- Bishop Verot vs. Aquinas
- Blessed Trinity vs. Bishop Gorman
Bracket Four of the 2023 National High School Invitational features three returning schools in Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, Nev.), Bishop Verot High School (Fort Myers, Fla.), and Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, Ga.), along with first-time participant Aquinas High School (San Bernardino, Calif.).
All four of these schools have experienced rosters that showcase some of the nation’s top prospects, and with three of them having prior experience at the NHSI, this bracket is a tough one to advance from into the semifinals.
Aquinas will make its NHSI debut this month and will bring a talented roster to Cary. Last year, the Falcons put together an impressive 28-3 record, including an 11-1 ledger in league play, and reached the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Championship. This year they were tabbed the No. 31 team on MaxPreps’ Preseason Top 25 List.
Aquinas’ top player on its roster is senior shortstop Eric Bitonti, rated the No. 42 prospect in this year’s draft class by Baseball America. Standing at 6’5” and 215 pounds, the Oregon commit has plus raw power and is anticipated to do some damage at the plate during the NHSI. Bitonti is already familiar with the National Training Complex as he is a two-time National Team Development Program participant and took part in last year’s Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League and 18U National Training Camp. So, returning to the NTC for the NHSI could warmly welcome the West Coast native.
In addition to Bitonti, 10 other players on its roster have committed to play Division I baseball, including two-way player Owen Egan, who will attend UCLA in the fall. Like Bitonti, Egan has USA Baseball ties as he is a two-time alum, having played on the 2016 and 2017 12U National Teams that earned a silver medal at the COPABE Pan Am “A” Championship and won gold at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, respectively. Additionally, he is a three-time NTDP participant as he was at the 14U NTDP in 2018 and 2019 and the 16U/17U NTDP in 2021.
Bishop Gorman will be returning to Cary for the first time since it took part in the inaugural edition of the NHSI in 2012. One of the more iconic high school programs from the western part of the country, the Gaels finished 10th on _Baseball America_’s final 2022 high school team rankings after finishing runner-up at last year’s Nevada 5A State Championship with a 35-9 overall record.
The Gaels began the season ranked 26th on MaxPreps’ Preseason Top 25 List and returned five players who earned All-Southern Nevada Team honors. Among that core group of returners are infielders Maddox Riske and Easton Shelton. Riske, a sophomore committed to play at Southern California, led last year’s offense as he slashed .417/.466/.625 at the plate. Likewise, Shelton is the team’s leading power threat after hitting 12 home runs last season.
The 2023 edition of the NHSI will be Bishop Verot’s third overall appearance at the event, including its second straight after participating last year. Its debut was in 2014, when it closed out the event with three wins by outscoring its opponents 23-4.
Last year, the Vikings compiled a 16-11 record, including an appearance in the first round of the Florida 3A State Championships. This season will be intriguing for Bishop Verot as several underclassmen made a big impact on last year’s squad, and they will be expected to lead the team in 2023.
Key returners from last year’s squad include junior shortstop Maddix Simpson and senior right-hander Aidan Knaak. Simpson led the team offensively last year with a .460 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, and .597 slugging percentage, while Knaak, a Clemson commit, posted a 1.77 ERA in a team-high 51.1 innings in the 2022 campaign.
Blessed Trinity returns to the NHSI this year after making its debut in 2019 when it made a run to the semifinals with wins over Marist High School (Chicago, Ill.) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.).
The Titans put together a 22-11 overall record in 2022, highlighted by a 13-2 ledger in region play, and reached the second round of the 5A Georgia State Championship.
Pitching will be Blessed Trinity’s key to making a run at this year’s event as it returns top prospects Porter Buursema and Jake Lankie from last year’s team. Buursema, a right-hander committed to Georgia Southern, will be one of the harder throwers in this event, as he can touch 95 mph. Lankie, a Georgia commit, has a solid three-pitch mix and can throw any pitch at any time to keep hitters off balance in the box.
The 10th annual National High School Invitational is set to begin on Wednesday, March 29, at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, with the championship game slated for April 1 on Coleman Field. The event is a single-elimination championship tournament, with each participating team guaranteed to play four games.
All games of the 2023 NHSI will be streamed on USABaseball.TV.
For more information on the NHSI, visit USABaseball.com or follow @USABEvents on Twitter and Instagram and @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.