CARY, N.C. – Something had to give.
After suffering a hard-fought defeat in 14 innings on Thursday night, Milton (Ga.) High came back to the National High School Invitational on Friday ready for more.
That’s exactly what they got, as a back-and-forth affair between the Eagles and the Bingham (Utah) Miners had to be called at the end of the 11th inning with the score knotted at two runs apiece.
Milton had already battled through 25 innings in less than 24 hours with another day of the tournament left to play and enough was enough. Though the result was disappointing for both teams, it was an understandable conclusion.
“It’s for the good of the tournament and it’s for the good of both teams,” Bingham coach Joel Sato said. “I knew what their situation was and that’s what my first response was. If it’s for the good of the tournament and it’s for the good of both teams, I’m fine with whatever decisions [are made]. I’m good with it.”
Both teams looked evenly matched throughout. Bingham went ahead with a run in the top of the third and Milton evened the score in the bottom half. The Miners scored another in the fifth and the Eagles answered back immediately.
“Both teams just competed like crazy,” Sato said. “Both of us had chances to win at various times but that’s the way it is. We’re good. Everybody here has treated us so well that to have that happen, for the good of the tournament, that’s what’s important.”
Pitching was impressive on both sides and only one earned run was allowed in the game. Alex Schnell got the nod for Milton and went 6 2/3 innings allowing two unearned runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Eagles Steven Barranca and Matt Geiger combined for 4 1/3 innings of relief, giving up just one hit, walking one and striking out three.
Austin Florez started the game for Bingham and threw 4 1/3 innings giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. Lance Harrison impressed from the bullpen – actually coming in from second base – throwing 6 2/3 shutout frames allowing just three hits, walking one and fanning two.
“Austin has been a closer for us and he’s thrown real well and this was his first start,” Sato said. “So it was good for us to be able to extend him out. And then Lance is another kid coming out of basketball [season] and he’s only made two appearances for us. He could be one of our starters down the road…
“I couldn’t be prouder of those two boys. They competed real well and they got put in some tough situations and they battled their way out of. Our guys behind them made some good plays too, so I was proud of them.”
Milton’s Erik Peterson highlighted the offense, going 4-for-4 with both of his team’s RBIs. Eagles top prospect Dalton Ewing went 0-for-4 with a walk and Bingham’s best, Brennon Lund, was 2-for-2 while getting hit by a pitch on three separate occasions.