CARY, N.C.—The expectations and excitement were notable for both teams that matched up in the final game of the first day of the National High School Invitational, but once the game got under way one team was clearly dominant.
Cathedral Catholic High of San Diego was potent on the mound and at the plate, scoring a 14-2 victory over the Grayson (Ga.) High on Wednesday.
"Our guys have been real excited about this event since we were first invited to come many, many months ago," Cathedral Catholic coach Gary Remiker said. "I'm sure . . . our players have had this date circled on their calendars, looking real forward to it.
"My only concern as a coach was making sure that I was able to prepare them the best that we could. You know you're going to face a quality opponent every day out here. So to see how they came out today early, how they responded; I'm just real proud of the guys."
Lefthander Stephen Gonsalves led the way both on the mound and at the plate for the Dons. He pitched four innings, allowing just five hits and two runs (one earned) with two walks and five strikeouts. At the dish, he went 2-for-4 with a triple, three runs scored and four RBIs.
"I've seen him do it his whole high school career," Remiker said. "He's undefeated so far in his high school career in three years pitching, so that's just what we're kind of used to seeing—him going out there and controlling the game and getting us victories."
Gonsalves said the team still has a lot of work to do, but he looked to be in midseason form.
"I'm still building up a little bit," the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder said. "My accuracy wasn't quite there today but I'm working on it . . . I had a little bit of difficulty getting on the inside of their hands today, I gave up a couple of hits early, and I was just missing off the plate a little bit."
Cathedral Catholic's bats certainly made up for any pitching hiccups. The Dons notched 15 hits and took advantage of five Grayson errors.
"It was a great feeling, getting out here, just being on this stage and being able to contribute to the team," Gonsalves said. "Everyone was there today; everyone was swinging well. We got 16 hits on the board and that's just a great feeling."
The feeling was not as happy on the other side of the field. Grayson knew it drew a tough opponent in Cathedral Catholic but hoped to string more together against Gonsalves.
"We knew that we were going to be facing a very good pitching staff for sure; that they were very deep on the mound, and starting off with the No. 1 team in the nation was definitely daunting," Grayson head coach Jed Hixson said. "We just didn't show up offensively. But with a pitcher like that, it's difficult."
Rams starter Chris Erwin went four innings and allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits with three walks and one strikeout. Taylor Allum led the offense, going 2-for-4 with both RBIs, and Cathedral Catholic didn't give Grayson top prospect Austin Meadows much to hit.
"This year, with the way he's swinging the bat, they're starting to stay away a lot more from him," Hixson said of Meadows. "Because he's swinging it very, very well right now."
The Rams are out of the championship running in the single-elimination tournament, but they still have three more games to bounce back from their disappointing showing in the first game.
"They're very excited about the opportunity," Hixson said. "That's why it's kind of disappointing to perform the way we did, with so much expectation and excitement."