After two years of Covid restrictions, the Orange Lutheran baseball team is ready to compete again at the National High School Invitational (NHSI) in Cary, North Carolina.
The Lancers return to Cary as three-peat champions, winning the national title in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Before the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, the Lancers were scheduled to return to Cary to defend their 2019 title. The NHSI was not held in 2021.
“Our kids are really excited to try and go back to win that title again, especially Karson Bowen since he was the only one on the team in 2019,” said Eric Borba, head coach.
The tournament features some of the best high school baseball teams from across the country and offers national exposure for players. Fellow California high schools Servite, Yucaipa, and Huntington Beach will join OLu at the USA Baseball National Training Complex for four days of competition.
Coach Borba is confident in the team's ability to win as they head east next week. “Going in, it’s probably the best team we’ve ever taken,” he says.
OLu opens the tournament against Hanover High School (Mechanicsville, VA) during the first round on April 6 at 7 AM Pacific. All games will be live-streamed by USA Baseball on YouTube or their website.
Game 1 vs Hanover High School
The Lancers defeated Hanover High School during the first round of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI) 6-3 on Wednesday morning. The three-peat champions quickly got things rolling as they got one run in the first inning and three runs in the second inning.
Orange Lutheran’s lead-off hitter Derek Curiel (2-4) started the Lancers offensively by doubling in the first inning. Mikey Romero had one of his two RBIs driving in Curiel on a sacrifice fly to give OLu the lead.
Ben Reiland had a 2 RBI double to stretch the Lancers lead in the second, and they would never look back.
Oliver Santos was brilliant on the mound throwing 4.2 innings striking out nine batters. Evan Miranda came out of the bullpen to strike out three in 1.1 innings of work.
Next is a quarterfinal matchup vs. Basic Academy at 4 PM Pacific time on Thursday. The game will be played on Coleman Field and can be watched by clicking here.
Game 2 vs Basic Academy (Quarterfinals)
During round two on Thursday night, the Lancers won against Basic Academy (Henderson, NV) with a final score of 2-0. This victory was the 18th straight NHSI for Orange Lutheran, dating back to 2014.
The Lancers had another successful pitching day as Louis Rodriguez threw a complete-game shutout striking out three batters.
In the first, Casey Borba quickly got things started with an RBI-double to score Karson Bowen.
The Lancers extended the lead in the 5th with a two-out rally. Richard Tejeda singled and moved over to second on a Derek Curiel bunt. Bowen hit an RBI single to score pinch-runner Sawyer Voortman to make it 2-0, which is where it would end.
Tomorrow, the Lancers advance to the semi-finals, competing against Marjory Stoneman High School at 6 PM. The matchup will take place on Coleman Field and can be watched here.
Game 3 vs Stoneman Douglas (Semifinals)
In the semifinals of the NHSI, the Lancers squared off against Stoneman Douglas (Florida). Both programs entered the game as top 25 teams per MaxPreps' national rankings.
After a scoreless first inning, Stoneman broke the deadlock with a run in the bottom of the 2nd. In the top half of the 3rd, the Lancers put a runner in scoring position but eventually left him on base.
Then Stoneman took over with a ten-run 3rd inning which expanded the lead to 11-0, which was the final. The Lancers 18 game win streak in the NHSI that spanned over four tournaments ended with the loss.
OLu still has one more game remaining in the tournament consolation bracket when they take on McQuaid Jesuit on Saturday morning.
Game 4 vs McQuaid Jesuit (Consolation Game)
On Saturday morning, OLu competed in their final game of the 2022 NHSI Tournament against McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, New York). The Lancers won the 7-3 in extra innings.
Derek Curiel led off the game with a bunt single. Karson Bowen then drew a walk which set up Casey Borba, who drove in both with a 2 RBI double. Soon after, Borba scored on a passed ball, giving the lancers a 3-0 lead.
After seven innings, the score was deadlocked at three, but it didn’t remain that way for long. Senior Sawyer Voortman ripped a bases-loaded three-run double that sealed the win.
Orange Lutheran had 13 hits. Chase Cummings, Curiel, and JJ Robles all had multi-hit games. Multiple pitchers were rotated into the game, but Colt Peterson closed it out, earning the win. Peterson threw 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing a pair of hits.
Orange Lutheran leaves the NHSI with an 18-3 record as they enter the final two weeks of the regular season.