When Benji Medure first took over as head baseball coach at Huntington Beach High, he had hopes that, one day, his team would land a spot in a future Hard 9 National Classic.
He has realized that invite to the annual spring break event. Not only that, the Oilers have become champions of the tournament.
Huntington captured the National Classic title April 17 by defeating San Jose Valley Christian, 3-2, in the tournament final at Cal State Fullerton. The victory completed a 4-0 tourney run that started April 14 and included wins against Elsinore (6-1), Santa Margarita (2-1), IMG Academy of Florida (5-2), and Valley Christian.
Jarrett Anton delivered the game-winning hit and went two for four with two runs batted in, and pitcher Ryan Abady (3-1) held Valley Christian hitless in his 1 1/3 innings of relief work to get the win, in the championship game.
The four victories extended Huntington's win streak to 12 games. The Oilers, the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, improved to 15-2 overall.
Huntington junior Daniel Amaral was named tournament MVP. The Oilers' Noah Davis, who earned the win against IMG Academy in the April 16 semifinals, was named Pitcher of the Tournament.
Senior Jake Brodt, who had the game-winning, walk-off RBI double to beat Santa Margarita April 15, was named to the all-tournament team.
"The National Classic is a very prestigious tournament, so just to be invited to it is an accomplishment," Medure said. "To win the whole deal is something that is hard to believe.
"I remember 14 years ago when I first got the job, thinking that we would never even get a chance to play in the tournament. Now, here we are, with the trophy. It's awesome."
•Fountain Valley also competed for the title of the Hard 9 National Classic, and the Barons split their four games at the tournament. They ended their run with a 7-0 victory over Sunrise Mountain (Arizona) in the seventh-place game April 17.
Daniel Patzlaff and Daniel Rosica each had two hits and Scott Schultz earned his eighth win of the season in the Barons' tourney finale.
Patzlaff, who went six for 12 in four tournament games, and the undefeated Schultz, who struck out seven and didn't allow an earned run in the tournament, both made the all-tournament team.
Fountain Valley headed into the week 13-6.
"We had a great time playing teams from other states," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said. "We had a chance to see quality baseball players throughout the tournament. We were able to get guys playing time."
Huntington and Fountain Valley were on a collision course this week and squared off Wednesday in the first of two, crucial Sunset League showdowns. The Oilers held a one-game lead over the Barons in the standings heading into the matchup. The score from that game, as well as league games Wednesday between Newport Harbor-Edison, and Marina-Los Alamitos, weren't available at press time.
"Every league game matters, whether it is Fountain Valley, or anyone else," Medure said. "We aren't looking past anyone. It sounds boring, but we are just trying to stay grounded and work on the next game against Fountain Valley.
"We don't care about the standings, our record or anything else. We'll peek up at the standings at the end of the year and see where we are."
The Oilers and Barons again go at it Friday at Fountain Valley to complete their three-game league series. In other league series finales that day, Edison goes to Newport Harbor and Marina entertains Los Alamitos. All three games start at 3:15 p.m.
"Over the last two years, every game against Huntington Beach has been exciting," Yanagisawa said. "As a player, these are the games you look forward to and want to compete in. If you can't get excited and motivated this week, you shouldn't be a varsity athlete.
"One of the toughest things during spring break was keeping our guys focused on the teams we were playing. All they could talk about was playing Huntington Beach. They are the hottest team in Orange County right now. They deserve all the credit. Benji [Medure] has done an outstanding job with that talented group. We have our work cut out for us this week. We need to play extremely well to beat them."
•Marina contended for the consolation championship of the Ryan Lemmon Tournament April 16, but the Vikings dropped a 15-2 game to Woodbridge.
The Vikings' Austin Moore and Riley Ohl were named all-tournament.
Moore, who drove in the winning run with a two-out, bases-loaded triple in extra innings of a consolation semifinal game April 15 against Long Beach Poly, finished the tournament with four hits, five RBIs, stole four bases, and scored twice. Ohl earlier in the tournament had struck out nine and gave up an earned run in a complete-game, 4-3 win April 14 win over Sacramento El Camino.
Other top tournament performances for Marina, which went 2-2 at the tourney and entered the week 6-10 overall, included Landon Marshall, who had three hits, walked four times, drove in two runs and scored four times, Austin Sojka with three hits, four walks and three runs scored, and Connor McCollum, who had four hits, two RBIs and scored four runs.
"We had some close games in the tourney and we fought well in three of the four games played," Marina Coach Bob Marshall said. "We need to continue to compete and improve in all aspects and strive to eliminate mistakes and get some timely hits if we want to make a run for a playoff spot in the Sunset League."
•Edison took on Tesoro in an Edison Tournament game Saturday, and the host Chargers edged the Titans, 3-2. Adam Moses and Parker Quenneville each a had hit and drove in a run, Quenneville's RBI in the bottom of the sixth scoring Brian Schales with what turned out to be the winning run. Schales, Philip Knapp and Nick Mailman each singled, and Jason McLellan (2-0), who threw one inning of relief, took the win. Michael Mahony, who followed McLellan and threw an inning, picked up his fourth save of the season.
Edison finished 4-1 in the tournament, good for third place.
The Chargers are 14-5 overall and were 5-2 in the Sunset League heading into this week's two-game swing against Newport Harbor.
"We played as if we were still on spring break," Edison Coach Cameron Chinn said. "We will have to have more competitive at-bats to compete with Newport Harbor this week."
•Ocean View again was upended by Loara in Golden West League action, this time, falling by a 7-0 score April 16. The Seahawks mustered only two hits against the Saxons who swept the three-game league series. Michael Giacone and Braydon Salzman singled for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks played at Santa Ana Wednesday. The score wasn't available at press time. They host the Saints at 3:15 p.m. Friday in the league series finale between the teams.
In prep baseball action at 3:15 p.m. next Wednesday, Huntington visits Marina, Fountain Valley plays host to Newport Harbor, Edison is at Los Alamitos, and Ocean View is at home against Segerstrom.