Cova Hurls Santa Margarita Into the Semifinals

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
St. Xavier 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 7 1
Santa Margarita 1 0 0 1 0 0 X 2 3 0

Box | Plays | Cumulative: St. Xavier | Santa Margarita

CARY, N.C. -- St. Xavier’s Jake Gregor and Santa Margarita’s Sammy Cova battled back and forth in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel on Thursday, but a Logan de Groot sacrifice fly proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory for the Eagles at the 2023 USA Baseball National High School Invitational presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

With the win, Santa Margarita (2-0) moves on to the semifinals on Saturday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary. They will face the winner of Brother Rice and JSerra Catholic.

St. Xavier (1-1) outhit the Eagles 7-3 on the day, but Cova would not budge. He struck out seven batters and only walked one batter in a complete-game, one-run victory. Gregor was solid as well, striking out four and giving up two runs (one earned) in his six innings of work. He also contributed offensively, being responsible for the Tigers’ only run of the game thanks to his RBI-single in the sixth.


  • Blake Balsz led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple down the right-field line before his courtesy runner, Lucas Owens, came around to score on a Luke Lavin RBI-groundout to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
  • Blake Wilson legged out an infield single and advanced to third on an error and groundout for Santa Margarita. Logan de Groot then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to bring Wilson across the plate and extend the Eagles’ lead to 2-0.
  • Xavier’s starting pitcher Jake Gregor came through with a clutch two-RBI single to put the Tigers on the board in the top of the sixth. Landon Akers and Cooper Smith kickstarted the rally with back-to-back two-out singles before Gregor pushed a ball through the right side to make the score 2-1.
  • Santa Margarita tried to respond in the bottom of the sixth, but the Tigers escaped a bases-loaded jam by Gregor, forcing a fly out to center.
  • Ryan Comella tried to kickstart a rally in the top of the seventh with a leadoff single and eventually got to third base, but Cova and the Eagles’ defense was too much, closing out the victory with a strikeout.


  • Sammy Cova started on the mound for Santa Margarita and pitched a complete-game victory, striking out seven batters on the day.
  • Xavier starting pitcher Jake Gregor suffered the loss after giving up two runs (one earned) and striking out four in his six-inning outing.
  • Landon Akers led all batters on the day with a 2-for-3 day for St. Xavier.


  • Santa Margarita will match up against the winner of Brother Rice and JSerra Catholic in the semifinals on Saturday.
  • Xavier will play in a consolation game Saturday against a to-be-determined opponent.

All games of the 2023 NHSI will be streamed on USABaseball.TV and @USABaseballTV on YouTube.


Stay tuned with all of the action at the 2023 National High School Invitational by following @USABEvents on Twitter and @USABaseball on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Fans and media can use #NHSI23 in their posts.