The word the Huntington Beach High baseball team has used this season has been “grind,” and the Oilers have epitomized it.
Star junior outfielder Jake Vogel went down in the first inning of Friday’s Surf League game against visiting Fountain Valley. Oilers coach Benji Medure said that Vogel severely sprained his left ankle trying to get back to first base on a pick-off move.
Medure hopes to have Vogel, a UCLA commit, back as early as next week. But he also could have confidence in knowing that Vogel’s replacement, senior Nick Upstill, had a pair of hits and a run-scoring groundout in three at-bats.
Huntington Beach stayed perfect in the Surf League after grinding out a 5-1 win over last-place Fountain Valley. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Wednesday’s game, when the Oilers scored five runs in the top of the seventh at Fountain Valley to rally for an 8-7 victory.
“That was huge, because it helped us win the series,” Medure said. “Now being able to go for the [three-game] sweep, in a nine-game [league], if you sweep one of the teams you’re in the driver’s seat .. I told them before we went to North Carolina that it was going to take all 24 of us to pull through the season, and they’re doing a good job of that.”
Huntington Beach (19-5, 5-0 in league), ranked No. 2 in the state by Maxpreps.com and No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, earned a pair of league wins this week after going 3-1 at the National High School Invitational tournament in North Carolina. The Oilers opened up a two-game lead on Edison with four league games remaining.
Senior right-handed pitcher Jeremy Wiegman, who closed the Oilers’ win Wednesday, started the game two days later. He went five strong innings, allowing one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out four before sophomore left-hander Shane Stafford closed the game.
“I think Jeremy does a really good job of commanding the inside pitch,” said Wiegman’s battery-mate, sophomore catcher Blake Penso, who was two for three with a double, run scored and run batted in. “He can come in for strikes on the inside corner very consistently. I think in high school baseball, high school teams live on the outside corner. It’s a little different when teams go in. I think with his fastball, guys hook it foul, and then he’s got a great curveball that he can get guys out with.”
The Oilers got on the scoreboard in the first, after Jag Burden led off with a double to center. He eventually came home when Cole Minato drew a bases-loaded walk. Fountain Valley coach Deric Yanagasawa then pulled his starting pitcher Noah Fernandez and inserted Luke Bundensen.
Yanagasawa said the game plan for Fountain Valley (6-15, 0-5) was to not have a pitcher go more than once through the order. Huntington Beach still added a run in the second, when Penso doubled leading off and was driven home by Upstill’s single.
Minato had a one-out triple in the third and scored, giving Huntington Beach a 3-0 lead.
Fountain Valley scored its lone run in the fourth, when leadoff batter Cole Wentz was hit by a pitch and scored on Connor Bennett’s single to right. But Huntington Beach added two insurance runs in the sixth.
“The North Carolina tournament, as tough as it was, it’s not what we’re shooting for,” Medure said. “What we’re shooting for is winning a league title and making the playoffs. We can have as much fun as we want in North Carolina. If we don’t come back home and take care of business, then the season is a loss. We’ve got to get to the playoffs.”
Huntington Beach plays Los Alamitos (2-3 in league) next week, while Fountain Valley plays rival Edison (3-2).
Sebastian Murillo had a single and Trey Seeley a double on Friday for the Barons, who have had a rough season.
“It’s our duty in this league to see things through,” Yanagasawa said. “You won’t be seeing us start nine freshmen or anything like that. We’re still going to try to finish our season on a good note and go on a little winning streak.”