CARY, N.C. -- After Thursday's marathon finale between Milton (Georgia) and The Woodlands (Texas), the semifinals for the second annual National High School Invitational are set. Those who followed the tournament a year ago will notice a familiar tone.
The two teams that met in the 2012 championship game are on the same path again. Harvard-Westlake, last year's runner-up, will play Venice High School in the first semi. The SoCal and Florida teams will meet at noon ET. The 2012 champions, Mater Dei, will play The Woodlands at 3:45 p.m. ET. Both games will be streamed live from USA Baseball's National Training Complex on usabaseball.com.
Mater Dei catcher Jeremy Martinez, a veteran of USA Baseball, is the lone representative of MLB.com's Top 50 Draft prospects still playing for a trophy, but he isn't the only Draft-eligible player on the four 2-0 teams. Martinez's teammate, third baseman Ryan McMahon, is a solid prospect who had a big double on Thursday. Former big leaguer Craig Grebeck's son, Austin, is another 2013 graduate who hits leadoff for Mater Dei. Another senior, Davis Tominaga, was a hero both with his arm and his bat, in the 2012 NHSI.
Harvard-Westlake's top seniors are catcher Arden Pabst and first baseman Joe Corrigan, but the best player on the team is 2014 prospect Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty struck out 13 in his start on Wednesday and will play third for the remainder of the tournament.
Venice's top Draft prospect is outfielder Nick Longhi, though he hasn't seen many pitches to hit so far here. He did score two runs in Venice's 7-3 win over Cathedral Catholic to get to the semifinals. Fellow 2013 grad Colton Lightner has gone 3-for-6 in two games.
The Woodlands got a standout performance from senior Ryan Burnett on Thursday morning to get them to their second-round game Thursday afternoon (High school teams in Texas aren't allowed to play games on Wednesday). They have five players with Division I commitments, but it might be their first baseman, junior Chris Andritsos, who has the most potential. They are bound to be tired after their 14-inning, 9-8 victory over Milton in the quarterfinal.