CARY, N.C. -- Reigning National High School Invitational champion Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.) successfully defended its title on Saturday, defeating Green Hope (Cary, N.C.), 9-3, on Coleman Field at USA Baseball's National Training Complex.
:: 2018 USA Baseball National High School Invitational ::
The Lancers became just the second team to win back-to-back NHSI championships, joining Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), which claimed a pair of titles in the event's first two years (2012-13).
"What a great day, what a great week," Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba said after the game. "It's been a fun ride. USA Baseball does a tremendous job with this event, and to take home the trophy for a second straight year is an awesome feeling -- can't even describe it."
After failing to collect a hit through the first three innings against Green Hope starting pitcher Elmo Arimurti, Lutheran's offense finally came to life in the fourth inning as it erupted to score five runs on five hits while sending 11 batters to the plate.
Ranked as MLBPipeline's No. 42 Draft prospect, senior Cole Winn, who dominated on the mound in Lutheran's first-round victory, put the Lancers on the board when he plated junior outfielder Jasiah Dixon with a one-out double to the left-center-field gap. Junior Evan Adolphus tallied an RBI single two batters later before pinch-hitter Carl Lawson drove home a pair of runs with a single misplayed by Falcons left fielder Johnathon Ankner. Leadoff man and rising sophomore Chad Born followed with a single, while Caleb Ricketts, a senior catcher committed to UC San Diego, capped the Lancers' six-run frame with one of his own.
"Our offense did what they had to do," Borba said. "We played a couple tight games the last couple days in which we had to execute do the little things, and then today we were able to bust out with five or six hits in an inning and put up a crooked number and bring home that trophy."
The Lancers tacked on another run in the top of the fifth inning on Adolphus' second hit of the game -- a 102.5-mph single through the left side of the infield -- only to see Green Hope rally in the bottom of the frame to score three runs.
Liam McHale and pinch-hitter Joseph Nunn opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Ankner, the club's No. 9 hitter, drove home the Falcons' first run of the game with a double to left field. Second baseman Kevin Pitarra added an RBI single two batters later, and Connor Knapp pushed across Green Hope's final run of the frame on a fielder's choice to second base.
"Hats off to Green Hope," Borba said. "They had an amazing week and put up a heck of a fight. Those guys play the game the right way and it would have been really easy for them to fold down 6-0, but they have a lot of character and came right back and put some pressure on us and made it interesting."
Video: Orange Lutheran's five-run 4th inning at the NHSI
Lutheran went on to add three insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning, as a two-run knock from Winn and Adolphus' third RBI single of the game put Green Hope's chances of a potential comeback out of reach.
"I was just trying to stay through the middle," said Winn, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs. "I felt like the first two games I was trying to do too much, but the last couple I just relaxed and tried to put good swings on [the ball]."
Adolphus paced Lutheran's offense, going 3-for-4 with three-RBIs. Dixon and standout sophomore Max Rajcic scored two runs each and combined for three stolen bases.
"I just felt relaxed after popping up in my first at-bat," Adolphus said. "I was just trying to do what I could do and hit the ball back up the middle."
Video: Orange Lutheran's three-run 7th inning at the NHSI
Lancers reliever Johnny Guzman, a junior right-hander committed to San Diego State, retired the final seven batters -- sitting 85-87 mph with his running fastball -- to record the save, sparking Lutheran's second dog pile on Coleman Field in as many years. Starting pitcher Lonnie Morris, a senior left-hander, earned the win after allowing three earned runs over four innings. He displayed a lively fastball in the outing that topped out at 86 mph.
Altogether, seven Lutheran pitchers surrendered a combined six runs in the tournament and collectively posted a 1.50 ERA with 14 hits allowed in 28 innings.
"It starts with our pitching, it really does," Borba said. "We were able to shut down some very good offenses and good teams. We have a lot of confidence in our pitching staff, but they did what they needed to do, throwing strikes and trusting their stuff. To give up only six runs at a tournament like this, against the teams we played, speaks to our pitching and defense, which is what we stress."
Knapp was Green Hope's offensive standout in the loss, as he accounted for two of his team's seven hits. He finished the tournament with six hits and a .429 average, both tops among Falcons hitters.
Video: Green Hope scores three in the 5th at the NHSI
Jordyn Adams, one of the top performers at this year's tournament, was kept quiet at the plate on Saturday, but did receive some unexpected time on the mound. Pitching for the first time this season, the tooled-up, two-sport star reached 88 mph with his fastball, but also yielded four earned runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Although the Falcons came up short in their quest to upend last year's NHSI champions, the club still proved to be one of the event's more well-rounded teams, impressing fans, players and coaches alike.
