Lutheran won only once in the 2014 edition of the NHSI when Hanoian was a freshman. A few weeks prior to the 2017 tournament, the Texas Christian commit wasn't happy with how his team was playing, citing selfish at-bats as the main factor.
Now, sitting at the podium, celebrating a 3-2 win over Dana Hills (Dana Point, Calif.) in the championship game, Hanoian can look forward to replacing those memories.
"This week we really took team at-bats and we played probably the best baseball we've payed in a long time," Hanoian said. ". . . This has probably been the best team I've ever played for, too."
Orange Lutheran was the last team standing in a 16-team field after an exceptionally strong defensive showing Saturday, backing up senior starter Nicholas Janowicz (who threw two no-hit, shutout innings) and senior Zach Busalacchi, who tossed the remaining five innings and also drew a pair of crucial walks.
"What a game," Lutheran coach Eric Borba said. "It was wild. Ups and downs . . . every way you'd want a championship game to be. We didn't pitch as well as we could, but we found ways to get out of innings. We played great defense and we got the big sacrifice fly there at the end."
That sacrifice fly was a perfect example of the team-oriented approach that Hanoian was looking to see out of his teammates. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Brenden Avventino, Borba called on Jasiah Dixon, a sophomore Southern California commit.
"Coach told me to go swing a bat, and I was pretty excited," Dixon said.
Perhaps too excited at first. Dixon chased a ball low in the dirt, and found himself backed into a 1-2 count. The next pitch he saw was up. So he took it.
"And then it came, the moment," Dixon said. "I was just telling myself I've got to mentally prepare for a team at-bat right now. And once I saw that fastball up, I knew I had to go get it and put it in the outfield. Score that run."
Junior catcher Caleb Ricketts tagged from third and score the winning run.
Huntington Beach 4, Canterbury School 3
Huntington Beach (Calif.) didn't do exactly what it wanted this week in the National High School Invitational, but ended on a high note Saturday with a 4-3 win over Canterbury (Fort Myers, Fla.) High, improving to 9-3 overall during the last three years in the tournament.
"Nine and three in the national tournament over three years-nothing to be ashamed of at all," coach Benji Medure said. "This tournament really put us on the map as a program and we really feel privileged to be here. And hopefully in years to come we can get back here and try to win it again."
The Oilers topped West Chaminade, 7-2, in the 2016 NHSI championship game, but had to settle for a consolation victory behind a strong pitching performance Saturday by Hagen Danner.
Danner hit a pair of batters in his first inning before finding the feel for his curveball in the second inning. He went on to throw five innings, striking out six batters and walking one while getting regular swings and misses on his 11-5, 76-77 mph curve.
American Heritage 6, Hamilton 5
American Heritage outlasted Hamilton High in a marathon game to close out the National High School Invitational, defeating the Huskies 6-5 in 11 innings.
Hamilton led took a 3-0 lead behind five scoreless innings by Dustin Bermudez and rallied from a 4-2 deficit. Cory Acton drove home two with a double and later two on an infield chopper with the bases loaded to tie the game for American Heritage.
Little-used reliever Anthony Boix tossed four innings, giving up one in the 11th as Hamilton took a 5-4 lead, before the Patriots rallied to win won an RBI double by Alfonso Guillen to tie and an RBI single by Santiago Garavito.
Winder-Barrow 6, Rocky Mountain 5
Winder-Barrow finished the NHSI 3-1, denying a game Rocky Mountain team a victory in its final game with a 6-5 walk-off victory.
Rocky Mountain, trailing 4-3 entering the sixth, scored a pair of runs on John Sorensen's single to take the lead. However, Winder-Barrow answered with a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. The Bulldoggs won it in extra innings on a walk-off wild pitch.
"I loved it," Bulldoggs coach Brian Smith said of the NHSI. "Everything was first class, and what we have in the state of Georgia this year is a neutral-site state championship, so it will be a setting just like this. We go in and a little bit of tournament-type atmosphere to win the state, so it's great practice for that."
Merritt Island 7. Brother Rice 2
In each team's final game of the National High School Invitational, Merritt Island was able to get the win over Brother Rice, 7-2.
The Mustangs got three runs on the board in the first inning. This rally was nearly broken on a squeeze attempt, but third basemen Joe Johnson was able to get the barrel to a pitch way over his head. Two batters later, Ricardo Diaz was able to open up the inning with a two-run single.
Junior Collin Taulbee showcased a fastball that topped out at 84 mph and settled in at 80-82. He complemented this with three off-speed pitches. A sweeping curve at 68-70 that he used to break into the front door to righties, A 12-6 curve at 72-74 that had tight spin at times, and a changeup at 72-73 that showed sinking action.
Arlington 2, Hough 1
A pitcher's duel broke out on Field 3 of the National Training Complex, a game that was an afterthought in the NHSI standings and anything but that to Arlington (Tenn.) and Hough High of Charlotte, N.C.
Arlington got three of its five hits when it counted, rallying for its first NHSI victory on Noah Miller's walk-off single for a 2-1 victory. Righthander Ryan Taylor tossed a complete game for the win.
"I told the guys the other day, you learn a lot through failure, and you don't always learn from victory," Arlington coach Chris Ring said. "I told the guys, I think we've learned a lot, because we're 0-3; it was time for a win."
Trinity Christian 2, South Hills 1
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) sophomore righthander Austin Thomas is jokingly called "Big Bird" by his teammates.
And in Saturday's National High School Invitational consolation matchup against South Hills (West Covina, Calif.), Thomas certainly came up big.
The lanky long-haired righthander cruised threw a seven-inning complete game, shutting down the powerful Huskies in a 2-1 Conquerers win. Thomas struck out six and allowed three hits, walking none. He touched 88 mph while mixing in a changeup and a slow curveball.
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