CARY, N.C.—Jack Flaherty struck out 13 in a three-hit shutout, leading Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) to a 3-0 win against Eustis (Fla.) High in the opening round of the National High School Invitational.
The junior righthander Flaherty, a North Carolina recruit and 2014 draft prospect, settled into a groove quickly, striking out two in the first inning, and rarely relented. Few Eustis hitters had comfortable swings against Flaherty, as he struck out eight straight hitters from the third to the fifth innings and never allowed a runner to even reach second base.
“He got some swings and misses early on his slider,” Harvard-Westlake coach Matt LaCour said. “That gave him a lot of confidence that we were going to be able to use that pitch. Once we got them sitting on that pitch, we snuck fastballs by them early in the count. It seemed like we confused them offensively a little bit.”
Flaherty limited Eustis the three hits, all singles. Eustis catcher Chris Okey, a Clemson recruit and the team’s top prospect, was one of the few Eustis hitters to give Flaherty problems. Okey hit a hard single up the middle in the first and worked a full count—one of just two three-ball counts Flaherty faced all day—in the fourth, but Flaherty responded by freezing Okey with a slider on the outside corner. Flaherty didn’t hand out any walks and needed just 89 pitches to go the distance.
Eustis starter Alex Hagner gave up 11 hits but kept his team in the game. Harvard-Westlake manufactured a run in the second, when Brian Ginsberg led off with a single and eventually scored on Michael Vokulich’s RBI groundout. Hagner kept the score 1-0 until the sixth, when the Wolverines mounted a two-out rally that produced a pair of runs to put the game away.
The one run was already enough for Flaherty though. Of the handful of balls Eustis put in play, just two were hit out of the infield, and Flaherty punctuated his afternoon with two final strikeouts in the seventh.
“The story of the game is Jack Flaherty,” Eustis coach David Lee said. “He just goes out and for seven innings shuts us down, keeps us off balance, blows it by us. Anything he wanted to do today, he was able to do.”