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Moore, Mater Dei rolling at NHSI

High School : : General
Allan Simpson        
Published: Friday, March 30, 2012

CARY, N.C.—California’s Mater Dei High knew it had a tall task at hand when it drew the nation’s No. 1 prep team, Bishop Gorman High of Las Vegas, in its opening game of this week’s National High School Invitational, then promptly was paired against No. 2-ranked Carroll High of Corpus Christi, Texas, in its second encounter.

The Monarchs hardly flinched, though, in easily and impressively dispatching of Bishop Gorman 10-3 on Wednesday and following up with a convincing 12-0 thrashing of Carroll on Thursday in a game that was ended after five innings by the tournament’s run rule.

Our kids came here prepared to compete,” said Mater Dei coach Burt Call, “and we have played very well so far. We’re always looking to compete against the best talent we can find, so our kids are used to this kind of competition.”

Bishop Gorman entered the 16-team tournament at 8-0 and Carroll was 17-0 after winning its first game earlier Thursday, but both schools proved no match for Mater Dei, which entered the tournament with a pedestrian 7-3 record and a No. 26 national ranking.

I don’t think we were underestimated by anyone,” Call said, “but we got off to a slow start this season (two losses in their first five games) and that obviously factored into our ranking. I think it’s overlooked sometimes that there are a lot of good high-school teams in California, and you’re not going to win every game.”

The Monarchs used big third-inning eruptions in both their games to win going away. Against Bishop Gorman, they turned a 2-1 deficit into an insurmountable 9-2 lead by scoring eight runs; against Carroll, they expanded on a 2-0 lead by scoring seven times in the one frame.

Mater Dei has pounded out a total of 30 hits in its two one-sided wins, including six by junior catcher Jeremy Martinez, who is rated one of the top catching prospects nationally in the 2013 high-school draft class. Ty Moore, a UCLA recruit and the team’s top prospect for this year’s draft, was the unquestioned star for the Monarchs Thursday in their shutout win over Carroll.

Moore has a knack for performing at a high level at notable, national baseball events, as he was named the MVP at the 2011 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter last October. He also participated in the WWBA 17U National Championship for SGV Arsenal and the Perfect Game National Showcase last July and June respectively.

In Mater Dei's second game at the NHSI, he worked the first four innings of the game, scattering four hits and striking out four, to chalk up the win. He also drilled a three-run homer to highlight his team’s seven-run, third-inning outburst. He is regarded as one of the top pure hitting prospects in the 2012 prep class.

Moore was emphatic that his Mater Dei squad can compete with anyone, that the competition his team typically faces on its own turf in California more than prepares it to face some of the better teams around the country, such as the elite-level ones participating here this week.

California is the biggest state in the country, and it’s also the best from a competition standpoint,” Moore said. “We face Division I-type arms all the time back home, and 10-12 of ours kids play all over the country in travel leagues during the summer. Four or five of our players have even played on this field in national-level competition before. So we’re used to playing against the competition we’re facing here.”

If nothing else, this tournament has confirmed the accepted long-standing notion that the best high-school baseball in the country is played in California and Florida. Every year, more players are drafted from those two states than any other, and it’s been evident here that the most fundamentally-sound baseball has been played by teams from those high-profile Sun-Belt states.

Both California and Florida have three teams apiece entered in the tournament, and the combined records of the clubs from each state through two days of play is an identical 5-1. The four remaining unbeaten teams, in fact, are from those two states, and bragging rights will be very much at stake today when Florida and California teams square off in both semi-final games. The championship tilt, matching the two winners, is slated for Saturday.

In games today, Mater Dei’s 26th-ranked team will take on Florida’s unranked Sarasota High, while California’s No. 22 Harvard-Westlake will square off against No. 14 American Heritage.

Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that the four teams in the tournament that stand above that quartet in the national rankings—No. 1 Bishop Gorman (0-2), No. 2 Carroll High (1-1), No. 3-ranked Columbus (Ga.) High (1-1) and No. 10 George Washington of the Bronx, N.Y. (0-2)—are a combined 2-6, and have all been relegated to consolation games over the next two days.

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