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Daily Pilot Baseball Dream Team: Josh Hahn exuded confidence at Huntington Beach

Daily Pilot Baseball Dream Team: Josh Hahn exuded confidence at Huntington Beach
Josh Hahn led Huntington Beach High to its fourth Sunset League championship in five years in 2018. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach High once again established itself as one of the premier high school baseball teams this past season, stringing together a dominant Sunset League title run and a 26-6 overall record with wins over some of the top teams in California.

It is only fitting that the Oilers’ best player, Josh Hahn, is the Daily Pilot Baseball Dream Team Player of the Year after excelling on the mound, in the field and at the plate in 2018.

As a junior, the UCLA commit batted .344 with five home runs and 23 runs batted in. Hahn also posted a .454 on-base percentage, a .583 slugging percentage and a 1.037 OPS, with eight doubles, 21 runs scored and 18 walks.

As a pitcher, the left-hander went 3-1 with two saves and a 1.88 earned-run average, striking out 41 batters and walking 13 in 37 1/3 innings.

Josh Hahn
Huntington Beach High's Josh Hahn, pictured throwing against Fountain Valley on April 27, finished 3-1 with two saves and a 1.88 earned-run average, striking out 41 batters and walking 13 in 37 1/3 innings. Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer

With numbers like these, it is easy to see why Hahn exudes a sense of confidence every time he steps on the field — something that Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure says rubs off on the rest of the team. It’s a trait that reminds the coach of two seniors from his 2017 team that have since been drafted and are currently working their way through the minor leagues.

“He brings the confidence,” Medure said of Hahn, who also played first base. “It’s contagious. It was the same with Nick Pratto and Hagen Danner. They just brought a confidence that they are going to be good for you each day [and] lead by example with their work ethic and how they get after it. Josh emulates them. He was around when they were seniors, so he kind of watched them go through it and he's doing the same thing. He's just one of those top-tier players, and his mentality really helps the team.”

Medure points to Hahn’s maturity — and in particular, his ability to handle failure — as his greatest area of growth this past season. Pratto, who was drafted 14th overall by the Kansas City Royals, and Danner, a second-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays, were two of the players that made an impact on Hahn when he first arrived on the varsity squad as a sophomore.

He brings the confidence. It’s contagious. It was the same with Nick Pratto and Hagen Danner. They just brought a confidence that they are going to be good ...

Benji Medure, Huntington Beach High coach

The senior duo greeted their new teammate with tough love, and were never hesitant to be critical. Hahn made the necessary adjustments, and as his coach is quick to note that “it turned out to be a better thing” than if he were met with open arms by the upperclassmen.”

“As an eighth-grader, you [don’t] fail all that much,” Medure said. “But when you get into high school, and especially in Southern California, where everyone is good, and scout ball and all that is so tough, you fail a lot. You understand that that's the game. I think that's what Hagen and Nick were on him about. Just how he went about his daily routine, and how he handled the adversity in baseball.”

Josh Hahn
Huntington Beach High's Josh Hahn hit .344 with five home runs and 23 runs batted in, and he posted a .454 on-base percentage, a .583 slugging percentage and a 1.037 OPS. Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer

A perfect example of Hahn’s growth in this area is evidenced in his response to the team’s heartbreaking loss at Goleta Dos Pueblos in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs on May 22.

The No. 2 seeded Oilers rolled into the playoffs with lofty expectations following an impressive regular season. And for the majority of their second-round game, this trend of success appeared set to continue. Then Huntington Beach surrendered a 5-0 seventh-inning lead, and it was sent home the following inning on a walk-off hit.

While the shocking defeat was undoubtedly disappointing, Hahn is looking forward to how he and his teammates will grow from the experience.

“Baseball is a game of failure,” Hahn said. “You can't win everything. Every loss is definitely a learning experience, and there's always something to take away from it. I think since we were such a young team, we're going to come back two times stronger. We're going to have that playoff experience. We were on the road that game. If we go back up there, we're going to know how to handle the large crowd and the trash talk.”

