Milton Edges Hamilton In Intense NHSI Affair

CARY, N.C.—Dylan Cease started for Milton (Ga.) High in its National High School Invitational opener at Field 2 at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex.

Alec Cease, his twin brother, finished off Hamilton (Ariz.).

Dylan Cease

Dylan Cease (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)

Dylan, a junior righthander, showed impressive stuff in a 4 2/3-inning stint, then scored the game-winning run on his brother’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth as the Eagles held off the Huskies 4-3.

“I’m sure Dylan is real happy that Alec got to get in there and contribute,” Milton coach Joey Ray said. “They got Dylan’s pitch count up and he had to come out a little early, but I thought he had good stuff and did a nice job on the mound.”

Cease the pitcher, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder who has yet to make a college commitment, touched 95 mph and sat in the low 90s to go with an inconsistent but effective hard mid-70s breaking ball. He also had three hits to lead the Milton offense.

“I thought our guys had good at-bats against him,” Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. “I didn’t realize he was throwing that hard, but we were able to scratch out a couple of runs against him.”

Cease gave up four hits and four walks as well as two unearned runs and left trailing 2-1. Righty Kent Hasler threw a complete game using 93 pitches for Hamilton and benefited from fine defense behind him, but Hamilton ran out of breaks in the sixth inning.

In the top half, the Huskies took a 3-2 lead on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Skyler Palermo, then re-loaded the bases with one out for senior first baseman Cody Bellinger. The son of ex-big leaguer Clay Bellinger and an Oregon signee, Bellinger grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, with the play at first very close and very questionable.

Milton took advantage in the bottom of the sixth. Jack Thompson skied one to center field to lead off the inning that fell in, and he alertly hustled to second for a leadoff double. Dylan Cease followed with a single, and an errant pickoff throw to first tied the game. Cease went to second on the throw, moved to third on a flyout to center field and scored when his brother Alec grounded a double down the third-base line.

Righthander Will Jackson, a senior committed to Georgia College & State, walked the Hamilton leadoff man but got two strikeouts and a foulout to record the save. Righty Steve Barranca, a College of Charleston signee, got the win with a scoreless inning of relief.

Milton, who improved to 9-3 with the win, will play the winner of the game between Jenks (Okla.) High and The Woodlands (Texas) High in the quarterfinal round on March 28.