Three California schools are shooting to give the state six titles in seven years of NHSI, as South Hills will take on Orange Lutheran in one semifinal. Meanwhile, Dana Hills takes on interloper Winder-Barrow (Ga.) in the other matchup. Here's how they got there, plus recaps of the rest of the day's action:
South Hills 5, Archbishop McCarthy 1
The first quarterfinal game of the National High School Invitational didn't disappoint Thursday, with a top-25 matchup resulting in a 5-1 victory for No. 17 South Hills (West Covina, Calif.) over No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches, Fla.).
It was a coming out party of sorts for South Hills righty Brandon Dieter. While Dieter-a junior two-way player committed to Stanford-was well-known coming into the NHSI, he elevated his national recognition after a four-hit, one-run performance against one of the best lineups in the country.
"(Dieter was) phenomenal from right out of the gate," said South Hills shortstop Jacob Amaya, who went 1-for-3 with a bases clearing double. "From pitch one he was on."
Dieter showcased his four-pitch mix from the first inning, and sat in the mid-80s throughout his seven innings of work (touching as high as 88) and getting his fastball up to 87 in the seventh inning. The Cardinal commit throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball and changeup and used all of those offerings to stymie McCarthy, including a stretch from the fourth inning through the seventh where he retired 11 straight batters.
Winder-Barrow 7, American Heritage 0
The Winder-Barrow High (Winder, Ga.) Bulldogs don't care who they play. They're coming for everyone.
A day after knocking off defending NHSI champ Huntington Beach (Calif.) High, the Bulldogs took on another storied baseball powerhouse Wednesday in American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) and shut it out, 7-0, to advance to the NHSI semifinals.
"We just want to be ourselves, that's all we keep saying," Winder-Barrow coach Brian Smith said. "Be who we are, do what we do. We're not trying to do anything different because of whoever we're playing, we just work to our strengths and that's what these guys are about."
Winder-Barrow's strength is pitching to weak contact and playing defense, and that's exactly what the Bulldogs did behind senior righthander Darrell Woodall, who threw 6.2 shutout innings before being forced to exit in the seventh due to his pitch count. Woodall also finished out Wednesday's win over Huntington Beach with two innings in relief of lefthander Daniel Buice.
Woodall held a talented Heritage lineup to just a pair of hits through the first six innings and came one batter shy of throwing the complete game, with first baseman Triston Casas singling in the top of the seventh to end his day after 105 pitches.
Dana Hills 6, Canterbury School 3
After a thriller in its first game on Wednesday, a battle-tested Dana Hills High (Dana Hills, Calif.) squad overcame adversity again Thursday in 6-3 win over The Canterbury School (Fort Myers, Fla.).
In the fourth, Dana Hills was able to capitalize errors. The big blow was again delivered by first baseman Joe DeBaca, whose RBI single in the first had given Dana Hills a short-lived lead. Now in the fourth, he sat back on a sharp slider to take it back up the middle for an RBI single to put the score at 5-3.
This was more than enough for Dana Hills starter Jack Sterner. Sterner settled in after Canterbury's three-run second to toss 6.1 innings of three-run ball.
Orange Lutheran 5, Trinity Christian 1
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.
Brother Rice 12, Rocky Mountain 1
In its second game of the day at the 2017 National High School Invitational, Brother Rice scored five runs in the second and six in the fifth en route to a 12-1 win over Rocky Mountain. Brett Bagus' hit really got Brother Rice going. He fired the opening salvo with a bases-clearing triple in the second to give the Crusaders an early lead. This would be more than enough for Brother Rice starter Jake Ridgway. The righty struck out six in four innings and his one run allowed was unearned.
Merritt Island 8, Arlington 0
Merritt Island (Fla.) High junior righthander Mason Denaburg tossed a gem on Thursday night, guiding the Mustangs to an 8-0 win over Arlington (Tenn.) High.
Denaburg struck out 11 and allowed just three hits while walking two over six shutout innings. Denaburg, a Florida commit, also went 3-for-4 at the plate.
Merritt Island shortstop Brady McConnell went 3-for-4 and he also reached on an error. In the second inning, he hit a hard line drive to the gap in left center field for a triple. In the sixth inning, McConnell hit another line drive to left for a double.
