CARY, N.C.--It took a little while to get the bats going, but when Mountain Pointe High did it was smooth sailing in a 4-0 win over Bishop Verot in both teams' opening game of the National High School Invitational, held at USA Baseball's National Training Complex.
"To come out in this environment and for us to be from Arizona, where it's a three-hour time difference and about 50 degrees difference, you just don't know how your boys are going to come out," Mountain Pointe head coach Brandon Buck said. "To get the first one underneath you against a great opponent like that, it feels good."
After his team was held hitless by Verot hurler Jeff Passanito over the first three frames, shortstop Cole Tucker, the game's top draft prospect and a University of Arizona commit, got Mountain Pointe's first hit when he lined an 80 mph fastball through the right side. He then stole second before Passanito plunked Taylor Martin and walked Christian Bitar to pack the sacks.
Cooper Davis then drove in the game's first run when Passanito lost control of a curveball--understandable in the bitter, wind-accentuated cold--and hit him in the back. Jake Alexander added two more runs with a bloop single into shallow right field.
Only a gorgeous play from shortstop Bobby Brennan, who ranged far to his left, spun and threw to retire Logan Adam, saved Verot from more damage.
Tucker singled again in his next trip--almost a mirror image of his first hit--swiped second and was driven home on Martin's opposite-field double.
"He's such a great baseball player," Buck said, referring to Tucker. "He has such a great mind and such great instincts. Each team, they're going to have one to two guys to look at. When he gets going, it just lets you know (that he's one of those guys)."
Armed with that lead--not to mention two key double plays from his defense--Mountain Pointe righthander Jorge Carrazco went to work, but only after wriggling out of some early trouble of his own.
Verot's Zack Chappell reached to open the second when Tucker let a grounder go under his glove and between his legs. Carrazco brushed off that miscue and worked out of trouble by getting three groundballs--including a sac bunt that pushed Chappell to second--to keep the game scoreless.
Carrazco, who punched out two over his six shutout frames, finished his afternoon by extricating himself from a huge jam. With runners at first and second and nobody out, he got the next three hitters on a fly to left, a swinging strikeout and a fly to shallow right-center. The effort earned him hugs from his waiting teammates as soon as he crossed the third-base line on his way toward the dugout.
Peyton Holm closed out the game in the bottom of the seventh.