In a battle between two high school baseball powerhouses, St. Johns Country Day School lost to Stoneman Douglas by a score of 5-3 on Saturday in the title game of the 2022 USA Baseball National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C.
It was the first time both finalists were from Florida in the North Carolina tournament that pits elite teams from across the United States. California had nine consecutive years with a team in the title game.
It was the first NHSI title for Stoneman Douglas. Chris Arroyo of the Stoneman Douglas Eagles was named tournament MVP. Arroyo picked up the save in the Eagles’ championship victory over the Spartans.
St. Johns Country Day in Orange Park had two players named to the All-Tournament team: Brad Hodges and Jordan Taylor. St. Johns Country Day was only the second area team ever invited to the national tournament.
USA Baseball had this to say about Hodges’ performance:
“Brad Hodges was impressive both on the mound and at the plate for the NHSI runners-up, batting .500 (6-for-12) with a homer and posting a 3.15 ERA. The southpaw got his tournament started in a big way against Servite, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing just three earned runs while striking out nine. He also added a hit and two RBIs in the win. Hodges continued to hit in the following game, going 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in a quarterfinal win over Don Bosco. The two-way star had a hit and scored a run in the Spartans’ championship game loss to Stoneman Douglas, giving him a tournament-best 10 total bases.”
USA Baseball wrote this about Taylor’s performance:
“St. Johns Country Day’s Jordan Taylor was named to the NHSI All-Tournament Team after finishing the event with a .385 batting average, five runs scored, and a tournament-leading (T-1) four stolen bases (4-for-4). He began the tournament with a 3-for-4 day against Servite, scoring two runs. Taylor scored another two runs, stole two bases, and tallied an RBI in the quarterfinal victory over Don Bosco Prep and went 1-for-3 with a run scored, a walk, and stolen base in the championship game.”
The baseball game was a see-saw battle in the early innings, with the Eagles taking an early 3-0 lead and then the Spartans tying the score in the top half of the third inning with the help of errors by Stoneman Douglas.
The Eagles retook the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Then scored another run two innings later to make it 5-3.
The Spartans had their chances in the later innings, including a bases-loaded situation in the sixth inning. After coming in to pitch in relief, Arroyo threw a wild pitch but then the Eagles caught a huge break. The ball bounced off the backstop to the Eagles catcher who threw out a baserunner.
In the seventh inning, the Spartans continued to battle, getting a lead-off single. But Arroyo was able to retire the next three batters to seal the win.
Seven different batters recorded hits for St. Johns Country Day in the game.
The Eagles became the first team from Florida to win the NHSI title since 2014 when The First Academy in Orlando won against Clovis High School of Clovis, Calif.