High School Baseball: Fountain Valley edges HB

HUNTINGTON BEACH — It's too bad the Sunset League baseball season series between Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach has come to an end.

Two days removed from a thriller at Fountain Valley, the Barons and Oilers staged another barnburner Friday and the encore proved as scintillating as Wednesday's finish. As was the case in their previous encounter, the Barons jumped out to a huge lead, then had to fend of an outstanding comeback by the host Oilers, to hold on for a 9-8 victory.

Fountain Valley used a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday to pull out a 12-11 victory. Friday's game had an eerily similar feel to it and despite the offense, and there was plenty of fireworks for both teams, it was a huge defensive play that ended this game.

Huntington was down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh but put the tying run on base when Tyler Murray drew a walk. That brought up Jake Brodt who, in his first three at-bats in the game, had only drawn a walk.

Brodt was down in the count, 1-2, to Justin Cobb, the third Fountain Valley pitcher of the game, but then sliced a shot deep into the left-field corner. Left-fielder Jacob Peralta chased down the ball, turned and threw to cut-off man, first baseman Jordan Lucio. Branden Williams, pinch running for Murray, had already cleared both second and third base, and was headed for home, when Lucio fired to the plate.

Williams came up just short of reaching his destination.

In a close play at home, Lucio's strike to Fountain Valley catcher Dillon Persinger came just in time. Persinger laid the tag on Murray as he stretched for the plate, for the final out.

The play capped a wild and crazy game between the teams, and it allowed Fountain Valley to remain undefeated in Sunset League play (7-0) and increased the Barons' win streak to 11 games.

Fountain Valley (18-1), which has scored 106 runs during its win streak, holds a three-game lead on the rest of the Sunset pack.

Huntington slipped to 2-5 in league, and 9-9 overall.

"This was your typical Sunset League baseball game," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said, shaking his head at the thought of his team escaping Huntington's spirited comeback. "You have to give Huntington credit. They trailed big again early, like they did on Wednesday, but I tip my hat to Coach Benji [Medure] for keeping his team in the game.

"But, you have to give our kids credit, too, They showed a lot of resiliency in the late innings, and that's the sign of a good team."

Fountain Valley, as it had on Wednesday, powered its way to a big lead. This time, the Barons forged a 9-1 advantage through 3 1/2 innings. In Wednesday's 12-11 win, the Barons staked their way to a 6-0 lead after one inning. They held six-run leads on two other occasions before Huntington stormed back to tie the score in the top of the sixth.

The Barons got the win in the bottom of the seventh on Daniel Patzlaff's solo home run. Patzlaff earlier had hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning that extended the Barons' lead to 11-5.

Patzlaff, a senior, was at it again Friday. He homered twice, the first time on a two-run shot in the top of the first inning to give Fountain Valley an immediate, 2-0 lead. His second homer came in his second at-bat and cleared the fence in left field. The solo homer came four pitches after Brock Lundquist had opened the third inning by taking his first pitch for a home run to right field.

Fountain Valley held a 5-1 lead through three innings. The Barons got their third run of the first inning when, with two out, Justin Brand doubled and scored when Cobb beat out a an infield grounder. Huntington posted its first run in the bottom of the first when lead-off hitter Jesse Kuet doubled on the first pitch to the right-field corner and later scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Logan Pouelsen.

With two out in the top of the fourth, Brand delivered an even bigger blow, a grand slam. The junior third baseman crushed a 3-1 pitch that traveled high and well beyond the 275-foot marker on the left field fence.

At 9-1, Fountain Valley seemed in control. Huntington, however, was far from finished. The Oilers responded to Brand's slam by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth to climb back into contention. They went through their batting order in the inning which started with a double to the fence in center field by clean-up hitter Marcus Mayorga.

The Oilers' first run came in when Jarrett Anton sent a tricky fly ball toward shallow right field. Fountain Valley second baseman Joseph Secrest, with his back to the plate, went on the run in an attempt to make the difficult catch, but bobbled and dropped the ball. Mayorga scored on the play. Dillon Millar followed with an RBI single to right field and Jesse Kuet ripped a laser shot off the pole in left field, to knock in two more runs.

Clint Jack brought in the final run of the fourth when he stroked a double down the third-base line to score Kuet from third. The junior's hit brought the Oilers to within 9-6.

Kuet came up big again in the bottom of the sixth. With two out, the junior rocked a two-run home run on a full count to made it a one-run game.

The game featured five home runs and seven doubles.

"I told our kids that I was proud to be a part of these last two games," Medure said after he had addressed his Oilers in postgame. "That was two of the most critical, crucial, incredible games that I have been part of in 13 years [of coaching].

"I think it's a testament to our kids that they came back the way they did today. I think the fact that the same thing happed two days ago, let them know that the game wasn't over. They had a never-say-die attitude."

At 7-0, Fountain Valley appears to be in the driver's seat in the league race. Still, there are eight league games to be played, starting next week with two games against Newport Harbor. Two-game series with Los Alamitos, Edison and Marina, follow.

Yanagisawa is aware of the pitfalls that could lay ahead.

"There is still work to be done," he said. "You have to respect everyone in this league."

Fountain Valley swept the league series (3-0) with the Oilers. The Barons won the series opener, 5-0, on March 15.

Huntington begins a two-game series with Marina next week and hosts the Vikings at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. The teams meet again at Marina on April 19.


Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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