National Game of the Week
Houston Christian (TX) 3, Arcadia(AZ) 2 (box score via GameChanger)
Arcadia knew they were going to have their hands full matching up against 2011 PG All-American Classic participant and 2012 MLB Draft prospect Mitchell Traver of Houston Christian. So head coach Ken Rudolph decided that 'if they're going to throw their top guy, we're going to throw ours.'
Arcadia's top guy, 2012 LHP Andrew Naderer, was up to the task. The thin athletic southpaw matched Traver pitch for pitch in the early going, and found himself staked to a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth inning.
While Traver lit up radar guns with his fastball that sat at 92 mph throughout the entire game and topped out at 94, Naderer was equally as effective working in the mid 80s, topping out at 87. Both pitchers allowed two runs on five hits, Naderer struck out 10 and walked two, Traver struck out five and walked three while throwing a complete game.
Arcadia drew first blood in the top of the third, after Gary Cornish led off the inning with a hit by pitch and came around to score on an error. The Titans increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth after Max Schuman battled out of an 0-2 hole to draw a leadoff walk, the Titans brought around their second run with back-to-back singles by Caleb McKinnon and Drew Butler.
That was all of the offense Arcadia would muster against Traver, who explained "after I gave up that second run I said to myself 'who are you?' It doesn't matter who is in the stands, this is about my team, so I just pressed on." Traver had a noticeable blister on his thumb and index finger of his pitching hand. When asked about it after the game, he explained that he had touched a hot fajita plate at dinner the night before but added that it didn't affect him on the mound. Houston Christian coach Joe Rodden disagreed, explaining that the blister affected Traver more than his ace was willing to let on, but said that he hadn't considered pushing him back a day. Rodden noted that they chose not to call for him to use his changeup as a result.
Houston Christian finally got to Naderer, who had been carving them up through the first four and two-thirds innings, with a two-out rally in the fifth that started on a single by David Holewyne. Nine hole hitter Devon Wilson drew a walk and both runners advanced on a balk. Leadoff hitting CF Gavin Vanderhider continued to come up big at the plate as he has done all tournament, driving a single through the five-six hole between third and short to plate both runners and even the score at 2-2. Naderer would get out of the inning with a strikeout.
Traver and Naderer would trade zeroes in the sixth, as both found their offspeed stuff getting sharper in the late innings. Naderer's deceptive changeup was giving Houston Christian's hitters a lot of trouble and he was locating his breaking ball as well.
Traver came back out for the seventh and had his best inning stuff-wise, long after many of the scouts on hand had left. He hit 92 mph several times, had feel for his curveball which he used much more aggressively. Traver struck out the first two hitters on seven pitches before Alex Reynolds singled back up the middle. Traver quickly got the next hitter to roll over on a curveball, grounding out to third to end the inning. Coming off the mound Traver bellowed out "let's do this!" to his teammates as they were running in from their positions.
And 'do this' they would. Naderer's day was done after 94 pitches and six high quality innings that left the scouts who were on hand to watch Traver commenting to one another 'hey, this lefty is pretty good.'
Houston Christian took advantage of the opportunity. With one out Wilson, a promising sophomore doubled with one out to get things started. Arcaida elected to intentionally walk Vanderhider. SS Jonathan Bravo came to the plate with a mult-hit game already under his belt. Bravo hit a chopper up the middle and Arcadia's attempt at an inning ending double play went awry, giving Houston Christian a gritty come-from-behind victory to move to 3-0 at the Cleats Sports Invitational. Arcadia fell to 1-1 after having won their opener with a walk-off Home Run by Drew Butler in extra innings, but remained alive the playoff race for the No. 2 speed in the National Division.
Rodden said after the game "we came in expecting a fight from them, and they gave it to us." While Arcadia coach Ken Rudolph was disappointed, he found the positive, saying "when you can play this type of competition makes you tougher, and this will show our guys that they are capable of playing with these types of teams."Naderer added "they were all tough outs, they were just as good as advertised."
Perfect Game's live coverage of the2012 Cleats Sports Invitational continues through Saturday with daily scouting blogs, live scoring of Saturday's championship game via GameChanger and post-tournament wrapup coverage that will include a top prospect list.
Video of Naderer:
Video of Traver:
The 2012 Cleats Sports Invitational brings together highly talented teams from several states to compete in the Phoenix area this week. The matchup between Arcadia (AZ) and Houston Christian (TX)brings together a pair of strong teams from their respective areas, competing for a playoff berth in the Cleats tournament.
Arcadia opened the Cleats Invitational with a thrilling extra innings win over Desert Mountain (AZ) via walk-off Home Run by Drew Butler.
Arcadia coach Ken Rudolph said of the win"it was a good win for us, a few mistakes have cost us a couple of ballgames and yesterday it was looking the same way but it was a good team effort, staying tough and it helped us solidify what we're trying to accomplish."
Houston Christian opened with a pair of wins in a doubleheader against Seton Catholic (AZ) and Redlands East Valley(CA) by a combined score of 15-1.
Houston Christian will unleash ace RHP Mitchell Traver, a 2011 Perfect Game All-American, who is committed to TCU and consistently draws a large contingent of scouts as a MLB Draft prospect.
Arcadia has not settled on a starting pitcher yet, as they play a doubleheader and will start Butler and lefty Andrew Naderer, though they have not yet decided who will pitch in which game. Butler is 1-0 with a 0.70 ERA in the early going this season, while Naderer is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
Houston Christian coach Joe Rodden said of the matchup "from what I hear we've got a tough matchup against a team in their place and we're excited about it, hopefully we can keep playing well and putting games in the win column." He added "with Mitchell on the mound we expect to win, offensively and defensively we want to do the job and support him, it's a good opponent at their place, we expect a fight."
While Traver is the marquee prospect in this matchup, he's not the only exciting player to watch. Arcadia C Max Schuman shows legitimate division one tools as a junior and is drawing interest from the Pac 12 and his left handed bat will present a challenge for Traver. He's also one of the few juniors playing on a very experience, senior-laden team with playoff experience. Naderer, who is a quality LHP also swings the bat well with a fluid, tension free swing and is another quality left handed bat in the Arcadia lineup.
Houston Christian flexed their muscle in a double-header on Tuesday. 2012 SS Jonny Bravo went 3-for-3 in the second game, and his high energy approach to the game allows him to play beyond his solid across the board tools and sets the tone for the Mustangs. 2013 OF Gavin Vanderhider showed a quick bat,patient leadoff approach and solid athleticism and hit a game ending Home Run in the first game. Traver's future teammate at TCU, RHP/1B Brian Trieglaff has a future on the mound, having hit 92 mph while closing out the second game on Tuesday, but he also adds some pop to the Mustangs lineup when he isn't pitching. Houston Christian's lineup has depth of solid hitters throughout with several more players who made positive impressions as well.
Traver said of the experience of playing at the Cleats Invitational "we see quality competition in Houston all yearlong, but if and when we can come out here and beat some of these teams that we don't know anything about, it's definitely a momentum changer."
First pitch is set for 4:00Pacific. Be sure to follow us on twitter @TGold_PG and @highschoolPG for live updates and check back on Thursday for the game recap story