Before the first semifinal game of the National High School Invitational, USA Baseball had a small ceremony to honor members of the 16-and-under and 18-and-under national teams that were in attendance.
Catchers Arden Pabst and Zack Collins helped the 16U squad win a gold medal against Cuba at the IBAF World Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, last August. Collins was named to the tournament's all star team after hitting .500/.590/.875 with three home runs in 32 at-bats. Collins is a junior at American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) and committed to Miami.
Pabst is a junior at Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) and was on the field with his head coach, Matt LaCour, who was a coach for the 16U trials last summer. Charlie Spivey, the head coach at Lee County High (Sanford, N.C.), was an assistant coach with team, but his team was had a game during the ceremony.
"It's awesome," Collins said of his return to Cary, N.C. "Obviously, Team USA has top of the line players and now we get to play against them."
On the field representing the 18U team was Joey Gallo and Jeremy Martinez. Nelson Rodriguez, a catcher for Washington High (New York), was also a member of the team, but was playing during the ceremony.
The 18U team had an interesting summer as the Pan Am Championships were delayed until November due to an act of Mother Nature in Cartagena, Colombia. Team USA won the gold medal with a 12-2 win over Canada on Nov. 27. Jeremy Martinez, a junior catcher at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), hit .387/.558/.548 with nine RBIs and 10 runs scored in 31 at-bats. Gallo, a corner infielder and righthander at Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas), hit .275/.403/.412 and drove in 10 runs in 51 at-bats.
"It's really cool coming back," Gallo said. "It's cool being the guy that knows what's going on around here because no one else from Vegas has been out here. It's a weird feeling being here with my high school and not Team USA, but I like it. It's fun to come back and get the ring that we all worked so hard to get."
On Thursday, USA Baseball honored two coaches from North Carolina that received awards from the organization. Jeff Hewitt, the head coach at Pinecrest High in Southern Pines, was named the USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year. Kerry Kincaid, the former head coach of East Wake High in Wendell, was given USA Baseball's Volunteer Coach of the Year award.
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