Just like Pod 1 of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, Pod 3 has a matchup that should get scouts excited. The first game has Tullahoma (Tenn.) High, the preseason No. 22 team, facing No. 8 Mater Dei—the defending NHSI champs. Tullahoma's ace is Jordan Sheffield, the No. 7 high school prospect and would have to face big bats in catcher Jeremy Martinez (No. 31) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (No. 66).
The second game has Lexington (S.C.) High going up against Miami's Florida Christian. Lexington went 10-15 in 2011, but veteran coach Brian Hucks took over and immediately turned things around. The Wildcats went 27-4 last season and are the state's top team heading into 2013. The offense is led by catcher Nick Ciuffo, a South Carolina recruit and the No. 19 high school prospect. Florida Christian is a consistent contender in South Florida and has lefty Christian Pelaez as the staff ace. A Louisiana State recruit, Pelaez is known for his pitchability. [...] Continue Reading »
Pod 1 of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational features San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High against Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) and Venice (Fla.) High against Memphis' Christian Brothers High. The first matchup pits the preseason Nos. 3 and 9 teams against each other and should be a highlight for scouts. Teams are likely to send their aces out in the first round so it's possible we could see lefthander Stephen Gonsalves take the hill for Cathedral Catholic, setting up an excellent showdown between him and outfielder Austin Meadows, the top prospect for the 2013 draft.
The second game has a defending state champ in Venice and perennial contender in Christian Brothers. Venice returns six starters from last year's team, including outfielder Nick Longhi, the No. 69 high school prospect. Christian Brothers has 10 state titles and two junior pitchers committed to Division I programs—John Wesley Ray (Ole Miss) and Corey Herndon (Arkansas). [...] Continue Reading »
The 2013 USA Baseball National High School Invitational is set for March 27-30 in Cary, N.C. Sixteen teams are vying for the championship in a single-elimination tournament. Each team is guaranteed four games, but they must win to keep advancing in the winners' bracket.
The 2012 NHSI marked the event's inaugural run and certainly didn't disappoint. Exciting baseball was seen over the four days and the championship was decided in extra innings on a walk-off single. The Baseball America Top 25 rankings saw a great deal of movement with upsets and dominating runs and the draft even felt some effect with players like outfielder Courtney Hawkins having a breakout performance. Hawkins hit a home run and pitched a shutout in a 1-0 win over Miami's Gulliver Prep for Carroll High (Corpus Christi, Texas). He then became the 13th overall pick and reached high Class A for the White Sox in the summer.
This year's field looks to be just as good, if not better. Nine teams were ranked in the Preseason Top 25 and nine players from the High School Top 100 will be on the field playing. San Diego's Cathedral Catholic could be considered the favorite to win simply on its preseason No. 3 ranking, but the Dons also have five Division I arms on the roster and pitching is key to surviving four straight days of top competition. However, Mater Dei can't be counted out given most of their pitching and offense is back from their run last season.
The second annual USA Baseball National High School Invitational, presented by Baseball America, is set for March 27-30 and the tournament field is made up of 16 teams from 10 different states. The event will be held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex and is hosted by the Town of Cary with the The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance partnering as a presenting sponsor too.
Returning from the inaugural event are Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) and Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.), the two teams from last year's inaugural championship game that was decided in extra innings. Mater Dei trailed 2-1 going into the seventh, but tied it up on a home run and walked off in the eighth to claim the first NHSI title.
Just like last year's event, the outcome will have a strong effect on the national rankings while also providing scouts a look at some top draft prospects in highly competitive scenarios. Nine players from Baseball America's Top 100 High School Prospects will compete, including four in the top 20 and the country's top overall player in outfielder Austin Meadows (Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.) as well as the top righthander—Jordan Sheffield (No. 7 overall; Tullahoma, Tenn., HS).
Listed in alphabetical order below is the tournament field with a short capsule on each team as well as a list of the top 10 prospects that will be at the event.
Bingham HS, South Jordan, Utah
It’s hard to argue against Bingham’s case as the top program in Utah and the Miners expect to be in the thick of a state championship run yet again. They finished fourth in the state in 2012 with a 24-6 record and first-place finish at the USA Classic in Tennessee. Head coach Joel Sato has been at the helm since 1993 and has a record of 362-162.
“As in past years, we’ll be expecting the remaining senior class to step into leadership and playing roles,” Sato said.
The Miners have 20 state championships in their history, with at least one title in eight different decades. They’re also familiar with venturing outside state lines to play having played in out of state tournaments since 1981—most notably the USA Classic, Hard 9 National Classic in California and Big League Dugout National Invitational in Arizona. Last year’s team boasted righthander Brady Lail, an Arizona commit that signed with the Yankees as a 12th-rounder for $225,000. [...] Continue Reading »
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. [...] Continue Reading »
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.
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.
By Alexis Brudnicki and Jim Shonerd
As games finish throughout the day, check this post for final scores, wrap-ups and postgame quotes.
