Orange Lutheran Moves Into NHSI Semifinals

CARY, N.C.—Orange Lutheran had been in this position before, having advanced to the quarterfinals of the National High School Invitational, only to get no further.

In the inaugural NHSI, the Lancers were beaten in their second game by Sarasota (Fla.) High’s Evan Mendoza, now of N.C. State. In 2014, Orange Lutheran didn’t even get that far as it was shut down by Touki Toussaint of Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy, who punched out 12 in a 1-0, one-hit, six-inning gem.

So coach Eric Borba knows it’s an accomplishment to get as far as his team has now: the NHSI semifinals.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “We’ve been back here two times and haven’t been able to get this far, so it was a goal of ours. To get two (wins) under your belts . . . really excited. I think our guys feel really excited.”

Orange Lutheran moved to 2-0 in the 2017 NHSI with a 5-1 win over Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.) on Thursday behind six strong innings from lefthander Jason Farese.

The Lancers jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Trinity Christian sophomore righthander Dylan Simmons, a Florida State commit. Tristan Hanoian, a TCU recruit who had three hits in their opening win, led off with a double. After a walk, All-American Garrett Mitchell hit into a force play that put runners on the corners. Mitchell then stole second, and a run scored on the ensuing play when Trinity’s shortstop muffed a grounder. Beefy first baseman Zach Busalacchi then doubled to the gap in right center to score two runs and make it 3-0.

“We got a little bit of a scouting report on Simmons,” Borba said. “We knew he was a good arm . . . we talked about jumping on the fastball early and we did a great job.

“Trinity always has a lot of energy, so getting that crooked number in the first inning enabled us to take them out of it a little bit.”

That was all Farese needed. He allowed six hits and a run over six innings, striking out just one while admittedly not having his best velocity. Farese, who usually works 86-89 mph, sat 82-86 on Thursday but still had enough to stymie Trinity Christian.

“Just pounding the zone and let my defense work behind me,” Farese said. “I wasn’t trying to throw too hard for sure. I had a week and half off since my last start so I think that might have been part of it.”

For Trinity Christian, Austin Martin, a Vanderbilt commit, was 1-for-1 with a walk and a run scored, while Simmons hung in after that tough first inning, going 5.2 innings and allowing 10 hits.

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