CARY, N.C.—No one's figured out how to beat Mater Dei High at the National High School Invitational yet.
The tournament's defending champions out of Santa Ana, Calif., advanced to the semifinals after holding off Lexington (S.C.) High in a tight 1-0 affair Thursday afternoon. The Monarchs scored a run in the first and senior lefthander Aaron Cross made it stand up, pitching a six-hit shutout.
"It was a very good game," Mater Dei coach Burt Call said. "Both teams played extremely well and it could've gone either way."
Along with Cross, third baseman Ryan McMahon was the other star of the afternoon for Mater Dei. McMahon's RBI double in the first produced the only run of the game, and he saved the win with his defense in the seventh. Lexington put runners on the corners with one out against Cross when No. 9 hitter Cody Smith lined a ball to the third baseman's right. McMahon made a diving catch on the fly then tagged the bag to double off the runner and end the game.
"He's a pretty special player," Call said of McMahon. "He's very athletic. He makes those plays every day, so it's second nature to Ryan. The way he goes out and performs, he's always calm and has the ability to make those plays."
Cross may have needed McMahon's help at the end, but the lefty was otherwise in control for most of the day. The Arizona recruit didn't overpower Lexington's hitters, but he flummoxed the Wildcats with his changeup and was able to mix in his fastball and curveball enough as well to keep them off balance.
Cross had just four strikeouts, but he limited the Wildcats to six hits, all of them singles, and walked only one en route to the shutout.