Huntington Beach outfielder J.J. Muratore gets some altitude in an effort to rob JSerra's Lyle Lin of a fourth inning grand slam on Monday. The ball cleared the fence and helped the Lions win the game, 9-6.

JSerra, Huntington Beach split wild, high-scoring doubleheader


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – It’s early in the season, but eager baseball fans turned out by the hundreds for a heavyweight matchup.

Top-ranked JSerra and fourth-ranked Huntington Beach went toe-to-toe in a nonleague doubleheader on Monday, and the teams traded blows in two action-packed games.

A five-run fourth inning that included catchcer Lyle Lin’s grand slam powered the Lions to a 9-6 victory in the opener at JSerra High.

Chad Minato had a two-run homer as the Oilers rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win the second game, 9-8. The contest was a back-and-forth battle, and the score was tied at 6-6 and 7-7 in the final three innings. The Oilers went ahead for good with three runs in the sixth.

The nightcap ended with the Lions scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh and having the tying run on base, but Oilers closer Hagen Danner got a JSerra batter to gound out for the final out.

The opener of the doubleheader had its share of dramatic moments, too.

Lin’s slam, which came with two outs in the fourth, gave the Lions a 7-2 lead.

“We just tried to battle until that inning,” Lin said. “I saw the pitch. It was an inside fastball. With two strikes, I told myself to have a bigger zone. I was trying to hit the ball hard and get on base.”

The Lions (6-1) are playing without star outfielder Brady Shockey, who broke his right hand on a swing in February. The USC signee is out until at least the Boras Classic at the end of this month.

Until then, Lions coach Brett Kay said his veteran group would be searching for its identity.

On Monday, JSerra, which is ranked No. 1 in this week’s CIF-SS Division 1 poll, showcased its ability to play small ball. Huntington Beach starter Mitch Kovary (2-1) struggled with command, hitting four batters. The Lions made the Oilers pay by stealing eight bases.

“When we need that, we’ll go to it,” Kay said of his team being aggressive on the base paths. “That’s part of our character, which is a big part of who we are. We’re not going to hit the ball all over the field a whole lot, especially with Shockey being out.”

Huntington Beach (3-3) fought back with four runs in the sixth to make the score 9-6. JJ Muratore, Dominic Abbadessa and Hagen Danner had run-scoring singles for the defending CIF-SS Division 1 champions.

Colin Townsend pitched a perfect seventh to close out the game. He was also 3 for 3 with two RBI at the plate.

Lions starter Cole Samuels (3-0) labored early, but he allowed just two runs in five innings while stranding five runners.

Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said senior right-hander Logan Pouelsen will need Tommy John surgery to repair a UCL tear. Pouelsen, who signed with UCLA, was injured in the Oilers’ third game of the season.

Huntington Beach is also without junior left-hander Nick Pratto, who won’t become eligible until April 5.

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