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Huntington Beach baseball blanks Bishop Amat to advance to CIF quarterfinals

Aidan Espinoza (9) exults after he and teammate Ralph Velazquez (24) score two runs against Bishop Amat on Tuesday.
Huntington Beach’s Aidan Espinoza (9) exults after he and teammate Ralph Velazquez (24) score two runs during the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs against Bishop Amat on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A nervous beginning turned into a lopsided win Tuesday afternoon for the Huntington Beach High baseball team.

Everybody hit, and the Oilers used five shutout innings from senior left-handed ace Ben Jacobs to cruise to a 13-0 win over La Puente Bishop Amat in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs at Huntington Beach High.

No. 4-seeded Huntington Beach (21-8) will play at Foothill in a Division 1 quarterfinal game Friday. The Knights got past Santa Margarita 5-4 in another second-round game.

Huntington Beach used a powerful offensive attack from the top of its lineup against Bishop Amat (22-7), the second-place team from the Del Rey League. The Oilers’ first four batters — juniors Aidan Espinoza, Ralph Velazquez and Brian Trujillo and freshman Trent Grindlinger — went a combined 11 for 13 on Tuesday with six runs batted in.

Catcher Antonio Ventimiglia of Huntington Beach tags out Bishop Amat baserunner Brenden Rodriguez at home plate Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Surf League champion Oilers, playing their first game in 11 days, overcame what coach Benji Medure said was a “terrible” pregame and a rocky top of the first inning. Jacobs walked two batters in the top of the first, and also hit two Amat batters. But he was able to pick the leadoff hitter off first base, and he got out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Isaiah Hernandez.

“Everything was a cutter, and he was running it off the plate,” Medure said. “He didn’t have any feel at first, but he got his rhythm and figured it out. It was big to get out of it. We took a breath, got a couple of runs and then we felt like we were back in our rhythm.”

Espinoza hit a sharp single back up the middle on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning, and the host Oilers were in business. They scored three runs in the first, and four runs in both the second and third innings to stake Jacobs to an 11-0 lead.

“That’s our job as an offense, just to help our pitcher out,” said Grindlinger, a Long Beach State commit who finished three for three with a double and three runs batted in. “He’s been doing great all year, and previously we haven’t really been able to help him out that much. He’s been doing his job and doing everything well, but it was a big win today for us today with the offense. Everything’s starting to kick in, and we’re really starting to come together as a team.”

Pitcher Ben Jacobs of Huntington Beach throws in the first inning against Bishop Amat on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Jacobs, bound for UCLA, improved to 8-1 this season. He allowed just three hits, walking two batters, hitting three and striking out seven. It was a big performance against a Bishop Amat team that came into Tuesday’s contest on a nine-game winning streak, including a 4-1 win over Ocean View in the first round of the playoffs.

The visitors nearly scored in the bottom of the second, as Brenden Rodriguez came home after Frankie Peralez’s single. But Rodriguez was tagged out by Huntington Beach senior catcher Antonio Ventimiglia after a strong throw by Espinoza.

Daniel Marquez finished two for three for the Lancers, the only player to register more than one hit.

Trent Grindlinger of Huntington Beach belts a double during Tuesday's game against Bishop Amat.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Ventimiglia was one for two with a double, sacrifice fly and two RBIs for the winners. Sophomore Tony Martinez was two for three with a double and RBI, while junior Brad Navarro drew a walk and would later come around to score.

Even the substitutes were hitting for the Oilers. Owen Glascoe led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left, and Will Bennett followed an out later with a single to left. Both were brought home on a two-out double to right by Colby Turner.

Nate Cox also had a double for Huntington Beach.

“You trust everyone on the team,” said Velazquez, who is committed to Arizona State. “There’s never a doubt. We have 32 kids on our team, so we trust one through 32 in any situation.”

Antonio Ventimiglia of Huntington Beach claps toward his dugout after hitting a double against Bishop Amat on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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