CARY, N.C. -- Ty Moore knew as soon as the ball came off of his best friend’s bat that the game was over. There was still the little matter of running home, touching the plate, leaping in the air, throwing off his helmet and sprinting toward the rapidly forming celebratory dogpile near the mound, but all that was epilogue to the moment of victory.
Moore scored the winning run Saturday as Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.), 3-2, in extra innings in the inaugural USA Baseball National High School Invitational.
The Monarchs’ star RHP/OF, and the No. 98 prospect in the ESPN 100, Moore reached first on a misplayed ball in the bottom of the eighth. He then stole second, went to third on a botched pickoff attempt and came home when Ryan Barr cracked a single over his head and into left field.
“I’m speechless,” Moore said. “To go out there and play a crazy game like that and to be the winning run hit in by your best friend? I mean, that’s the best feeling you could ever have in your life.”
Moore also picked up the win, his second in four games, throwing four innings of scoreless relief. He looked tired toward the end and admitted he was running on adrenaline — but there was still no way he was giving up the ball.
“Coach asked me, ‘How you feeling?’ And I said, ‘Good. Don’t take me out,’" Moore said. "And he goes, 'I wasn’t thinking about it.' And I said, ‘No, coach, even if it’s like the 20th inning don’t take me out. It’s my game.’”
In many ways, it was Moore’s tournament. On Thursday, the UCLA signee jacked a three-run homer in addition to picking up the win on the mound, and Friday he went 1-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, plus some highlight-reel plays in the outfield.
“He has this desire to win and he puts it out there on the line every pitch; he’s that type of guy,” said Mater Dei coach Burt Call. “He’s an amazing baseball player.”
Harvard-Westlake first baseman Joe Corrigan doubled to open the game and came around to score on catcher Arden Pabst’s two-bagger. The Wolverines went up 2-0 in the top of the third when Max Fried drove home Casey Rosenfield, who had doubled to start the frame.
The Monarchs had only hit one home run entering the tournament but found the long ball when they needed it. Moore homered on Thursday, and the Monarchs got on the board Saturday in the bottom of the fourth when junior cleanup hitter Ryan McMahon went yard.
Then with one out in the bottom of the seventh, junior Davis Tominaga crushed a Brandon Deere offering over the right field fence to even the game at 2-2.
“I was just trying to help my team any way I could,” Tominaga said. “I don’t mind the home run, though. It was awesome.”
Like Moore, Tominaga had a huge tournament, limiting POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) to just three runs in a complete-game effort on Wednesday. He also pitched an inning of scoreless relief on Saturday.
Deere, who didn’t allow a hit through the first three frames, pitched seven strong innings and nearly became the fourth different Wolverine pitcher to toss a complete game in as many days. He was lifted in the eighth — the first time Harvard-Westlake had utilized a relief pitcher all tournament.
While only one team went home smiling, both had reason to be proud of what they accomplished at this elite showcase, which featured 16 national powerhouse programs. Ultimately, though, it came down to two squads from Southern California. No surprise there.
“We kind of feel like in Southern California we play the best brand of baseball in the nation,” Harvard-Westlake coach Matt LaCour said prior to the game. “And there’s other great teams out there and I’m not taking anything away from them, (but) on a daily basis you get tested in Southern California.”
This was certainly a test for both teams. For Mater Dei, it was the first tourney game in which they’d trailed for any substantial amount of time, while Harvard-Westlake was coming off a draining 1-0, nine-inning semifinal win 20 hours earlier. On top of that, both teams endured a three-hour rain delay before the title tilt began.
Mater Dei, which entered the season ranked No. 2 in the FAB 50 but had fallen out of the rankings prior to the event, beat No. 1 Bishop Gorman and No. 2 Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) the first two days of the tournament, then two of the best representatives from Florida (American Heritage) and California (Harvard-Westlake) in the next two days.
“I think we’ve proven that we’ve played quality competition,” Call said. “I think we’ve proven ourselves nationwide this week.”
So did Westlake. Missing the nation’s top player in RHP Lucas Giolito, who is out for the season with an injury, the Wolverines got players to step up time and time again, particularly on the mound.
“I don’t think many people gave us a shot in extra innings against Mater Dei on the fourth day of a tournament without Lucas being with us,” LaCour said, “so that’s a credit to the guys that are on the field, that are doing the job. They have stepped up every bit of the way.”