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Huntington Beach High pitcher Ben Jacobs gains maturity, commits to UC Irvine baseball

Huntington Beach High junior left-handed pitcher Ben Jacobs has committed to UC Irvine for baseball.
Huntington Beach High junior left-handed pitcher Ben Jacobs has committed to UC Irvine for baseball.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Ben Jacobs started the summer baseball game by walking the first two batters, then he looked to his dugout for help.

Was this the incoming sophomore left-handed pitcher who was supposed to contribute to the Huntington Beach High baseball team? Longtime coach Benji Medure wasn’t sure.

“I yanked him out of the game,” Medure said. “I’m just like, ‘I’m done with you, man. You’re not pitching for us.’ I basically wrote him off.”

Jacobs had the stuff but lacked confidence and maturity, Medure said, in the summer of 2019. Perhaps some of that was adjusting to pitching at the varsity level for Jacobs, a former star in Huntington Valley Little League. Perhaps some of that was out of his control.

Jacobs lacked male role models in his life. That can happen when you have two mothers, like he does.

His mothers, Karynne and Perri, have been together for 21 years. They got married in 2014, when it became legal to do so. Ben Jacobs has three older stepsiblings from Perri’s previous marriage, including two stepbrothers. Ben himself was born through artificial insemination from an anonymous donor, Karynne said.

The family atmosphere that Medure has led the Oilers with for the last two decades means even more to someone like Ben Jacobs.

“Perri and I are very grateful for all of the incredible male role model coaches he has had,” Karynne Jacobs said.

Most importantly, Ben has put in the work. Just more than a year later, he has also made his college choice. Now a junior, he recently verbally committed to the UC Irvine baseball program.

With Medure still having reservations, Jacobs never made it to the varsity team last spring as a sophomore. But he did become a top option on junior varsity, where he pitched a no-hitter against JSerra on March 4. He was lined up to be the junior varsity starting pitcher in the Oilers’ first Surf League game against Edison, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Since it did, Jacobs never stopped working. He has trained with Josh Reidt in Costa Mesa a few times a week since May, and his fastball now sits at 85-86 miles per hour, topping out at 88.

Former professional pitcher Blake Hawksworth, who threw for the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11, is Jacobs’ current pitching coach.

“My goal is to try to touch a nine, 89 or 90, by December,” said Jacobs, who has grown into a 6-foot tall, 180-pound frame. “If someone saw me at the beginning at sophomore year, they would not expect me to be where I am now.”

Huntington Beach High junior left-handed pitcher Ben Jacobs was the Oilers' top junior varsity pitcher last spring.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

UC Irvine checks all of the boxes for Jacobs, who was recently an all-tournament team selection at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Assn. World Championship in Florida earlier this month.

“It was already in my top three schools, before I even knew they were interested in me,” he said. “The coaches [including head coach Ben Orloff, 33, an Anteaters alumnus who helped lead the team to the 2007 College World Series and its first Big West Conference title in 2009] are young. They’re some of the younger coaches in college baseball, and I can really relate to them.”

Life is good nowadays for Jacobs. The family roots for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have made it to the World Series for the third time in four years.

They also root for Ben, who has grown into the promise he showed in those Huntington Valley Little League days when he was coached by men like Keith Kaub.

Kaub, who played first base at Cal State Fullerton during the 1980s, would certainly have been proud of how far Ben Jacobs has come. Kaub died last year at age 55 after a heart attack.

Jacobs helped Huntington Valley Little League beat favored Ocean View 2-1 in a District 62 Majors Division All-Stars semifinal game in 2017. He went 5 1/3 innings as the starting pitcher.

He said he wants to possibly be a baseball announcer on television in the future. Stories like his will always remain ripe for the telling.

“It’s a good story in the sense that he was buried,” Medure said. “We buried him because he was immature … and to his credit, he really did change. He changed his work ethic, he changed how he was as a leader, he changed how he was as a teammate, and now he is where he is. I’m proud of how far he’s come.”

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