With a senior-heavy roster set to return in 2019, the Oilers are poised to remain one of the teams to beat in Southern California. This past season’s stunning and abrupt end has only fueled their focus.

For Hahn, one final run in the high school ranks is hardly the beginning of his journey. Although he ultimately views his baseball future on the mound, he is currently scheduled to be a two-way contributor for the Bruins at the next level.

Hahn is ecstatic at the opportunity to play for UCLA, a place that he calls his “dream school.” He has family connections to the university, and has been a fan of the Bruins for as long as he can remember.

That said, it is possible that the hard-throwing Hahn never plays a game at Jackie Robinson Stadium. With a fastball that clocks in at the low 90s and a 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, Hahn has the chance to launch himself up MLB Draft boards with an impressive senior campaign.

“It’s definitely a possibility,” Hahn said of going straight from high school to the pros. “It's an option, but it's also pretty hard to turn down UCLA. It's my dream school, and it always has been. It's a historic baseball program, and a historic school overall. It just comes down to the right slot. Whatever happens, it will be for the best of my interest and my family's interest.”

Benji Medure and Josh Hahn
Huntington Beach High coach Benji Medure congratulates Josh Hahn in the second inning of a game against La Verne Damien on March 1. Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer

COACH OF THE YEAR

Benji Medure

Huntington Beach

Medure guided one of the top baseball teams in California during the 2018 season. At one point, the Oilers were ranked as high as No. 2 in the CalHiSports.com state poll. Medure led the Oilers to their fourth Sunset League title in five years, as well as the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Second-seeded Huntington Beach’s season ended with a stunning 6-5 loss in eight innings at Goleta Dos Pueblos. The Oilers finished 26-6 overall, their second straight 26-win campaign under Medure, and 13-2 in the league, two games ahead of second-place Los Alamitos.

Nathan Wilson
Fountain Valley High's Nathan Wilson, left, gets a high-five from Noah Amenta after pitching a two-hit shutout against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League game on March 16. Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer

FIRST TEAM

Nathan Wilson

P | Fountain Valley | Sr.

Wilson earned the Sunset League Pitcher of the Year award and made the All-Orange County third team after winning eight games. The future Colorado Mesa University right-hander finished with a 2.42 ERA, a 1.220 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 63 innings.

Tommy Wilcox

P | Corona del Mar | Jr.

The Tennessee commit threw four straight shutouts and 32 straight scoreless innings, and shared the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year award. Wilcox, a right-hander, posted a 10-1 record with a 1.97 ERA, striking out 40 in 64 innings.

Edward Pelc

P / Huntington Beach / Jr.

The transfer from Sage Hill tossed 16 consecutive scoreless innings when the left-hander became eligible. Pelc, a first-team All-Sunset League pick, allowed two runs in 29 innings. The UC San Diego commit went 5-0 with a 0.24 ERA.

Gavin Kennedy

P / Ocean View / Jr.

The Cal State Fullerton commit finished with an 8-2 record and a 1.20 ERA. The right-hander, who had 71 strikeouts, shared the Golden West League MVP award. Kennedy hit .333 with 15 RBIs and 10 doubles.

Kevin Hultgren
Edison High starter Kevin Hultgren throws against La Mirada in the first inning of a Downey Tournament game on Feb. 28. Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer

Kevin Hultgren

P / Edison / Jr.

The right-hander threw 6 1/3 innings in Edison’s 5-1 upset of Huntington Beach, which at the time was ranked No. 3 in the state by CalHiSports.com. Hultgren, a first-team All-Sunset League member, went 6-3 with a 2.80 ERA.

Nick Lopez

C / Huntington Beach / Sr.

Lopez batted .364 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. The first-team All-Sunset League and All-Orange County selection had a .670 slugging percentage, scored 19 runs and doubled six times. He threw out 50% of potential base stealers.

