CARY, N.C.—With a compressed schedule of games to try to beat rain forecast for Friday, pitching depth has become even more important than usual at the 2014 National High School Invitational.
Have a lot of solid pitchers and you're in much better shape to survive and advance. Of course, there is another way. Have a lineup that's solid from one to nine and you'll do a pretty good job of running through any opponent's bullpen.
That approach is working for Aurora, Colo.'s Regis Jesuit. The Raiders simply wore down then wore out Phoenix's Mountain Pointe Pride in a quarterfinal matchup. After falling behind early, Regis Jesuit put together quality at-bat after quality at-bat, scoring four runs in the fifth on its way to a 8-4 win. With the win, Regis Jesuit advanced to the semifinal to face Orlando, Fla.'s The First Academy Royals.
"Our order one through nine does damage so our starters know eventually we will score runs," Raiders coach Matt Darr said. "I don't feel like I have to panic early on with our starters because I'm confident we'll score runs."
Junior righthander Brent Schwarz pitched five solid innings thanks in part to a diving breaking ball, striking out four to pick up the win. While Schwarz kept the Raiders from having to go to their bullpen early, the Raiders got at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first six innings. A large part of Regis Jesuit's rallies came from patience. They drew eight walks.
Mountain Pointe took the early lead as shortstop Cole Tucker aggressively turned a single to right field into a double because he never slowed down rounding first. He then scored on a Christian Bitar single. Tommy Martinez was similarly aggressive in the second, as he stretched his liner down the line into a double, setting himself up to score on Ernie de la Trinidad's single.
But Pride starting pitcher Tristan Chavez was lifted in the fourth, and from there, the game quickly turned. Over the next two innings, Mountain Pointe used three pitchers, but none of them were able to consistently throw strikes. Regis Jesuit took the lead in the fourth, then blew the game open in the fifth. Thanks in part to three walks and a big two-RBI double by Quin Cotton, the Raiders opened up a five-run lead.
Zach Woodruff pitched two solid innings of relief to close out the win. With the victory, Regis Jesuit was set up well for the semifinals, as it had not yet used ace Reagan Todd.