HUNTINGTON BEACH – Huntington Beach scored four runs in the first inning then battled Corona del Mar all the way to the last inning to collect a 6-5 victory Wednesday in a nonleague baseball game at Huntington Beach High.
The Oilers (9-2), ranked No. 3 in Orange County, strung together several hits in the first inning to grab a 4-0 lead, but then had to withstand a comeback by the No. 16 Sea Kings (7-2-1). A solo home run by Nick Rottler cut the Oilers’ lead to 6-5 in the seventh, but Huntington Beach secured the victory after that.
“We love exploding out of the gate really early,” said Huntington Beach senior Josh Hahn, a UCLA commit. “We love to smash the ball all over the place. That’s what we do best early on. We are just a tough team, we battled all the way through and we never give up.”
The Oilers got the bats going in the first inning with a single by leadoff hitter Cole Minato. Minato scored on a double to the center field wall by Hahn. Hahn then scored on a double to center by Brett Barerra, and Barerra scored on a double to center by Jag Burden that made it 3-0.
Burden scored on two passed balls by the Sea Kings to make it 4-0.
Corona del Mar starting pitcher Jarrett Thompson got his control back after the first and the Sea Kings (7-2-1) began to make a comeback in the fourth inning. That’s when Carter Haight slugged a two-run home run to left field to cut the Oilers’ lead to 4-2.
The Oilers scored two runs in the bottom half of the fourth to make it 6-2. Hahn drove in another run with a fly ball to right, and Jake Vogel drove in a run with a single to left.
“The key was the way we started,” Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said. “When we start fast at home, we are tough to beat. I just wish we would have continued to play the game. We shut it down after that.
“We had opportunities to score and to put the game away. We played with and we toyed with them. You can’t do that against them.”
The Oilers got into trouble in the fifth inning when starter Dylan Ramirez and Shane Stafford walked five batters, which brought in two runs.
In the seventh, the Sea Kings made 6-5 with Rottler’s solo home run to center, but Jordan Vance recorded the final out to earn the save for the Oilers.
“They hit the ball really well in the first inning,” CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “You have to give them credit for that. They hit the ball hard and knocked in those four runs. That was the difference of the game, but I love the way we battled. Things could have gone the wrong way real quick. Our guys battled back with two big home runs in big situations. I’m happy with the way we played.”
Thompson pitched four innings, struck out three and gave up nine hits and six runs. Corona del Mar will be at Marina on Friday for its Wave League opener.
Minato went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Burden went 2 for 3, while Ramirez pitched four innings, struck out four and allowed five hits as he earned the win. Huntington Beach will play its Surf League opener at home against Fountain Valley on Friday.