2016 NHSI: Harbin Leads Allatoona To Victory

[shareprints gallery_id=”164866″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider_desc” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”false” sharing=”true”]CARY, N.C.—The first thing Allatoona (Ga.) High righthander Grayson Harbin said when his coach approached the mound Wednesday afternoon was the word, “No.”

There were two outs in the seventh inning of the Buccaneers’ National High School Invitational game against Houston (Tenn.) High, and Harbin had just walked a man. But his team was up, 5-0, and he was one out away from sealing a shutout. He wanted to finish what he started.

Harbin protested but had no luck.

“You’ve reached your max,” Allatoona assistant coach Brad Strickland told Harbin. He had thrown 111 pitches. His day was done.

Though righthander Skylar McPhee got the final out—a strikeout on a sharp breaking ball—the Buccaneers’ 5-0 win undoubtedly belonged to Harbin. After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, the 2016 righthander settled down and kept Houston at bay, allowing five hits, scattering four walks and striking out eight in his 6 2/3 frames. Allatoona advanced to Thursday’s quaterfinals with the victory.

Harbin’s bread and butter Wednesday was a slow 12-to-6 curveball that he was able to locate for strikes early in the count or bury in the dirt in strikeout situations. He added a changeup that he used against both lefties and righties, though the pitch was particularly effective away from lefthanded hitters.

“After the first inning, got in a little trouble there, but after that got my groove, got my rhythm going and settled in for the most part,” Harbin said. “I was locating my curveball, getting them off balance and then hitting them with the fastball.”

As for the Allatoona offense, the Buccaneers needed just one big inning to put Houston away. They struck for five runs against lefthander Cooper Bullough in the fourth inning, starting with an RBI double off the left-field wall from 2017 South Carolina commit Kyle Jacobsen.

The biggest hit in the inning, however, was a three-run double from nine-hole hitter Juanyea Tarver with two outs that broke the game wide open.

“We executed early there,” Strickland said. “And Juanyea came through with a big two-out hit, and he’s been doing that all year. He’s on fire right now. He’s done a great job.”

From there, Harbin cruised—nearly completing a shutout. Though reluctant to give up the ball, Harbin was certainly pleased to get the tournament-opening win.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I’ve never been to a tournament like this. It’s different from any other tournament. You feel like you’re prestigious out here, and a lot of scouts watching and everything else. It’s fun.”

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