Noah Amenta

1B / Fountain Valley / Sr.

The first-team All-Sunset League and All-CIF Southern Section Division 2 pick hit .395 with 24 RBIs. He had a .525 on-base percentage, two doubles and scored 21 runs. Amenta helped the Barons reach the second round of the playoffs.

John Olmstead

INF / Newport Harbor / Jr.

The USC-bound player batted .366 with seven home runs and five doubles. Olmstead finished with a .523 slugging percentage and .424 on-base percentage. The shortstop, who made the All-Sunset League first team, hit a 10th-inning walk-off homer against Fountain Valley.

J.T. Schwartz
Corona del Mar High shortstop J.T. Schwartz runs down a short hopper in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs against Yucaipa on May 22. Don Leach / Staff Photographer

J.T. Schwartz

INF / Corona del Mar / Sr.

The future UCLA player garnered All-CIF Southern Section Division 2, first-team All-Pacific Coast League and second-team All-Orange County accolades. The shortstop hit .326 with seven home runs, seven doubles, two triples and 34 RBIs. Schwartz had a .697 slugging percentage and scored 34 runs. Schwartz is a four-time first-team Dream Team pick.

Sebastian Murillo

INF / Fountain Valley / So.

The first-team All-Sunset League shortstop finished with a .395 batting average, three home runs, 14 doubles and 25 RBIs. He scored 31 runs and had a .525 on-base percentage. Murillo is committed to the University of Arizona.

Chase Hanson

OF / Edison / Sr.

The left-handed hitting Hanson played right field and finished with a .341 batting average, two home runs, two triples, 10 doubles, 15 RBIs, a .560 slugging percentage and 20 runs. The future UNLV player earned first-team All-Sunset League honors.

Grady Morgan

OF / Laguna Beach / Sr.

Morgan took home the Orange Coast League MVP award, as well as All-CIF Southern Section Division 2 and third-team All-Orange County honors. He batted .415 with six home runs, two triples, 16 doubles, 28 RBIs and 34 runs.

Jake Vogel
Huntington Beach High's Jake Vogel hits a solo home run in the first inning of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 first-round game against Vista Murrieta on May 18. Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer

Jake Vogel

OF / Huntington Beach / So.

The center fielder received first-team All-Sunset League recognition after batting .330 with three home runs, two triples and nine doubles and 18 RBIs. Vogel, a UCLA commit, scored 29 runs and was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts.

Justin Brodt

DH / Huntington Beach / Sr.

The 6-foot-7 Brodt made the All-Sunset League first team and All-Orange County third team after batting .337 with four home runs, nine doubles and 24 RBIs. He hit two homers in a 6-2 win at Fountain Valley.

Chazz Martinez

U | Corona del Mar | Sr.

The future UC Santa Barbara pitcher went 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA, striking out 72 in 58 2/3 innings. The All-CIF Southern Section Division 2, first-team All-Pacific Coast League and second-team All-Orange County selection hit .385 with five homers and 32 RBIs. Martinez is a three-time first-team Dream Team pick.

SECOND TEAM

Position, Name, School, Year

P Riley Haddon, Edison, Sr.

P Jack Loechner, Laguna Beach, Sr.

P Ashwin Chona, Sage Hill, Jr.

P Blake Burzell, Laguna Beach, Sr.

P Jake Covey, Estancia, So.

C Clay Liolios, Newport Harbor, So.

1B Trevon Klein, Sage Hill, Jr.

2B Reece Berger, Corona del Mar, Jr.

SS Cole Minato, Huntington Beach, Jr.

3B Jake Brooks, Fountain Valley, So.

OF Conrad Villafuerte, Fountain Valley, Sr.

OF AJ Stefano, Newport Harbor, Sr.

OF Cole Wentz, Fountain Valley, So.

DH James Williams, Ocean View, Sr.

U Connor Aoki, Edison, Sr.

JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell

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