Cary, N.C. -- No challenge has proved too big for South Hills (West Covina, Calif.) in the first two rounds of the USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. The Huskies continued to fire on all cylinders Thursday, as they recorded the tournament's biggest upset so far, defeating Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.),
Cary, N.C. -- No challenge has proved too big for South Hills (West Covina, Calif.) in the first two rounds of the USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. The Huskies continued to fire on all cylinders Thursday, as they recorded the tournament's biggest upset so far, defeating Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.), the nation's top-ranked high school program, 5-1 at Coleman Field.
"To be invited here and get a chance to play the No. 1 team in an "A" game is something we all said we wanted South Hills to get to," said Huskies head coach Darren Murphy. "We wanted South Hills to become a national power, and I think we're stating our case this week."
:: 2017 USA Baseball National High School Invitational ::
For a second straight day, South Hills received a brilliant performance from its starting pitcher and came through with key hits when they needed them en route to a decisive victory.
Junior right-hander Brandon Dieter led the way on the mound by allowing one earned run in a complete-game effort. The Stanford commit scattered four hits, issued one walk and fanned six while throwing 63 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
"I think today you saw one of America's best pitchers," said Murphy, reflecting on his ace's performance. "That team is absolutely loaded on the offensive end, and Brandon stifled them all day."
Dieter showed feel for his entire reportoire from the outset of the game. He comfortably pitched to both sides of the plate with his 85-87 mph four-seam fastball, while selectively mixing in his improving two-seamer. He recorded whiffs against both right-handed and left-handed hitters with his changeup, throwing it at 79-81 mph with late fading action and masking it with fastball-like arm speed, and he was consistently around the zone with his low-70s curveball.
"Yesterday and today, in the bullpen we were really working on mixing pitches, and that was the strategy we came into today's game with. It worked out very well," said Dieter.
Dieter -- who plays either middle-infield position when he's not pitching -- supported his performance on the mound with a strong showing at the plate, tallying RBI singles in each of his first two at-bats to stake South Hills to an early 2-0 lead.
"Besides pitching, I'm trying to doing everything I can at the plate to help my team. It just worked out today," he said. "Getting invited to this prestigious event and being able to defeat the No. 1 team in the nation is a great feeling."
Although Dieter's knocks got the scoring started for the Huskies, it was Jacob Amaya's bases-clearing double in the top of the sixth inning that blew the game open. After lining out to right field with the bases loaded in the fourth, the Cal State Fullerton-bound shortstop atoned in his next trip to the plate, roping a line drive over the left fielder's head to extend South Hills' lead.
"After he threw me a fastball with a 1-0 count, I knew he was going to throw me a curveball," Amaya said. "I just sat back and did what I had to do. We were up 2-1, and I knew I had to give [Brandon] some runs."
South Hills will attempt to further its impressive run through a deeply talented NHSI field on Friday in a semifinals matchup against Orange Luterthan at 2 p.m. in a game that can be seen live on MLB.com.
For now, however, the Huskies are relishing having just upset a historically elite high school program.
"This is one of the greatest wins I've had personally as a coach," said Murphy. "It ranks up there right at the top. When we have our backs against the wall versus a really good opponent, it seems to bring out the best in us."
Winder-Barrow 7, American Heritage 0
Winder-Barrow High (Winder, Ga.) may have begun this week's National High School Invitational as an underdog, but it hasn't taken long for the team to change that perception.
Having already defeated Huntington Beach, the No. 5 high school team in the country, in extra innings in the tournament's opening round, the Bulldogs continued to surge through the winner's bracket on Thursday with a dominant 7-0 win over American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.).
"I'm very proud of these guys, because they work so hard and deserve these types of wins," said Winder-Barrow head coach Brian Smith. "We're not trying to do anything different because of whomever it is we're playing. We just work to our strengths, and that's what these guys are about."
Consistent pitching has been the Bulldogs' greatest strength so far. Senior Darrell Woodall's scoreless performance on Thursday came just one day after senior lefty Daniel Buice allowed one earned run on five hits in eight innings against Huntington Beach.
"Both [Darrell and Daniel] believe in forcing poor contact and not trying to do too much -- just letting the ball move, changing speeds and locating. And when you have a good defense like we do, that wins," said Smith after the game about his two starters.
"The defense behind me makes it very easy to pitch," added Woodall. "I usually pitch to contact, and they don't really make mistakes. It's an easy job."
One of four remaining unbeaten teams in the NHSI, Winder-Barrow will attempt to keep rolling on Friday in a semifinals matchup. Should the Bulldogs win, they'll play for the NHSI title on Saturday.
