In a pitchers’ duel, all it takes is one pitch to make the difference.
Just ask Newport Harbor High shortstop John Olmstead, who connected on a two-run home run in the top of the third inning.
That one swing was all pitcher Kelly Austin needed.
Austin threw a four-hitter to lead the Sailors to a 2-1 victory at Fountain Valley in Friday’s Sunset Conference crossover game.
Austin fell behind in the first inning. Fountain Valley shortstop Sebastian Murillo’s double moved Tito Sanchez to third base, and Sanchez scored on grounder to third by Nick Horn.
Austin would get into a jam in the next inning before leaving two runners stranded. He proceeded to retire the next 14 batters to help the Sailors improve to 5-1 overall.
“I love this,” said Austin, who struck out six and walked one. “It fires me up. These 2-1 wins, these close games, this is what I live for. We are a battling team and we want these type of wins. We are coming after people.”
Barons starting pitcher Jake Brooks was in a battle with Austin, but with Lucas Baia on, the USC-bound Olmstead was ready for Brooks.
After missing on Brooks' fastball, Olmstead hit a slider over the left-field fence to give the Sailors the lead.
“I swung through a fastball on the first pitch,” Olmstead said. “I was looking off-speed because that is what they throw to me after a fastball. I was looking for a slider and I got one and I got a good swing off it.”
Olmstead’s homer was the only extra-base hit for the Sailors, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 poll.
“This was a very close game,” Newport Harbor coach Chalmers said. “They came out with high energy and their pitcher was throwing really hard. They got a run in the first inning and it deflated us a little bit, but Kelly kept at it. We know we have strong hitters, but I didn’t anticipate the ball leaving the yard. We got a runner on and John has some kind of power. If you challenge him, he can launch the ball and he certainly did that.”
Newport Harbor would only get one more hit the rest of the game. Brooks, a UCLA commit, threw five innings, striking out five while giving up three hits and a walk.
Luke Bundensen threw two innings of relief for Fountain Valley (3-5). He struck out three and allowed one hit.
The Barons threatened in the final inning. Connor Bennett, who went two for three, singled to left. Evan Sheeks came in as a pinch-runner, only to be left on first base to end the game.
“You have to give Austin a lot of credit,” Fountain Valley coach Deric Yanagisawa said. “He did a great job mixing in a breaking ball near the end of the game, and he did a really great job of keeping us off balance. We just didn’t do a good enough job of making adjustments as a group. We had a great first inning and we took some good swings off of Kelly, but as the game went on, it just seemed like [we] put ourselves to sleep. We never really squared up any baseballs.