Huntington Beach High baseball coach Benji Medure knew Corona del Mar would be a handful, and the Sea Kings proved him right Wednesday.
The Oilers fended off three separate CdM comeback attempts to win 6-5 in their Sunset Conference crossover game at home.
Huntington Beach first baseman Josh Hahn led his team with two runs batted in, going one for two with an RBI double and a sacrifice fly. Dylan Ramirez earned the win on the mound by going four innings and allowing two earned runs and striking out four.
CdM’s Carter Haight led the Sea Kings with a fourth-inning two-run home run.
The Oilers, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, improved to 9-2 overall, while the Sea Kings, No. 7 in Division 2, dropped to 7-2-1.
The Oilers jumped out to a four-run lead in the first inning. The UCLA-bound Hahn lined a double to right-center field, driving in Cole Minato, who led off with a single.
Two batters later, Oilers cleanup hitter Brett Barrera knocked home Hahn with a one-out double to center field. Jag Burden then drove home Barrera, a Stanford commit, with a single up the middle and moved to second on the throw home. Burden, headed to Cal, would eventually score on a wild pitch.
“We were just looking for first-pitch strikes,” Hahn said of the Oilers’ aggressive approach. “They were going to come after us and try to get ahead. We just love mashing balls early in counts. That’s what we do, get some gappers.”
CdM would not go quietly, breaking through in the fourth inning. After Sea Kings center fielder Matt DeCrona singled on a one-out line drive to left, Haight launched a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run homer, cutting the Oilers’ lead to 4-2.
Huntington Beach took its four-run lead back in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Minato, a Gonzaga commit, singled, moving Nick Upstill to third base, Hahn drove Upstill home on a long sacrifice fly to the right-field warning track. Then with Minato at third, UCLA commit Jake Vogel hit a loud single off the left-field wall, extending the Oilers’ lead to 6-2.
The Sea Kings showcased some Zen-like patience to claw back again in the fifth inning, forcing four consecutive walks to score their third run. They scored again on a fielder’s choice off the bat of San Diego State commit Reece Burger to bring the score to 6-4.
In the final inning, down to its final out, CdM catcher Nicholas Rottler pulled a solo home run to left field to bring the Sea Kings within a run. Berger followed that by drawing a walk, bringing the winning run to the plate, but Oilers reliever Jordan Vance struck out DeCrona to seal the 6-5 win for Huntington Beach.
Even with the loss, Sea Kings coach Kevin McCaffrey was encouraged by his team’s resilience. Next for CdM is a Wave League opener Friday at Marina, ranked No. 7 in Division 3, at 3:15 p.m.
“They hit the heck out of the ball that first inning,” McCaffrey said of the Oilers. “To score four runs, things could’ve gone bad for us right away. We shut them down in those middle innings, and we’re right there in the final inning with a guy on first and a chance to take the lead. It’s pretty neat how our guys battled back.”
The winning coach wasn’t quite so encouraged. Medure’s Oilers start Surf League play Friday at home against Fountain Valley at 3:15 p.m.