If you hit, you play.
It’s the lesson that Ty Moore was taught by his father.
The Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) outfielder certainly took the lesson to heart, and he demonstrated his hitting prowess in his team’s second game at the National High School Invitational launching a three-run shot over the right-field fence.
Moore also showed what he could do on the hill in the same game, throwing four shutout innings and striking out four Carroll High (Corpus Christi, Texas) batters in a matchup that ended early because of the mercy rule. The UCLA commit is capable both on the mound and at the plate, but Mater Dei head coach Burt Call believes the latter is what makes him stand out.
“He’s probably one of the purest hitters I’ve seen,” Mater Dei head coach Burt Call said. “He can just flat out hit. And that’s going to carry him a long way. And just his competitiveness helps him on the mound, being able to get us some outs and come through in clutch situations. He’s a pretty special player and I’ve been fortunate to coach him for the last four years, so it makes my life a little easier.
“He’s one of the best baseball players to come through Mater Dei.”
The 18-year-old has a unique setup, using a slight twirl of the bat as a timing mechanism to load before starting his swing. Though it is a little off-putting at first glance, it hasn’t deterred any interest in Moore.
“He’s one of those guys who has an unorthodox approach but finds a way to square up a baseball,” a scouting director at the event said. “It’s unconventional and it’s probably not what most guys look for, but at the end of the day the results in what he provides and the way he controls his at-bats, he’s very productive.
“The more he keeps hitting and performing, it makes it a little bit easier to fall in love with the swing. At some point you’ve just got to look at the results of what he’s done against the competition he’s been doing it against. There’s always going to be some hesitation but the more you see him perform, it’s hard to turn away.”
Naturally righthanded in every other facet of the game, Moore credits his father Roger for teaching him how to hit, but his dad says Ty came into his swing all on his own. When the young hitter was just four years old, he attended one of his brother’s practices, where Roger was coaching, and decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Ty just picked up the ball, put it on the tee and grabbed the bat lefthanded,” the elder Moore said. “He grabbed it perfectly as a lefthander would and just swung, and he hit the ball right out to the fence. From that day forward, I knew he’d be a pretty good hitter. He sat there for about an hour that day, going over and over as a lefthanded hitter, and he never changed.”
Roger gives Ty the credit for his distinctive approach at the plate and it wasn’t something that he ever made an attempt at altering, even as his coach.
“His swing is a little unorthodox because he’s got the bat swirl,” Roger said. “But that’s another thing that I never changed with him because it’s a timing mechanism. He always seemed to get his hands back and he still gets his hands through the zone. That’s something (where) he’s going to have to make the adjustments (with faster pitching). But early on he had a pretty good swing and he always made really good contact, so from an early age I kind of knew he’d be a pretty good hitter.”
Through the entire tournament in Cary, Moore and the rest of his Mater Dei teammates dominated the diamond. They played their first two games against the two top-ranked teams in Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas, Nevada) and Carroll, reaching double digits in runs in both matchups.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Moore said of beating the top two teams. “We got the word that we were playing Bishop Gorman right off the bat. That’s what we want. Coach Call schedules a really tough preseason and a really tough beginning of the season for us to get ready for games like these.
“California’s probably the biggest baseball spot in the country and we go out every night or every weekend and we face guys with big league or D-I arms. So we’re very used to it, where other teams in other states don’t have the type of competition that California has.”
Facing Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) in the championship game of the NHSI, Mater Dei was matched up with another west coast team in the all-California final. The Monarchs took down the Wolverines 3-2 in extra innings, putting on a show in their 4-0 run at the tournament. Moore got the win in the final, throwing four shutout innings to finish it out and scored the winning run.
“I think it’s just the stage and them coming out here and traveling,” Call said of his teams’ outstanding performance. “I think they wanted to show really well and let other teams know that we are a good team. I think our team chemistry is great and our defense is great’¦and we’ve got good pitching too.”
Though the caliber of competition in Cary was something Mater Dei’s coach discussed with his players, he knew coming in that they would be able to hold their own.
“A couple days before the tournament we talked to them and said, ‘Hey, you guys have a great opportunity here to really compete against the best high school teams,” the Monarchs coach said. “We’re prepared. We’re just going to go out, compete, and leave our heart on the field and see what happens. And I think they’ve done that.”
If you hit, you play.