Is it just me, or is the 2013 spring baseball season flying by? It’s hard to believe that the season is half way over, and that another installment of the National High School Invitational (NHSI) is in the books. The 2012 NHSI lived up to the hype, and in many ways surpassed it. It was a thrilling four days of baseball, which helped propel the NHSI to the forefront of high school baseball events. (You can revisit the 2012 NHSI in photos here). The 2013 NHSI had quite a bit to live up to and boy did it! With top ranked teams like The Woodlands (Texas) and Venice (Fla.) as well as returning rivals Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) and Mater Dei (Calif.) all participating, the stage was set for an incredible four days of high school baseball.
By the end of the weekend, I had over 7,000 photos and 4 hours of video footage. The photos below are just a handful of the highlights as well as some of my favorite shots from this year’s National High School Invitational. Enjoy!
Day One of the 2013 NHSI saw some stellar pitching performances. Jack Flaherty of Harvard-Westlake and Dylan Cease of Milton (Ga.) both dominated their respective games. Venice moved on to the next round with help from their starting pitcher, RHP Brandon Elmy, who went five innings with eight strikeouts against Christian Brothers (Tenn.). Mater Dei took the first steps to capturing their second NHSI title by pounding Tullahoma 11-4.
Day Two action was a true marathon. Not only did we have the most games played of the tournament (nine games), but we also had the longest game in the tournament’s brief history (14 innings). The Woodlands kicked off the day with a 2-1 win over Jenks (Okla.). Fourteen hours later, they finished the last game of the day, a thrilling 14-inning match-up against Milton. In between, we saw six complete games pitched, a game-winning run scored on a safety squeeze and a hit by pitch, and some great defensive plays.
Day Three was a day of deja vu! For the second year in a row, Harvard-Westlake’s Hans Hansen was asked to take on a top-ranked Florida school in the first semifinal game of the NHSI. Just as he did last year against American Heritage (Fla.), Hansen threw a gem to beat Venice and send the Wolverines back to the championship game. Mater Dei cruised passed top-ranked The Woodlands 11-2 in the second semifinals game of the day, setting up a rematch of last year’s championship.
We had a busy start to Day Four of the NHSI. All eight games began in a 3 1/2 hour time span which made watching all the games all but impossible. Highlights included Bingham (Utah) executing a perfect suicide squeeze to beat Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) 5-4 in extra innings as well as Tullahoma’s (Tenn.) nine hits in an 11-1 rout of Florida Christian (Fla.). The biggest games of the day, however, were the title games. Venice and The Woodlands battled it out early for third place. Venice’s Mike Rivera went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs to help Venice claim 3rd place with a 5-3 win.
For the second consecutive year, California rivals Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake met in the NHSI championship. Mater Dei got a strong pitching performance from Jacob Erickson, who threw a shutout. Along with some timely hitting and good baserunning, Mater Dei was able to capture their second straight NHSI championship trophy. It was a thrilling outcome to an incredible week of baseball!
At the end of the tournament, I put together a short video for Baseball America highlighting some of the sights and sounds from the 2013 NHSI.
I think it is safe to say that the 2013 National High School Invitational lived up to the hype of the inaugural event in 2012. Looking back through all the photos and videos, I just cannot wait to see what Baseball America and USA Baseball put together 2014! They definitely have set the bar high!