CARY, N.C.—Milton (Ga.) High earned its second win of the National High School Invitational, taking a back-and-forth victory against T.C. Roberson (Asheville, N.C.) by a 7-4 score Saturday afternoon. Milton closes the tournament 2-1-1, while Roberson ends the week 2-2.
No team has put in longer hours than Milton this week. The Eagles lost a 14-inning marathon to The Woodlands (Texas) on Thursday, then played an 11-inning game against Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) on Friday which was called with the score 2-2 to save some strain on Milton’s players, who had played 25 innings in less than 24 hours.
“We really talked to (the players) about keeping an even keel,” Milton coach Joey Ray said. “We tried to keep it as loose as possible. There’s no question they were tired, but I was real proud of the way they came out from the get go and just decided that, hey, no matter what happens, whether we get down or we’re up early, lets just play our game.”
Showing they were none the worse for wear, the Eagles took a 2-0 lead early against Roberson, but the Rams battled back with three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to go up 4-2. Milton answered in the top of the sixth, when Jack Thompson led off with a double and, after a two-out walk drawn by Steven Reale, scored on a double-steal. Dalton Ewing then delivered Reale with a game-tying RBI double.
The Eagles found some more two-out magic for their go-ahead rally in the top of the seventh. With men on first and second with two gone, Alex Schnell hit a grounder that Roberson shortstop Grant Hiriak bobbled. Schell beat out Hiriak’s throw to first, while Erik Petersen raced all the way around from second to score. Alec Cease followed with a two-run double to provide some insurance, but the Eagles weren’t out of the woods yet.
Roberson loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning, when the Eagles summoned closer Will Jackson. The senior righthander had logged eight pressure-filled innings two days before in the game against the Woodlands, and once again he found himself on the mound with little margin for error.
“(It was) just all adrenaline,” Jackson said. “I wanted to stay ahead of the last hitter because the bases were loaded.”
The count ran full on Roberson’s Ryan Goode, but Jackson was able finish the job with a swinging strikeout, capping off a memorable week in Cary.
“Any time you win a ball game, it feels good for your kids and for your program,” Ray said. “But getting that one today after what we’ve been through the last couple days, there’s definitely a lot of pride and excitement for our kids. I’m proud of the boys and just excited to go back to Georgia knowing that we competed against the best in the country and held our own.”