"They did everything that good teams have to do," Borba said. "I watched them all week and it was just fun to watch. They didn't beat themselves; they made every play and had quality at-bats up and down the lineup and got strong pitching performances. That's a special team, and they're going to do a lot of good things. They represented the town of Cary well."
Calvary Christian 3, John Curtis Christian 0
Freshman right-hander Andrew Pointer fired a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts to pace Calvary Christian (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) in its third NHSI win. A 6-foot-4, 195-pounder who is committed to Florida, Pointer carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before yielding a leadoff single. He bumped 87 mph with his fastball in the outing -- and was still hitting 83 mph in his final inning of work -- and showed good feel for a big 12-to-6 curveball in the mid-60s. Senior outfielder David Judge went 3-for-3 to lead the Eagles' offense.
Florence 9, Mater Dei 5
The top four hitters in Florence's (Florence, Ala.) lineup combined for six hits, six runs and seven RBIs as the Falcons scored all nine of their runs in the first three innings en route to their only NHSI win. Sophomore third baseman Ben Arnett, the team's three-hole hitter, went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and freshman catcher Zeke Bishop recorded a team-high three RBIs to lead the offense. Junior right-hander William Conrad worked four scoreless innings in relief before turning the ball over to freshman and LSU recruit Grant Taylor, who proceeded to open eyes with his 91 mph fastball, while pitching a scoreless frame. Shortstop Emilio Rosas hit a pair of doubles and third baseman Chad Call went 3-for-3 with a stolen base for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Mount Carmel 6, Trinity Prep 0
Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.) starting pitcher Luke Pappas etched his name in the NHSI record books as he became the first player in the event's seven-year history to throw a no-hitter. Needing just 80 pitches (54 strikes) to accomplish the feat, the junior left-hander posted seven strikeouts against one walk, induced nine ground-ball outs and threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 23 batters he faced in the outing. Texas Christian-commit Alek Thomas, MLB Pipeline's No. 49 overall Draft prospect, had another strong game, going 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk. Edward Howard, a sophomore committed to Oklahoma, and Joey Egan each tallied two hits and scored one run from the bottom of the Caravan lineup.
George Jenkins 5, Santiago 0
A trio of George Jenkins (Lakeland, Fla.) pitchers combined to throw a five-hit shutout as the Eagles won their third game of the tournament. Starting pitcher Jackson Ross, a senior right-hander, was particularly effective, allowing just three hits while striking out five over five innings. Florida Gulf Coast commit Brandt Sundean led the Eagles offensively with a double and two RBIs in a 2-for-3 performance. Overall, the 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter posted a .571 average (8-for-14) with five RBIs at this year's NHSI. Santiago shortstop Brice Turang, MLB Pipeline's No. 7 Draft prospect, recorded his second straight multihit game to finish the tournament with a .545 average (6-for-11).
American Heritage 4, Sandra Day O'Connor 3
Cory Acton worked three scoreless innings out of the bullpen for Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) before walking it off with a single in the bottom of the seventh. It capped a 2-for-4 day at the plate for the Florida commit, who had hit a one-hop double off the right-field wall earlier in the contest. No. 39 overall Draft prospect Triston Casas and leadoff man Enrique Bradfield also doubled for the Patriots, with the latter ultimately finishing 2-for-4 with a stolen base and the game-winning run. Sophomore Jordan Carrion, a shortstop committed to Florida, started on the mound and struck out eight batters in four innings while operating with a low- to mid-80s fastball.
Hanover 7, Hattiesburg 5
Senior Colby Hutnan filled out the box score by going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases in his perfect day at the plate for Hanover (Mechanicsville, Va.). Designated hitter Will Bowles, a junior, also scored two runs while coaxing three walks. No. 40 overall Draft prospect Joe Gray Jr., a Mississippi commit, put a bow on his impressive NHSI showing by going 1-for-2 with two runs scored, two walks and a steal in Hattiesburg's (Hattiesburg, Miss.) loss. Sophomore leadoff hitter Kadarius Hicks collected two hits and matched Gray's performance with two runs scored and a steal.
Walton 12, Mountain Ridge 2
The Raiders (Glendale, Ariz.) pushed across nine runs in the first two innings -- scoring five runs in the first inning and four in the second -- in their run-rule rout of Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.). Junior shortstop Pierce Gallo hit three ringing doubles, scored two runs and drove in two more to pace a Walton offense that had all but one starter collect a hit in the contest. The Clemson recruit finished the NHSI with a .636 average (7-for-11) and .750 on-base percentage.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.