2016 NHSI: Allatoona Finishes 3-1

CARY, N.C.—Ranked No. 23 in the Baseball America/BCA High School Top 25, every win counts to Allatoona (Acworth, Ga.), which played like it in its National High School Invitational finale.

Fresh off a 3-1 loss to Huntington Beach (Calif.) that cost the Buccaneers a spot in Saturday’s championship game, Allatoona took out some frustration with a crisp, clean domination of Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, Va.). The Bucs cruised to an 11-3 victory to finish 3-1 in this year’s NHSI, a performance that should move them up the national rankings.

“You always want to play well, and we did today,” said interim head coach Brad Strickland, who piloted the team this week with head coach Keith Hansen home taking care of a newborn child. “This is a great tournament, great competition, and playing well here will help us when we get back home to district play.”

Junior lefthander Brian DeCarlo pitched Monday for the Bucs back home, so while coach Strickland considers him either the team’s No. 1 or No. 2 starter, Saturday was his NHSI debut. The uncommitted junior doesn’t throw hard—low 80s with his fastball, according to Strickland—but he throws a curveball, cutter and changeup, and all four pitches pounded the strike zone against LCA. DeCarlo completed four innings before hitting his pitch count, giving up five hits and one run while striking out two. Three pitchers finished up for Allatoona.

Meanwhile, the Bucs played errorless defense, and their offense got to work. South Carolina commit Kyle Jacobsen completed a strong NHSI with a pair of hits, including a back-breaking, three-run triple in the fourth inning that broke open what had been a 4-1 game. He scored on Skylar McPhee’s single to make it 8-1 Allatoona, and when DeCarlo retired the side in scoreless fashion in the bottom of the fourth, both teams began substituting liberally.

Shortstop Payton Eeles, whose brother Brady pitched the seventh inning for the Bucs, had three hits, scored a run, had an RBI and played errorless ball at short. Tennessee signee Pete Derkay walked, had a single and scored two runs, while catcher Xavier Cruz had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored twice for Allatoona.

Sophomore catcher Wesley Clarke starred for LCA with a pair of RBI singles, while senior shortstop Garrett Price, a Liberty commit, scored twice, had two hits and reached in all three trips for the Bulldogs, who are coached by ex-big league pitcher Randy Tomlin. LCA went 1-3 in a competitive NHSI showing, losing in extra innings in its opener to Florence (Ala.), losing by one run to Mater Dei and beating North Broward Prep in a Friday thriller that lasted 12 innings.

“Our guys are thrilled to have played here, with the caliber of opposition we saw here,” Tomlin said. “We came down and competed and played three really tough games. The 12 innings we played yesterday was a hard game.”

When asked if his team simply ran out of gas after the grueling schedule and long Friday game, Tomlin said, “It kind of seemed that way. We pitched a lot of guys yesterday, and all three games we played were stressful. We asked a lot out of the guys. But it’s going to be good for us. We pitched and hit well enough in other games, but today we made too many mistakes, and we saw what happened.”

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone