National High School Invitational: Trickery, controversy bite Columbus High Blue Devils in loss to Orange Lutheran

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 29, 2012 

CARY, N.C. -- A little trickery helped Orange (Calif.) Lutheran pull off a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Columbus High in the opening round of the National High School Invitational.

Down 1-0 in the top of the sixth inning, Columbus got a one-out double to left field by Hunter Swilling. Left fielder Jason Martin threw the ball back to second baseman Travis Blue.

Blue kept the ball instead of throwing it back to pitcher Art Vidrio and when Swilling stepped off second base, Blue tagged him out.

"That is something our second baseman has had in his back pocket, something he has picked up over the years," Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba said. "He does it in practice. He works on it all the time. It is tough to exactly get correct. It is practice and repetition and it worked today."

But the play came with controversy as the field umpire standing just a few feet away called Swilling safe. Orange Lutheran (11-2 and ranked No. 6 by Baseball America) complained and after a discussion between the home plate umpire and the field umpire, the home-plate umpire called Swilling out.

"I have never seen a home plate umpire make that call," Columbus coach Bobby Howard said. "Usually when the base umpire blows it, they move on."

Columbus, which is ranked No. 3 in the latest espn.com poll (and No. 20 in Baseball America) after starting the season 12-0, suffered its first loss. Starting pitcher Kyle Carter was tagged with the loss. He gave up just the one run on six hits, only one of which was hard hit. He also picked off three base runners.

"We really wasted a great pitching performance by Carter," Howard said. "But their guy pitched well too."

Vidrio gave up just four hits, one in each of the last four innings.

"It was unbelievable," Borba said. "It was just a gritty win. We really didn't play that well, really, to be honest. We didn't do a whole lot right except on the mound."

Columbus was forced to play without shortstop JT Phillips after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back.

Carter hit the first batter he faced, Conner Sullivan. After two straight groundouts, Sullivan was at third. Tommy Bell singled just past a diving third baseman Spencer Draws for a 1-0 lead.

Columbus' first hit didn't come until there were two outs in the fourth. Pierce Ressmeyer singled to left, but Vidrio struck out Josh Lester to end the inning.

Ryan Lang doubled with two outs in the fifth, but Vidrio struck out Keith Sims to end that threat.

Cody Nulph relieved Vidrio to start the seventh as Borba said Vidrio ''ran out of gas.''

Lester got a leadoff single, but he was erased on a game-ending double play.

"We didn't swing it. That limits what you can do," Howard said.

Columbus falls into the consolation part of the tournament, which is being played at the USA Baseball Training Center. The Blue Devils play at 5:30 p.m. today against the loer of this morning's Sarasota (Fla.) vs. Lee County (N.C.) game.

Wednesday at Cary, N.C.

Columbus 000 000 0--0 4 0

Orange L. 100 000 x--1 6 2

WP--Art Vidrio (4-0). LP--Kyle Carter (NA). Leading hitters: Columbus Kyle Carter 0-3, Hunter Swilling 1-3, 2B; Spencer Draws 0-1; Pierce Ressmeyer 1-3, Josh Lester 1-3, Tony Dalponte 0-3, Anthony Padron 0-3, Ryan Lang 1-2, 2B, Keith Sims 0-2. Orange Lutheran Conner Sullivan 0-1, R; Dalton Frize 2-3, Cody Nulph 0-3, Tommy Bell 1-2, RBI; Jason Martin 0-3, Josh Morgan 2-2, Travis Blue 0-3, Matt Stumme 0-2, Matt Carlson 1-2. Records: Columbus 12-1. Orange Lutheran 11-2.

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