Orange Lutheran 5, Trinity Christian 1
A big game at the plate from toolsy center fielder (and UCLA commit) Garrett Mitchell propelled Orange Lutheran into the semifinals. MLBPipeline.com's No. 20 prep prospect in the 2017 Draft class, Mitchell went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and pair of steals to lead the Lancers' offense. Texas Christian-bound infielder Tristan Hanoian also tallied a pair of hits, including a double, while left-hander Jason Farese, a San Diego commit, allowed one run in six innings while throwing 60 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
Dana Hills 6, Canterbury 3
After upsetting Cullman in Wednesday's opening round, Dana Hills (Dana Point, Calif.) scored five unanswered runs to defeat Canterbury (Fort Myers, Fla.) in quarterfinal play. That was more than enough for junior right-hander Jack Sterner, who allowed all three runs in the second inning before settling in and completing 6 1/3 strong frames. Cleanup hitter Joe DeBaca, a UC San Diego commit, powered Dana Hills' offense with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance, while sophomore Zachary Waters scored a pair of runs out of the leadoff spot.
Hamilton 3, Arlington 0
Senior right-hander Seth Sas tossed six dominant innings to pace Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) in a shutout of Arlington. The Central Arizona College commit scattered six hits while striking out four and walking one. At the plate, Brayden Merritt and Britton Graham led the Huskies' offense with two hits apiece.
Hough 7, Rocky Mountain 2
The two teams were tied 2-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning before Hough (Cornelius, N.C.) erupted to score five runs while sending nine batters to the plate. Clemson recruit JD Brock tallied a double and a triple as part of a 3-for-4 performance, while Presbyterian-bound shortstop Carter Williams finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. On the mound, right-hander and Penn State commit Bailey Dees fanned six batters in five innings while hitting 87-88 mph with his fastball.
Huntington Beach 8, Merritt Island 3
Coming off an extra-inning loss on Wednesday, Huntington Beach bounced back to pick up its first win of the tournament against Merritt Island. USC-bound left-hander/first baseman Nick Pratto went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the victory, while Hagen Danner, a UCLA recruit, finished 1-for-2 with a double, two runs scored and two walks.
Cullman 7, Brother Rice 3
After being upset by Dana Hills on Wednesday, Cullman jumped out to an early lead Thursday and never looked back en route to handing Brother Rice (Chicago) its second loss of the tournament. Mississippi state-bound outfielder/right-hander Owen Lovell's RBI double started the scoring in what was a three-run first inning for the Bearcats, and he went on to drive in another run while finishing 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Alabama-bound left-hander/outfielder Jacob Heatherly, MLBPipeline.com's No. 7 high school prospect, also tallied a pair of RBIs in the contest, while junior catcher Weston Norton finished 3-for-4 at the plate.
Cullman 6, Huntington Beach 2
The Bearcats dealt Huntington Beach its second loss of the tournament thanks to a complete game from junior right-hander Will Morrison. The Mississippi State commit allowed two earned runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts and threw just 84 pitches (60 strikes) in the performance. Cullman received big contributions from the bottom of its lineup, as Caleb Lipsey and Grayson Taylor, the team's eight- and nine-hole hitters, respectively, both went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Leadoff man and Alabama commit Noah Fondren also had a big game offensively, finishing 1-for-4 with three RBIs.
Hamilton 7, Hough 0
A trio of hurlers combined to toss Hamilton's (Chandler, Ariz.) second shutout of the day, as seniors Dominic Hamel, Chaz DeLuca and Andrey Arnett allowed a total of just four hits. Offensively, Arizona State-bound shortstop Drew Swift delivered a two-run triple as part of a six-run second inning, while sophomore JD McLaughlin, an Oregon State recruit, came off the bench to go 2-for-2 and score a run.
Merritt Island 6, Arlington 0
Junior Mason Denaburg showed exactly why he's viewed not just as one of the premier two-way prospects in the 2018 Draft class, but one of its best overall prospects. The Florida commit dominated on the mound for six innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 11. His fastball was up to 93 mph early in the outing, and he sat at 88-91 mph as the game progressed, all the while showing good feel for his sharp slider. Offensively, Denaburg, who batted second for the Mustangs on Thursday, went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Florida-bound shortstop Brady McDonnell, MLBPipeline.com's No. 25 prep prospect for the 2017 Draft, also tallied three hits, finishing 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBIs.
Brother Rice 12, Rocky Mountain 1
After scoring a total of just two runs in their first two NHSI contests, Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.) erupted for 12 runs on 16 hits on Thursday, scoring five times in the second inning, six times in the fifth and once in the seventh. Much of that production came from senior outfielder Brett Bagus at the bottom of the order, where he went 2-for-3 with two triples, two runs scored and five RBIs. Overall, the Crusaders had six players finish with multiple hits and received a strong performance from Indiana State-bound starting pitcher Jake Ridgway, who yielded two hits while striking out six in four innings.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.