CARY, N.C.—Lexington (S.C.) High has played in close games the past couple days at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational. After losing 1-0 to Mater Dei in the second round of games, the Wildcats came back with a 2-1 win against Cathedral Catholic from San Diego in consolation play.
“I think it speaks volumes to the character of our club to lose a tough one to Mater Dei yesterday like we did, and in a single-elimination tournament, now you’re kind of out of the running,” Lexington head coach Brian Hucks said. “I told them, good teams show up every day, and good teams don’t lose two in a row. And then we found out we had to match up with Cathedral Catholic and we’re seeing Brady Aiken, an upper-80s lefty, and a UCLA commit. So, we knew what we were up against today and our kids just battled the whole game.”
Cathedral Catholic had scoring opportunities late in the game. The Dons had a runner on first base with one out in the bottom of the sixth when Cathedral Catholic pitcher Brady Aiken lined a ball into right field. It wound up landing for a base hit, but Lexington right fielder Brandon Camp made an excellent deke, getting the runner to freeze long enough to force him out at second, and kill a potential rally.
“That was a game-changing play,” Hucks said. “That’s part of our fundamentals that we do every day. We have a drill where we work on the deke play, and it doesn’t always work, but that was the one time where it was a game-changer.”
Despite the loss, Aiken, a lefthander, threw a gem for the Dons. The junior, who is verbally committed to UCLA, threw a complete game while giving up the two runs (none earned) on six hits. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 14. Aiken showed an effortless delivery and a fastball that sat in the mid-to-high 80s, along with a nasty low-70s curveball and an effective changeup.
“He definitely deserved better,” Cathedral Catholic head coach Gary Remiker said. “I think all our guys on our team are frustrated and feel bad that they weren’t able to give more support both defensively and offensively. He pitched his rear end off out there, and I’m proud of his effort. I just wish it would have came out a little different for him.”
Even after a tough loss yesterday to Venice (Fla.) High, and the way Aiken pitched today, Remiker isn’t second-guessing his pitching decisions on the weekend.
“It’s a good way to go crazy,” Remiker said. “We know what we’ve got, pitching-wise, and I had all the confidence in the world in Mike Martin pitching yesterday. Unfortunately, he got beaned in the kneecap in the bottom of the first inning. So, sending Mike out there in the second was probably a bad coaching decision on my part. Mike’s a bulldog, so he wanted the ball, and I watched him warm up and he still looked OK to me. And then we went with Alex Schick yesterday too, and he didn’t give up any runs in his basically six innings of relief.
“We knew what Brady was going to give us, but we also had all the confidence in the world in how we had the pitching lined up. We’ve just got to get more than three hits in two games.”
Lexington got solid outings from their pitchers today, as well. Senior righthander Matt Godleski pitched 5 2/3 innings with one run (unearned) on one hit with no walks and eight strikeouts before giving the ball to senior submarine righthander, Elliot Lance.
“Matt Godleski comes in and just kept them off balance all day,” Hucks said. “He threw a changeup for a strike, mixed in a breaking ball, spotted his fastball well, and just kept the ball down. He just kept them off balance the entire day.
“And then Elliot Lance comes in at the end and done what’s Elliot’s done all year. He hasn’t given up a run this year, so I’m real proud of both of those guys. We pride ourselves on throwing strikes and playing defense. If we can do that, we can be in every baseball game.”