CARY, N.C.—For Mountain Pointe High, there would have been a big difference between finishing the National High School Invitational 2-2 or 1-3. It had to win a back-and-forth tussle with Asheville, N.C.'s T.C. Roberson High, but the Pride will have happy trip back to Arizona after prevailing 10-9 in 10 innings Friday morning, ensuring a .500 showing for the week.
"Being 2-2 is a lot better feeling than going home 1-3," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. "Coming into this tournament, we looked at it like a big benchmark for us. Play playoff baseball in midseason and see where we were at, what we needed to work on. To play in this facility and against these teams and to come out 2-2 is a good feeling, and to compete the way we did."
Both teams competed to the end in what was the NHSI finale for both. Roberson jumped out to a 4-1 lead through three innings, but the Pride answered with a six-spot in the top of the fourth. Taking advantage of a bobbled potential doubleplay ball, Mountain Pointe scored all six of its runs with two outs, all of them unearned. Arizona recruit Ernie De La Trinidad struck the biggest blow, a bases-clearing triple into the right-center field gap, and Cole Tucker followed up with an RBI single up the middle. The Pride sent 10 men to the plate in the inning in all.
De La Trinidad and Tucker, the Pride's top prospect and a fellow Arizona commit, were in the middle of everything all game long. Batting one-two in the order, they combined to go 6-for-11, scored five runs and had a hand in four of the five innings that produced Mountain Pointe's runs.
"A lot of times, you go as your big guns go," Buck said. "For them to come out swinging it and stay hot, it just kinda lets everybody know, hey, we can do this. It just breeds confidence to the other kids, and they're just so much fun to watch play. They're always smiling. They're always hustling. They're always having a good time, and that just becomes contagious."
Roberson came into the game with an 0-3 mark for the week and played with no shortage of desperation of its own. The Rams answered Mountain Pointe's six-run top of the fourth with three in the bottom half, knotting the game at 7-7, and the teams traded single runs from there.
Although Roberson star Braxton Davidson drew two walks among his six plate appearances, on the whole, Mountain Pointe didn't shy away from pitching to him. Davidson finished game officially 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He did deliver one of the tilt's key blows. With his team down 9-8, he led off the bottom of the seventh with a double smoked into the right-center field gap. He eventually came in to score the run that forced extras.
After no runs were scored in the eighth or ninth, Mountain Pointe finally broke the deadlock with a run in the top of the 10th. De La Trinidad singled with one out, stole second, then scored the winning run when Roberson's left fielder dropped a fly ball with two outs. The Rams loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th, but Pride reliever Ryan Sheehan struck out the Rams' Adam Earley on a 3-2 pitch, with Davidson left in the on deck circle.