The start time of Tuesday’s nonleague showdown between the Huntington Beach and JSerra high school baseball teams was moved up 30 minutes to 2:45 p.m., in an effort to try to beat the incoming rain.
The Oilers and Lions beat the rain but not the darkness, as the game was called due to it after six innings.
That still provided JSerra senior Blake Klassen enough time to make a difference.
Klassen’s three-run double to left-center field in the top of the sixth proved the difference, as the visiting Lions earned a 5-2 victory.
But Klassen finished three for four with four runs batted in to help JSerra get back on track against Huntington Beach.
“Big-time players do big-time things in big-time situations against big-time teams like Huntington Beach,” JSerra coach Brett Kay said. “We’re lucky to come out with a win, but I thought we competed our butts off all day … We knew we had our work cut out for us today, and I thought we came to play.
“Teams wanted it more [in Alabama]. It showed our guys that we have to get a little of the south [Orange] County, the cool, the California out of us. Those guys just wanted it more. I thought we learned a lot from the trip.”
Huntington Beach took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third, when Jag Burden’s ground-rule double scored Jake Vogel. But the Lions tied it at 2-2 in the top of the fourth, when a full-count bases-loaded walk to Cody Schrier scored Nino Vultaggio.
That ended the day of Huntington Beach starting pitcher Edward Pelc. The senior left-hander went 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked five and struck out three.
Shane Stafford came on to earn a strikeout and get out of the jam for the Oilers.
“They did a good job of making Eddie make pitches,” Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said. “They got his pitch count up, and we had to get him out in the fourth and go to our bullpen earlier than we wanted to. Their approach today won them the game.”
The score stayed tied until the top of the sixth, when Klassen roped Thomas Babineau’s 2-2 pitch to left-center with one out. Luke Jewett, Jake Taylor and Michael Curialle all scored on the play.
“I was clapping my hands because I thought he had struck out on the pitch before, the splitter we threw him,” Medure said. “I guess he got a piece of it. It seems like baseball always gets you like that. You think you have him punched out, and he’s still in there. I think he’s their best hitter, so to give him another opportunity, that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Josh Hahn doubled to center to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but he was stranded there.
“It seemed like our guys were kind of going through the motions today, and that’s going to be a big topic of conversation when we meet [Wednesday],” Medure said. “They were totally into it, and we were just like, ‘Oh, whatever.’ It looked like we were ready to take whatever came to us, and you can’t play JSerra that way. You’ve got to get after them.”
Huntington Beach is scheduled to play at Newport Harbor in a Sunset Conference crossover game Wednesday. However, due to rain in the forecast, Medure said that game could be played on Saturday.