All Byron Buxton wanted was a state championship. The Appling County High (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder is likely to be one of the first three picks in next week's draft as a hitter, but he had other things on his mind Thursday night when he took the mound. The Pirates dropped Game 1 of the Georgia 2-A state championship series against Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.), but took Game 2.
After a few postponements because of Tropical Storm Beryl, the two rivals finally got to face off in a decisive Game 3. The rivalry had a chance to get so heated that state troopers were at Appling County's field to make sure things stayed civil between fans.
Buxton took the hill again and practically granted himself his own wish. In seven innings he struck out 18 batters. He allowed four runs, but three of those came in the last inning. Through five innings, 15 outs were recorded via the strikeout, with another coming on a ground out—one runner reached on a passed ball on strike three.
"Before the game I asked him, 'Are you ready?'" head coach Jeremy Smith said. "He simply said, 'I've got you.' He was untouchable. He was on tonight."
Smith added that Buxton used his slider tonight, but mostly reached backed and overpowered hitters with his fastball.
The title is Appling County's first ever in a male sport.
By Walter Villa
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The eight-day Florida state tournament got off to a dramatic start Thursday as the No. 1 team in the nation got beat, a potential first-round prospect was brilliant but failed to get the win and another pitching star ran out of gas.
No. 1 Jesuit High (Tampa) was defeated, 3-0, by Plantation's American Heritage High—currently ranked 14th—in eight innings. Jesuit star Lance McCullers took a no-decision against the Patriots.
McCullers, who threw 138 pitches in his previous start last Friday, was held to just 93 in six shutout innings against Heritage. He allowed five hits and three walks and struck out nine. He hit one batter and lowered his miniscule ERA, which was 0.11 before the game.
Two innings after McCullers exited the game, American Heritage’s ninth-place hitter, Brandon Diaz, virtually ended it. He hit a three-run homer in the top of the eighth off of lefthander John Kilichowski, a Vanderbilt recruit.
But even though McCullers was not in the game when it was decided, he was the talk of the postgame press conference.
“I was expecting a little better,” Diaz said. “(Heritage Coach Bruce Aven) has been saying that he didn’t believe McCullers was 97-98 (mph) like everyone was saying. He believes that he can hit that but not be consistent (at that velocity).”
After the first inning, Diaz said his coach told the team that McCullers was throwing 93-94 – not the upper 90s. [...] Continue Reading »
The draft is just three weeks away and the phones are heating up at Baseball America. Despite being extremely busy, we don't want you to miss out on some tidbits from around the high school baseball landscape. Here are some notes on recent news and links that won't cause you to miss a scheduled start:
• While some are unsure how much he'll hit at the pro level or if his arm is destined for the mound, there's no question Joey Gallo (Bishop Gorman High, Las Vegas) has the best raw power in this year's prep class. He came into the season with 46 career home runs and has 14 so far, which puts him in the Top 10 all time according to the National Federation of High Schools record book. Bishop Gorman is seeking a seventh straight 4-A title in Nevada, but had to go through the loser's bracket in the Sunset Region to qualify.
• Lance McCullers Jr. has walked 14 batters in his last three starts, but he gutted out a 130-plus pitch start to send Tampa's Jesuit High back to the state tournament. The Tigers are currently No. 1 in the Baseball America Top 25 and will face No. 14 American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) in the semifinals. [...] Continue Reading »
Timing is everything in baseball and Mount Si High (Snoqualmie, Wash.) has found a rhythm at the perfect time. Coming off a 3-A state title in 2011, the Wildcats had high expectations for 2012 with a strong pitching staff returning and an offense with potential. Mount Si got off to a strong start at 7-1 and debuted in the Baseball America Top 25 on April 10, but hit a snag and was out by the next poll after losing a couple of close games.
"We started off well," head coach Elliot Cribby said. "We played some good teams and found out who we really were. We started conference play and hit a little lull."
Since losing to Bellevue (Wash.) High on April 18, the Wildcats won seven straight games to claim a second straight conference title. While the offense has room for improvement, the pitching has come as advertised. Mount Si has three arms that Cribby refers to as 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3.
"Our third best guy is Trevor Taylor and he had the lowest ERA on the team," he said. "They've put up numbers that were better than last year. It's going to be interesting."
Righthander Reece Karalus is the staff's so-called ace and is sporting a 6-1, 0.77 record with 71 strikeouts and 14 walks in 45 innings. Taylor's low ERA was passed by Karalus, but he's still sporting a 4-1, 0.93 record with 27 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 innings. Lefty Trevor Lane rounds out the group with a 5-1, 2.25 line and 67 strikeouts in 37 innings. He's allowed only 11 walks. [...] Continue Reading »
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