Cullman 7, Brother Rice 3
Disheartened after a hard-fought loss to open its bid at the National High School Invitational tournament on Wednesday, Cullman (Ala.) High lifted its spirits in the best possible way on Thursday, with a 7-3 win over the Brother Rice High (Chicago).
Cullman had 11 hits, with center fielder Owen Lovell, DH Jacob Heatherly, middle infielder Carter Bowen and catcher Weston Norton all driving runs in, Lovell leading the offensive charge with two hits and two RBIs, and the backstop notched three singles.
After sharing their widespread disappointment with the way the event started, the Bearcats came out of the gate swinging in their second contest. Each of their first five batters recorded a hit in the opening frame, and the top three in the lineup all came around giving them an early lead, and one they would never relinquish.
Cullman 6, Huntington Beach 2
Capitalizing on the momentum it gained from a big win less than an hour before its second game of the day, Cullman (Ala.) High kept rolling with a 6-2 victory over the Huntington Beach (Calif.) High on Thursday night in National High School Invitational action.
In support of a strong outing from Mississippi State commit Will Morrison, Bearcats center fielder Owen Lovell notched his second multi-hit contest of the day, one of three Cullman batters with two knocks in the game. Third baseman Noah Fondren led the offensive charge, driving in three runs, with DH Jacob Heatherly adding one RBI.
Morrison kept his team in the game, throwing seven strong innings and allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. The junior righthander held Oilers top prospects Hagen Danner and Nick Pratto to just one hit total, an infield single for Danner, a UCLA commit, and walked each hitter once.
Hamilton 7, Hough 0
In its second game Thursday at the National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, Hamilton High (Chandler, Ariz.) threw its second shutout of the day. The Huskies used their strong pitching performance and a six-run second inning to defeat tournament host Hough High (Cornelius, N.C.), 7-0.
Seniors Dominic Hamel, Cesare DeLuca and Andrey Arnett combined for a four-hit shutout. Hamel struck out one and held Hough to one hit and one walk in three innings. DeLuca followed three scoreless innings of his own, striking out three and allowing two hits. Arnett finished the game with a scoreless seventh.
Huntington Beach 8, Merritt Island 3
The final score would make it appear that Huntington Beach (Calif.) cruised to an easy 8-3 win over Merritt Island (Fla.) in a consolation game Thursday at the National High School Invitational.
Don't tell that to Kenny Kim.
When Kim came in to relieve starting pitcher Nate Madole in the fourth inning, he inherited a two-run lead, but in a situation with two men on, no outs and the top of the Merritt Island lineup coming up.
"I was just trying to hit my spots and get ground balls," Kim said. "I knew I was facing their one-two-three hitters, so I had to pitch carefully."
A strikeout, a ground out and a fly out later, Kim had gotten out of the inning without allowing a run or even a ball out of the infield.
Hamilton 3, Arlington 0
Hamilton High (Chandler, Ariz.) knows about first-game disappointments at the National High School Invitational, having lost its opener in 2013. But it also knows how to rebound.
Coming off a loss to the Canterbury School, in which they got blanked by helium prospect Sam Keating, Hamilton High rebounded Thursday by blanking Arlington (Tenn.) High 3-0 in the first game of Day Two of the 2017 NHSI at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Senior righthander Seth Sas blanked Arlington on six hits over six innings before shortstop/closer Drew Swift finished it. Hamilton, which had just four hits in its opener, knocked out nine on Thursday, two each from Britton Graham, who had the game's first RBI, and Brayden Merritt.
Hough 7, Rocky Mountain 2
It took Hough High (Cornelius, N.C) some time to find its offensive bearings, but the Huskies kicked into gear just in time.
Carter Williams hit the tie-breaking RBI single to start a five-run seventh inning, and the Huskies picked up a 7-2 win over Rocky Mountain High (Fort Collins, Colo.) on Thursday at the National High School Invitational.
Williams' bases-loaded single to the left side snapped a 2-2 tie and jump-started Hough's seventh-inning surge. North Carolina State signee Hunter Baker followed with a two-run single and Clemson commit JD Brock added an RBI triple as the Huskies batted around.
Williams finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Brock finished a home run shy of the cycle, and Jack Marcello went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Contributing: Hudson Belinsky, Alexis Brudnicki, Will Bryant, Ted Cahill, Carlos Collazo, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Vince Lara-Cinisomo.
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