National Game of the Week Recap
Boxscore via GameChanger
The pitching matchup lived up to expectations. The back and forth battle between defending Oklahoma state champion Broken Arrow and Arizona contender Boulder Creek was all about the curveball.
Boulder Creek (AZ) ace RHP Tony Blanford has a reputation for his hammer curve, having recently been tabbed as the best offpseed stuff in the Southwest Region. But for one night it was Broken Arrow (OK) LHP Jacob Evans whose curveball that reigned supreme.
Evans began the game pitching off of his fastball, which sat 83-85 with a low effort delivery and good command. But Boulder Creek was able to get the bat on his fastball, using an error on a ground ball, a double and a fielders choice to put up two runs in the first inning.
Evans said that he noticed as the game went along that Boulder Creek wasn't getting good swings against his curveball, so he kept throwing. By the late innings he was pitching almost exclusively off of his big sweeping curveball with tight bending 1-7 break, that he was able to drop into the strike zone consistently with low 70s velocity. It worked out extremely well, Evans only gave up one hit while striking out six from the fourth inning on.
Blanford held up his end of the bargain as well, in what was expected to be a pitcher's duel. He sat 88-90 with his fastball in the early innings, touching 91 twice, and was aggressive with his curveball, which at times was a plus pitch, up to 78 with big depth. Blanford's first mistake pitch of the game in the third inning was followed by a pair of errors that pulled Broken Arrow ahead 3-2.
Boulder Creek would answer with a run in the bottom of the third, when C David Real blasted a deep towering fly ball to left center that would've been a 2-run Home Run at most of the high school ballparks in the Phoenix area, but settled for a game tying sac fly at spacious Grand Canyon University.
An inning later Trey Cobb, who threw a complete game in the win over O'Connor (AZ) on Tuesday would double in the go-ahead run to put Broken Arrow ahead for good. Blanford would follow that up with a called third strike on a nasty curveball back door before being lifted for a left handed reliever to face left handed hitting Broken Arrow SS Nick Roark. The strategy paid off as Alex Lownes got Roark to ground out on a short chopper to SS West Tunnell who made a tough throw on the run to end the inning, continuing his impressive defensive play.
But the one run lead was more than enough for Evans. By that point he was throwing almost exclusively curveballs. And with the exception of Blanford, who moved to center field after finishing his start, who lined a first pitch curveball back up the middle, Boulder Creek struggled to get the bat on Evans' curve.
Evans final line was three runs (two earned) on four hits, with 11 strikeouts and no walks on just 89 pitches.
The story coming in was the starting pitching matchup, as it turned out they would also the be the offensive standouts as well. Evans went 3-for-4 with an RBI and was a Home Run shy of the cycle. Blanford went 1-for-3 out of the leadoff spot for Boulder Creek.
After the game Evans was asked about the experience of playing in a college stadium in a televised game with a lot of scouts in the stands, he noted that Broken Arrow routinely played in front of large crowds of scouts (who were on hand primarily to watch first round pick Archie Bradley) but added "getting to play on tv against a good team was a lot of fun."
The Tigers finished the trip 3-1, bouncing back well after taking their first loss of the season against Moorpark (CA) on Wednesday with a rare win over Tony Blanford. Evans noted that "getting that loss out of the way kind of got us relaxed for tonight."
Boulder Creek has a couple of more games in the Coach Bob Open Section before starting up the National Division section of the tournament on Monday. Boulder Creek coach Joe McDonald said of the experience "we use these games as a catapult as we head into the (AIA) power ranking games, we lost a one-run game to a very good ballclub and I like our chances next week."
Spring tournament season is in full swing in the Phoenix area, and this week's schedule is highlighted by the Big League Dugout National Invitational and the Coach Bob National Invitational.
This week's marquee matchup from the Open Division of the Coach Bob National Invitational features a pair of high caliber pitching prospects squaring off in a game that will be played under the lights at Grand Canyon University, and broadcasted locally on Cox 7, with a free online stream available on cox7.com. First pitch set for 7:00 Mountain Standard/Pacific Daylight time in Arizona (10:00 eastern).
Tournament host Boulder Creek (AZ) sends ace RHP Tony Blanford to the mound to face defending Oklahoma 6A state champion Broken Arrow. The Tigers will counter Blanford with left hander Jacob Evans.
Blanford is currently the No. 3 prospect in the state of Arizona and is committed to play his college baseball at Arizona State. Evans is a two-way prospect who usually bats third in the Tigers lineup and is committed to the University of Oklahoma.
Broken Arrow won their first two games on the Coach Bob Invitational, before losing their first game of the season to Quartz Hill (CA) yesterday, falling to 12-1 on the season. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 12 in the Texahoma Regional Rankings, which ranks teams from Texas and Oklahoma (third highest among teams from Oklahoma).
Boulder Creek is off to a disappointingly slow start at 7-5-1, and have fallen to No. 18 in the Southwest Regional Rankings as a result. But they remain in the rankings due to their on-field talent, as most talent evaluators in the region feel that they are one of the best teams in Arizona in terms of raw ability. They will look to Blanford to give them some momentum heading into next week when they face a tough schedule in the National Division of the Coach Bob Invitational.
Broken Arrow lost a lot of talent to graduation after last year's title run, including a pair of key players who now call Arizona home in Arizona Diamondbacks first round draft pick Archie Bradley and Arizona State freshman catcher Dylan Delso. Coach Shannon Dobson said of the experience his young team has gained from playing in the tournament "I think it helps us down the road when you get into the playoffs, when you've been in some tight situations and battle to come from behind and get back into ballgames."
The Tigers' 2012 edition is lead by a pair of quality pitchers in Evans and 2013 RHP Trey Cobb, an LSU commit, who threw a complete game in Tuesday's win over O'Connor (AZ). The strength of their offense lies in it's depth. CF Julian Henderson hit in the nine hole in the opening games of the tournament and has provided a lot of production. Henderson's swing and his physical build mirror one another in that they are short, compact and strong. He covers good ground in the outfield and his speed is an asset on the bases. Evans provides the power out of the three hole, while C Cody Zieglar and 3B/C Alex Copeland also provide pop to the Tigers lineup. 2014 SS Nick Roark has been thrown into the fire and while he lacks experience, he is a very projectable player who has a lot of potential. He gives the Tigers another solid offensive contributor at the bottom of the order and plays good defense.
Boulder Creek opened the Coach Bob Invitational with a 4-3 win over John Burroughs (CA) yesterday. In addition to Blanford, the Jaguars are led by senior SS West Tunnell, a Baylor commit who is one of the top defensive infielders in Arizona. Tunnell also shows an advanced plate approach with good on-base skills, and is a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts this season. C David Real provides good offensive production and solid defense behind the plate, he is currently hitting .448 on the season. 3B/RHP Cameron Brendel is hitting .351 with 13 RBIs through 13 games and picked up the Win on the mound with six innings of work yesterday. Brendel and Real will be college teammates at Glendale Community College next season, and they will be joined by OF/LHP Chase Wagner, who has a pair of Home Runs on the young season.
If you are unable to watch the live stream on Cox 7's website, be sure to follow @TGold_PG on twitter for in-game updates. The full recap will be posted on the Perfect Game website on Friday.