Huntington Beach baseball uses consistent attack to beat Edison

Trent Grindlinger during Surf League match-up with Edison on Tuesday.
Huntington Beach’s Trent Grindlinger stops at third after hitting a deep triple during Tuesday’s Surf League game at Edison.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

There was a time earlier this season when Huntington Beach High baseball juniors Ethan Porter and Trent Grindlinger were both struggling at the plate.

“They were making jokes like, ‘Hey, I’m hitting better than you now, you’re hitting .160 and I’m hitting .161,’” Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said. “But they’re heating up. When the big guys go, our offense rolls.”

This was the case as the Oilers’ bats came alive in a Surf League game Tuesday at Edison.

Porter and Grindlinger combined to go six for six with a pair of walks as Huntington Beach pulled away for an 8-3 victory.

Huntington Beach starting pitcher Nathan Aceves delivers against Edison on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Oilers, seeking their eighth straight league title, improved to 10-4 overall and 3-1 in league. Huntington Beach is ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.

Porter, the leadoff hitter who’s committed to Oregon State, was two for two with a double, two walks and three runs scored. Grindlinger, a Mississippi State commit, was just a home run short of the cycle, finishing four for four with two doubles, a triple and four runs batted in.

The Oilers have rebounded from back-to-back shutout losses to Marina and Fountain Valley on March 15 and 16, the latter game opening Surf League play, to record three league victories in a row.

Huntington Beach's Matt Hansen (31) is tagged out by Edison pitcher Noah Hunter (38) on Tuesday.
Huntington Beach’s Matt Hansen (31) is tagged out by Edison pitcher Noah Hunter (38) after he tried to take home after a wild pitch on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“We kind of went through a tough spot,” said Medure, who picked up his 400th career victory earlier this season. “I don’t know if it was bad luck, I don’t know what it was, but every time we hit a ball hard it was caught. I just don’t think we were having the competitive at-bats that we’re having now. We’re seeing the ball better, and people are starting to settle into their roles.”

Porter led off the game with a full-count double to center, and eventually came home on Grindlinger’s two-out single.

Edison (8-9, 0-2), which was promoted back up to the Surf League after winning the Wave League last season, responded in the bottom of the frame. Mason Gerhardt led off with an infield single, and Gavin Johnson drew a walk. After Cody Kruis reached on a bunt — the throw to third for a force out was offline for an error — Nathan Hunter smacked an RBI single to center.

But Huntington Beach senior starting pitcher Nathan Aceves earned two strikeouts and a foul out to get out of the jam.

Edison's Shane Timmons finds himself in a pickle as Huntington's Tony Martinez (13) runs him down on Tuesday.
Edison’s Shane Timmons finds himself in a pickle as Huntington’s Tony Martinez (13) runs him down on the third-base line during Tuesday’s game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“It just ran up his pitch count, and then by the third inning, his [velocity] was down,” Medure said. “He went from 92 to 88. We could have helped him, played better defense behind him in the first, but I thought he was pretty effective.”

Aceves exited in the fourth inning, and by then the Oilers had a 4-2 lead. Freshman left-handed pitcher Tanner Brown picked up the win, improving to 3-0 for Huntington Beach after firing two shutout innings in relief.

Medure said Brown wasn’t scared and called him a dart thrower. Grindlinger, who knows what it feels like to be a freshman on varsity, said he offers words of wisdom to this year’s pair of ninth-graders on the team — his younger brother Jared Grindlinger and Brown.

“It’s always a big moment,” Grindlinger said. “You’ve got to be able to slow it down. You’re there for a reason, you’ve got to have confidence in yourself. That’s what I try to remind them every day.”

Edison starting pitcher Noah Hunter (38) delivers a pitch against Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Jayton Greer had a single and a pai

r of RBIs for Huntington Beach, which scored in every inning except the fourth. The winners also received hits from Trevor Goldenetz, CJ Weinstein and Braedon Peterson-Cheek. Tony Martinez added two hits, including a double, and an RBI.

Still, Edison coach Nick Cappuccilli liked what he saw out of his sophomore starting pitcher, Noah Hunter, who lasted into the fourth inning.

“In the big situation, he wants to be there and compete, show everybody what he can do,” Cappuccilli said. “It’s fun when you have a natural competitor, you can put him in any big spot and he’s not scared, he’s not going to back down from anything. He stepped up really well for being against such a talented team like Huntington.”

The Huntington Beach bench erupts in cheers during Tuesday's Surf League game against Edison.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Cappuccilli said he has a young and inexperienced team this season, but the Chargers have proven competitive. Landon Veirs was two for three on Tuesday, with Shane Timmons smacking a double and Jordan Alvarez also recording a hit.

Huntington Beach hosts Los Alamitos (1-1 in league) on Thursday in continued league action, while Edison plays at Fountain Valley (2-2 in league).

The Barons earned a 4-1 home win over Los Alamitos on Tuesday, behind a strong outing by sophomore starting pitcher Billy Kutsch.

Edison right fielder Cody Kruis runs out room and into the fence trying to catch a hard-hit ball during Tuesday's game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)