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Huntington Beach marches into D1 title game
LONG BEACH – Excellent pitching, timely hitting and great fielding.
Huntington Beach had all of that Tuesday. The Oilers beat Norco, 4-0, in a CIF-SS baseball Division 1 semifinal playoff game at Blair Field.
Huntington Beach (25-8) will play Hart of Newhall (20-9-2) in the championship game Saturday at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino. The starting time will be announced today. The Division 1 game usually is a 7:30 p.m. game.
Huntington Beach has played in one CIF-SS baseball championship game. The Oilers lost to Crespi of Encino, 8-1, in the Division 2 final in 2009.
Mitchell Kovary pitched a three-hitter for Huntington Beach. He was not scheduled to start Tuesday, but the junior right-hander got the assignment when Hagen Danner was unable to go.
“I found out (Monday) that Hagen’s arm is sore,” Kovary said. “I was ready.”
Kovary walked two and struck out four. He got into trouble only in the second inning when Norco (24-6) had runners on first and second with no outs. Kovary struck out the next two Cougars and got the third out on a ground ball.
Huntington Beach took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Daniel Amaral singled and eventually scored on Logan Pouelsen’s double to right-center field. Poulesen scored on Tyler Murray’s single.
Norco had a runner on first base with one out in the fourth inning. The Cougars’ Trevor Thompson launched a deep fly to left field. The trajectory of the ball quickly made it obvious that it would travel over the head of Huntington Beach left fielder Dominic Abbadessa.
Abbadessa turned and ran toward the left-field wall with his back to home plate. He looked up into the sun just in time to make the running, over-the-shoulder catcher. Abbadessa pivoted and threw to Oilers second baseman Kyle Coburn who fired the ball to first baseman Cooper Moore to complete an inning-ending double play.
Kovary called the play “insane.”
“That helped me so much,” Kovary said. “If that falls in, it’s 2-1 and they’ve got a guy on third. It was an amazing catch.”
Abbadessa had played at Blair Field before so he was familiar with its large outfield.
“There’s a lot of room to run,” Abbadessa said. “The ball got caught in the sun a little bit. I followed it through the sun and saw it drop through at the last second.”
The Oilers added two runs in the sixth inning. Abbadessa doubled to drive in Amaral to make it 3-0. He scored on Cooper Moore’s fielder’s choice grounder.
Another standout defensive play by Huntington Beach happened in the third. With a Cougar on first base and no outs, Pouelsen quickly fielded a bunt and rifled a perfect throw to second base to start a double play.
Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure is confident the type of pitching, clutch hitting and defense the Oilers have displayed all season will continue so the team can make school history with its first CIF baseball championship.
“This is a special team that stays poised in the moment,” Medure said.
Orange County teams have played in the Division 1 final in five of the past six seasons. Santa Margarita won the Division 1 title last year.
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