Sarasota (Fla.) High 14, Lee County High (Sanford, N.C.) 2
Sarasota chased Lee County starter Nick Durazo out of the first game of NHSI action on Thursday, and got to the Yellow Jackets bullpen for nine late runs in a 14-2 win for the Sailors.
Durazo went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on just two hits, walking five and striking out five. The lefthander kept his team in the game for five frames before Sarasota ran away with the game.
"They committed a couple of mistakes that kind of opened the door for us and allowed us to get into their bullpen," Sarasota head coach Clyde Metcalf said. "And their starter did a great job. He makes his pitches well and he kept us off-balance. Once we got into the bullpen we finally got things going. They made a couple crucial mistakes that opened the door for us and we took advantage of them."
The Sailors counterpart, Tyler Leonard, threw a complete game, finishing seven innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits with a walk, a hit batsman and six strikeouts.
Eight different Sarasota players drove runs in, and four of those players notched multiple RBIs, but the most impressive player at the plate for Metcalf was Jason Sierra. The utility player went 1-for-4 with a three-base hit, a walk, a run scored and a run driven in.
"The offensive highlight was probably Jason Sierra's triple," Metcalf said. "He kind of gave us a nice little cushion. We've struggled a little bit on occasion to finish games. It was nice to get four or five runs up."
Derrick Whitaker and Britt McRae bore the brunt of the damage from the Sailors in relief of Durazo. Out of the bullpen the two pitchers combined for 1 1/3 innings, nine runs (six earned), six hits and three walks.
Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) is a perennial power in Southern California with three CIF Southern Section titles—two since 2005—and two Trinity League titles in 2007 and 2010. The Monarchs began the 2012 season at No. 6 in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25, but fell to No. 10 and then No. 18 after a 7-3 start heading into the National High School Invitational. The competition didn't get any easier as Mater Dei was matched up with Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High, currently the No. 2 team in the Top 25. However, the Monarchs make a strong statement, erupting for 10 runs on 14 hits to beat the Gaels 10-3.
"To start the game we were a little bit nervous, but in the second inning we settled down and found our rhythm," Mater Dei head coach Burt Call said. "Our big at-bat was Brandon Perez, a freshman, coming up and putting us on the board. I think everyone just kind of followed suit after that. We had that huge explosion in the third. I'm very pleased with how they came out and competed against a very good Bishop Gorman team."
With his team down 2-0 in the second inning, Perez—a shortstop—drove in the first Mater Dei run with a single to left field. In the third inning, the Monarchs strung together seven hits to score seven runs before even making an out and made it 9-2 on a wild pitch. From there it was up to righthander Davis Tominaga to shut the door. He allowed three runs (two earned) on 10 hits and three walks while striking out only one in the complete game.
"He's been our No. 1 all season," Call said. "He's had some big wins for us. With him, it's control. He works in and out. He's able to bring it inside on a lefthander and also work away. And then his changeup is so effective. It keeps a lot of good hitters off balance. That's what makes him so unique, having that changeup in his arsenal that he can throw at anytime."
Tominaga ranged from 86-89 mph with his fastball and was able to neutralize Bishop Gorman's biggest threat in third baseman Joey Gallo. A draft prospect as a first baseman, Gallo has a big, strong frame that generates some of the best raw power in his class. But Gallo went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth.
"We weren't going to give him anything to hit, just keep the ball low and get my offspeed for strikes and establish that early," Tominaga said.
Mater Dei will play the winner of Thursday's first game, which is between Corpus Christi, Texas' Carroll High and Gulliver Prep from Pinecrest, Fla. Ty Moore, the Monarch's right fielder and No. 2 hitter, will start on the mound.
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." [...] Continue Reading »
The inaugural USA Baseball National High School Invitational is right around the corner and the Bracket Selection Show is now live, announcing the first-round matchups and ensuing schedule. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will be played March 28-31 at the National Training Complex.
The selection show, hosted by USA Baseball's Jake Fehling, has analysis from Baseball America's Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey as well as interviews with representatives from USA Baseball and the Town of Cary and participating players and coaches.
From March 28-31, the USA Baseball National High School Invitational will be held in Cary, N.C. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will feature some of the top teams and players in the country. They will compete in a 16-team, single-elimination championship tournament though all teams will be guaranteed to play four games. Of the 16 teams, 12 are eligible for state tournament play—California has section championships and New York City has a city championship—and there are a total of 36 state titles in the schools' histories. Four of the teams have a Baseball America National Championship as well.
Not only will the tournament present a high level of competition and have a strong effect on national rankings, but the level of talent is likely to bring in dozens of area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors.
“We're thrilled with the quality of teams that we were able to commit to this inaugural event," USA Baseball Director of Development Rick Riccobono said. "The talent and history of the participants is truly consistent with the mission of the program: To bring together our nation’s most accomplished high school baseball teams in one championship tournament.”
Listed in alphabetical order below is the tournament field with a short capsule on each team as well as a chart with the top 25 2012 and 2013 prospects that will be at the event. [...] Continue Reading »
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