HUNTINGTON BEACH — Newport Harbor High is on spring break, yet it sure doesn't feel like it for the baseball team.
For the second time in three days, the Sailors played Huntington Beach, the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll. And for the second time, the Oilers shut Newport Harbor out.
The host Oilers won, 4-0, and improved to 7-0 in Sunset League play. They got a head start to their spring break, which is next week.
The spring break for the Sailors ends this week. They caught no breaks, and they sure didn't help themselves at the plate, on the bases, or on the mound.
The timely hits never came for the Sailors with runners in scoring position. A lapse on the bases also affected the Sailors' chances of scoring. With runners on first and second and no outs, a runner was thrown out at third base in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom half of the fifth, with runners on the corners, a balk allowed the Oilers to take a 3-0 lead.
"Sometimes you beat yourself," said Newport Harbor Coach Evan Chalmers, whose team quickly finds itself with two straight setbacks, a week after winning its first two leagues games of the season.
The next four games for the Sailors (8-6, 2-5 in league) won't be against anyone from league, and that's a good thing to Chalmers. His team wrapped up the first part of league in fourth place.
"It will be nice to take a breath of fresh air and play four different teams," said Chalmers, referring to the upcoming Beach Pit Classic, a four-day tournament that starts Saturday with Newport Harbor playing host to Irvine at 11 a.m. "[We want to] get some of the players that have been working hard during practice into some of the ballgames, and kind of regroup as a team."
Chalmers plans to take Friday off and spend time with his family. Before he does, he said he would show up to Newport Harbor to unlock the field and let his players work on things like their swings.
The bats never came alive for the Sailors with runners on in five innings against starter Noah Davis and one inning against reliever Hagen Danner. Clay Morris pitched the seventh, but he retired the side in order, making it 15 straight innings in which Huntington Beach has blanked the Sailors.
Two out of the Oilers' three wins against Newport Harbor have gone to Davis (6-0), the ace on the staff. The UC Santa Barbara-bound commit, who allowed eight hits with no walks, got some help early from Jesse Kuet in the form of his glove and bat.
Kuet, who's bound for Stanford, made an unbelievable play in the first inning. The shortstop dived to his left for the ball, fielding it up the middle, before tossing it to second baseman Jarrett Anton. Just like that, the Oilers turned a double play.
Before Kuet led off for the Oilers, Davis mowed down UC Irvine-bound senior Shaun Vetrovec for the first of his four strikeouts. The first offering Kuet received from Cal State Fullerton-bound pitcher Connor Seabold the senior pulled it over the left-field fence for his first home run of the season.
"That really allowed us to be loose and not press at the plate," said Huntington Beach Coach Benji Medure, whose lineup produced just six hits, but four went for extra bases. "Noah kind of felt like he could be aggressive in the zone [after that homer], so that's what made the day a lot easier."
Every time the Oilers (11-2 overall) led off with a hit, they scored at least a run. Kuet's homer in the first, followed up by Cooper Moore's double down the right-field line in the second inning, when Logan Pouelsen drove Moore home with a double in the gap in right-center field.
Kuet began the fifth with a double down the third-base line, and he eventually came home. Seabold's balk was the reason why the Oilers took a 3-0 lead. Then Moore, who went two for three, hit a two-out single up the middle to bring in a run, ending Seabold's outing. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits, while striking out four and walking four.
Seabold (3-3), who went three for four at the plate, didn't get much help. The Sailors stranded a runner on third base in the second inning, runners on second and third in the third inning, runners on first and second in the fourth inning, a runner on third in the fifth inning, and the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
The Sailors either grounded out or struck out in those situations. Danner, who loaded the bases by giving up a double to Tk McWhertor, hitting Jake Norton and walking Cameron Jabara, picked up the biggest strikeout in the sixth.
"It was scary, but that was a freshman on the mound right there showing some poise [with the bases jammed]," said Medure, whose team opens the Hard 9 National Classic against Wildomar Elsinore on Monday at Esperanza High at 10 a.m. "There's a lot of teams that we don't know anything about in this tournament from other [California cities and] states [in the country]. It will be a good challenge, just to not play against your friends and your cross-town rival, and just playing a team that you don't know nothing about is going to be a relief for sure."
The only relief for the Sailors during spring break comes in the form of not having to see the Oilers again in league.
Huntington Beach 4, Newport Harbor 0
SCORE BY INNINGS
Newport 000 000 0 – 0 9 1
Huntington 110 020 x – 4 6 1
Seabold, Ogburn (5) and McWhertor; Davis, Danner (6), Morris (7) and Murray. W – Davis, 6-0. L – Seabold, 3-3. 2B – McWhertor (NH), Moore (HB), Pouelsen (HB), Kuet (HB). HR – Kuet (HB).