CARY, N.C.—In spite of getting just two hits in the game, Lexington (S.C.) High won the opener of USA Baseball’s 2013 National High School Invitational, defeating Florida Christian of Miami, 4-0.
Lexington’s two hits were singles by junior outfielder Ryan Brown and senior catcher Nick Ciuffo. But the Wildcats drew four walks and showed an aggressive running game with three stolen bases.
“The glue to us all year is to be aggressive on the bases and try to manufacture runs,” Lexington head coach Brian Hucks said. “I think we’ve got 30 or so stolen bases on the year and we’ve got to put ourself in good offensive situations and try to take advantage in our overall team speed, and I felt like today that was the difference in the game.”
Lexington also got a key start out of lefthander Josh Reagan, a senior committed to South Carolina. Reagan threw a complete-game four-hitter with one walk and five strikeouts.
“That’s Josh being Josh,” Hucks said. “He doesn’t have any off-the-charts stuff. He’s probably 79-82 (mph) with his fastball today, but he has command of all three of his pitches and he’s dropping down a little bit right now, which gives him a chance to be a little more effective against lefthanders.”
With the win, Lexington will now play the winner of the game between Mater Dei High from Santa Ana, Calif., and Tullahoma (Tenn.) High.
“Coming to a big stage like this, it’s always good to get the first win under your belt,” Ciuffo said. “We’ve got some young kids who have never really been up on varsity and I told them that we deserve to be here. If we didn’t deserve to be here, we wouldn’t. So, I think it was good to come out here and really dominate this game. It was 4-0, but at no point in the game did we ever think they were going to come back.”
The NHSI is a single-elimination tournament, so Florida Christian won’t be able to win the title, though the Patriots will continue to play through the consolation round.
“Reagan did a great job. He kept us off balance all day and I felt like he got us away from our offensive approach early,” Florida Christian head coach Chris Brigman said. “Credit goes to them. Our guys got four hits, we just couldn’t capitalize. We’re just going to stay positive. We’ve got three more games, so we’ll see what happens.”
One player stood out in the first game for the Patriots—junior shortstop Milton Ramos, who showed smooth defensive actions, a compact, line-drive swing and above-average speed.
“Milton Ramos brings a lot to the table,” Brigman said. “He’s got a lot of tools and he’s got a great future ahead of him.”