team is solid. They went up there swinging the bat against Lovvorn.
"They didn't make them look ugly; they actually just hit some hard balls right at us and our defense was able to make the plays…I think today we won it by pitching and defense, as opposed to yesterday putting together a few hits and getting some runs on the board."
Gulliver Prep (Pinecrest, Fla.) 1, Columbus (Ga.) High 4
Avery Seckinger held Gulliver Prep to just two hits on Friday afternoon and Pierce Ressmeyer notched two doubles and two RBIs to give Columbus a 4-1 victory over the Raiders.
The Blue Devils' righthander went the full seven innings, giving up one run with a walk and a strikeout. Seckinger's lone mistake pitch was a home run to Raiders catcher Chris Chinea.
"He did a good job," Columbus head coach Bobby Howard said. "He spotted his fastball on both sides (of the plate) and had a good changeup working today. Him and (the pitching) coach and (catcher) Pierce were all on the same page and it worked out well."
The game was the seventh for the Blue Devils over the last seven days, with wear and tear starting to show in their first two games at the tournament. Howard spoke to his team before the game, letting them know that excuses are not acceptable.
"I told them before the game, I said, 'I know you're tired,'" the Columbus coach said. "'Everybody's beat up and tired. But the world's been run by sick and tired people, so hey, y'all figure it out.'"
The Blue Devils appeared to figure it out, limiting their errors in the field and making the most of their hits.
"(Hunter) Swilling had a couple good hits today," Howard said. "The big hit though, the one that broke it open, was Ressmeyer, the big hit up the middle, no doubt. And Seckinger just really pitched well.
"And the other thing is, we made all the plays. They hit some balls hard on the infield; we turned a big double play. We turned two ground-ball double plays…It all comes back to pitching and defense. Seckinger threw great and we made all the plays behind him and got a couple key hits."
Javy Lopez started for Gulliver Prep and went five innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Luki De La Cruz came on in relief for the final frame and walked one and struck out two.
American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) 0, Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) 1
It took extra innings to end the pitchers' duel going on between Harvard-Westlake's Hans Hansen and American Heritage's Shaun Anderson in the last game of Friday's NHSI action.
Max Fried hit a walk-off single in the ninth to plate the lone run of the game and send the Wolverines to the championship game on Saturday morning.
"That was wild," Harvard-Westlake head coach Matt LaCour said immediately after the win. "Hans Hansen pitched his tail off. It really comes down to that. He hasn't had a chance to go extended innings this year for us and (he threw) 97 pitches in nine innings.
"(He) challenged hitters, let them hit the ball, and our defense stepped up every bit of the way in some pretty pressure-packed situations. You feel good about being a coach on a day like today."
American Heritage managed eight hits off of the Wolverines righty, including two singles from shortstop Brandon Diaz. Diaz was removed from the game in the top of the seventh after a collision at the plate took him out with a likely shoulder dislocation.
"He did slide in head-first on that situation," Patriots head coach Bruce Aven said. "The catcher's foot was down and he went down after it."
On the hill for American Heritage, Anderson completed 8 1/3 innings and was charged with the run. The righthander also walked one and struck out four.
"Outstanding," Aven said of his righty. "They helped us out, too, by swinging at some pitches out of the zone, to allow us to extend him that long. (The extra innings) kind of hurt us a little bit."
Southpaw Brandon Diaz (unrelated to the aforementioned player of the same name) gave up the hit to Fried, the only batter he faced, allowing the inherited runner to score.
Harvard-Westlake now moves on the championship game, facing Mater Dei in an all-California final.
"Let's go," LaCour said.
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