Two friends and future Pac-12 baseball pitchers began their rivalry early under the bright lights of the Boras Classic South tournament Tuesday at Mater Dei High.
La Mirada High’s Jared Jones outdueled Huntington Beach’s Josh Hahn.
Jones threw 6 2/3 innings, and the Matadores defeated the Oilers 2-1 in the opening round of the prestigious tournament.
The matchup featured two of the top six teams in the state by CalHiSports.com, Huntington Beach is ranked No. 4 and La Mirada No. 6. The stakes were high for both starters, as Hahn is a senior bound for UCLA and Jones is a junior committed to USC.
Jones allowed just three hits and struck out six. He also aided his own cause, going two for three, knocking in the tying run and scoring the game-winning run for the Matadores.
The Matadores (13-3) advance to play Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (10-4) in the quarterfinals at Mater Dei Wednesday at 6 p.m. Mira Costa earned a 6-2 opening-round upset win over Cypress, the top-ranked team in the state.
Hahn was almost as effective as Jones. The left-hander went five innings, allowing seven hits and striking out seven.
The Oilers (12-3) struck early.
After an infield single by Jag Burden, Shane Stafford hit another infield single, moving Burden to third on a throwing error. After a walk to Ken Takada, Dylan Ramirez lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Burden and staking the Oilers to a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Hahn, his counterpart came up big in the bottom of the fifth inning. After Eugene Jeon reached on an infield hit, Jones doubled to right field, scoring Noah Rodriguez who pinch-ran for Jung. Jones then scored on a single to left center field by Darius Perry, putting the Matadores ahead 2-1.
Jones said he used his familiarity with Hahn to his advantage.
“I think he threw me three or four fastballs all game,” he said. “I knew he was going to throw me something off-speed and he threw me an 0-2 slider. I ended up fighting it off, and it ended up falling in.”
Hahn complimented Jones.
“I’ve known Jones for a long time,” he said. “I knew most of his stuff, but he’s a good guy and a really good player.”
With a 2-1 lead, Jones shut down the Oilers, until he reached his CIF-mandated 115-pitch count limit and was relieved by Jacob Sharp, who got the final out to seal the victory for La Mirada. Even in victory, Jones was gracious to his friend.
“It’s kind of rough, just playing him,” Jones said. “We played for the same team since we were 13.”
Oilers coach Benji Medure was fine with his team’s approach against Jones.
“We were pretty patient,” said Medure, whose team will face Cypress in the consolation bracket Wednesday at noon at Mater Dei. “I think we had opportunities. He’s a strikeout pitcher. You get bases loaded or second and third, and he can still put you away he can go one two three even with no outs.”
For Matadores coach Jimmy Zurn, Jones’ drive made all the difference.