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Key West Represents At National High School Invitational

The Conchs went 2-2 at the National High School Invitational at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

You can find Key West Conchs fans wherever you go, anywhere in the country. There just may be some new fans out there now, after the exciting baseball the team delivered this week at the National High School Invitational at the National Spring Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Key West split its four games with a 2-2 record against the toughest baseball teams from around the country.

The highlight action of the trip came in a walk-off, 4-3 win over Apex Friendship, North Carolina, in the team’s third game. Key West then took care of business with a 9-5 win over Chaparral, Arizona, to conclude their slate of games.

The Conchs (10-11) were defeated by Harvard-Westlake, California, in game one, and also lost to Wesleyan Christian, North Carolina, in their second game. Corona, California, won the overall championship with a 3-0 decision over Orange Lutheran, California.

The Conchs on the field prior to the start of action.

Rather than crawl into the corner to lick its wounds after taking two losses, Key West showed the mettle that is a staple of its program by delivering its best game of the tournament. The Conchs received a complete-game performance from Jacob Burnham, who held the Apex Friendship Patriots to four hits and three walks in seven innings. Burnham struck out seven, raising his season total to 57 strikeouts in 49 innings.

The Conchs took control early, before the Patriots answered back with three runs in the sixth that tied things back up and set up the ending dramatics. Caden Pichardo started his big offensive day by drawing a walk and later scoring the opening run on a sac-fly RBI from Anthony Lariz in the bottom of the second. The Conchs added two more runs an inning later, as Auggy Davila walked and Steel Mientkiewicz was hit by a pitch, and Pichardo delivered an RBI single that plated Davila. An error allowed Mientkiewicz to also score, a run that proved quite valuable after Apex Friendship rallied for three in the sixth.

It was Mientkiewicz who was again at the plate to deliver in the final, critical moment in the bottom of the seventh. After two quick outs, Nelson Ong looped a single into right field to keep the inning alive. With the count at 2-1, Mientkiewicz put the ball in play and reached on an error that allowed Nelson to round third and race home for the winning run and a walk-off celebration with his teammates.

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