CARY, N.C.—Clovis High’s Cody Murray has worn many hats during this year’s National High School Invitational. Or rather, many gloves.
Over the first two days, he’s been a first baseman, a right fielder, and even a catcher. And on Thursday, under the bright lights of Field 3 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, he reached even deeper into his bag of tricks and spun 6 2/3 brilliant innings that helped send his team to a 6-4 semifinal win over Coral Springs Christian.
“He plays right or, or left field if we need him in the outfield. He plays first base. Today in our first game, when McCarthy Tatum pitches, he catches. Alan Crowley sometimes pitches, so Cody also catches for us. And today he pitched,” Clovis head coach James Patrick said. “It’s hard to find guys like that, that are baseball players.”
The victory sets up an East Coast-West Coast showdown in Friday’s championship, which will pit Clovis against The First Academy, which makes its home in Orlando, Fla, at 10 a.m. on the NTC’s stadium.
“We came out here, honestly not knowing what to expect. We knew one thing: That our kids liked playing baseball,” Patrick said. “They like playing together—it’s a team. Other than that, you know how baseball is. If we faced some guy in the first round like (Coral Springs pitcher) Touki (Toussaint), for instance, maybe our fate is different. That’s an equalizer in baseball.”
Primarily, Murray’s M.O. was sharp command of his low-80s fastball to all parts of the plate, and a heavy dose of a sharp biting curveball that seemed to start behind the head of a righthanded hitter before slipping into the strike zone next to his belt buckle. He also mixed in a changeup that featured decent fade.
While his arsenal was anything but overpowering, it kept the Coral Springs hitters off-balance enough to limit them to just two hits over the first five innings while his team mounted a lead that looked more and more insurmountable with every pitch.
“I was just throwing it in there and hoping my defense and my team had my back,” Murray demurred afterward. “That’s exactly what I did and I can’t thank them enough. They had my back the whole game.”
Clovis dented the plate first in the second, when leadoff man McCarthy shot Muhammad’s offering through the right side. That plated Kellen Araki, who had reached on an error. Coral Springs prevented further damage when Joey DePalo threw a laser home to Benito Santiago in plenty of time to cut off the potential second run.
They added a second run in the third when Coral Springs starter Jeremiah Muhammad’s wild pitch allowed Tevin Mitchell to trot home easily. Later, a perfectly executed delayed double steal brought home Jacob Gatewood — Clovis’ star shortstop who had singled earlier in the inning.
They tacked on three more in the fifth inning, eliminating any doubt about the final outcome.