Tournaments : : Story
Harvard-Westlake advances at NHSI
Friday, March 29, 2013
Also see: 2013 NHSI Scout Blogs
With Loss of Two First-Rounders,
Pitching Still Dominant
N.C.—California’s Harvard-Westlake High could be excused if it
didn’t have enough frontline pitching to be competitive in this
year’s National High School Invitational. After all, the Wolverines
lost two first-round arms to the 2012 draft.
Harvard-Westlake (12-2) has spun shutouts in every game over the
first three days of the 16-team NHSI to move on to Saturday’s
championship game for the second straight year. The team’s latest
dominant pitching performance came Friday in a 6-0, semi-final win
over Venice (Fla.) High, ranked third nationally in Perfect Game’s
ranking of the Top 50 high-school teams.
Hans Hansen was not overpowering with a fastball that peaked in the
mid-80s, but tossed a three-hitter and never allowed a Venice runner
beyond second base. He walked two and struck out five.
Harvard-Westlake’s two earlier tournament games, sophomore
righthander Jack Flaherty threw a route-going three-hitter with no
walks and 13 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over Eustis (Fla.) High on
Wednesday, and senior righthander Conor Cuse tossed a four-hitter
with a walk and eight strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Bingham (Utah)
High on Thursday.
year ago, Harvard-Westlake’s vaunted pitching staff included the
likes of lefthander Max Fried, who was taken by the San Diego Padres
with the seventh overall selection in the draft, and righthander
Lucas Giolito, who was chosen with the 16th overall pick
by the Washington Nationals. They were a formidable pair and
represented two of the highest set of teammates ever drafted off one
high-school pitching staff.
it turned out, Giolito did not pitch in the 2012 NHSI, played at USA
Baseball’s national training center, because of a sprained ulnar
collateral ligament in his right elbow, which later required Tommy
John surgery, and his departure, along with Fried, left what appeared
to be a gaping hole on the front end of this year’s
Flaherty, Cuse and Hansen have more than filled the void for the
Wolverines here this week.
6-foot-4, 210-pound Flaherty, who has evolved into the team’s No. 1
starter in the absence of Fried and Giolito, topped out at 89 mph in
spinning his shutout. He is viewed as a top prospect for the 2014
draft, but most scouts see Flaherty’s upside more as a corner
infielder than as a pitcher. Neither Cuse nor Hansen has attracted
much attention from scouts this week, though Cuse, in particular, has
made significant strides this spring as a pitching prospect, and
topped out at 87 Thursday.
meanwhile, worked primarily with a fastball in the 83-85 mph range
Friday, but kept Venice High hitters off balance throughout with his
ability to command his off-speed stuff, especially his slider. A day
earlier, a Venice lineup with six Division I recruits had little
trouble handling California’s top-ranked team, No. 2 Cathedral
Catholic High, 7-3, in a quarter-final contest.
Hansen also tossed a shutout for Harvard-Westlake in its semi-final
game a year ago against another highly-rated team from Florida,
Plantation’s American Heritage High.
matter who is on your staff, you never think of ever pitching three
straight shutouts coming into a tournament, especially one of this
stature,” Wolverines coach Matt LaCour said, “but I think what
happened last year, with Lucas going down, was really a blessing in
disguise for us as it thrust Hans into a role he was unaccustomed to,
and he really stepped up and responded. He was so much better
prepared to pitch today because of his performance here last year.
not sure what it is with him, but for some reason he just seems to
like pitching here in North Carolina.”
shutout a year ago propelled the Wolverines into the championship
game, which they eventually lost 3-2 in extra innings to California
rival Mater Dei High, and there is a chance the two California teams
could meet again in this year’s final as Mater Dei entered play
Friday undefeated and in position again to advance to the
Dei must first beat The Woodlands (Texas) High, the nation’s
top-ranked team, in the other semi-final, scheduled later in the day.
Harvard-Westlake is ranked seventh nationally by PG, and Mater Dei
who might draw Saturday’s starting assignment in Harvard-Westlake’s
bid for a fourth straight shutout (and tournament championship),
LaCour said he didn’t have an obvious choice as his team, not
unexpectedly, had pretty much run out of experienced arms.
staff is a little thin at this point,” LaCour said. “We’ve been
fortunate—and also unfortunate, to a degree, I guess—in that we
haven’t had to use our other pitchers much so far this season,
though we have three or four kids that we can pick from. We’ll
contemplate tonight who we’ll use and find out tomorrow just what
we’ve got left.”
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