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Huntington Beach baseball tops JSerra in thrilling CIF SoCal Division I regional final

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO >> Huntington Beach beat JSerra 2-0 in eight innings Saturday in front of a standing-room only crowd at JSerra High to win its first CIF Southern California Regional championship.

Arizona State commit Ralphy Velazquez hit a two-run home run over the left-field wall in the eighth inning to decide the game for Huntington Beach (25-9).

“I was going crazy in my mind for sure. I was doing that Carlton Fisk dance to get it over the fence,” Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said. “We knew if Ralph came up we were going to have a chance.”

The home run was the ninth of the season for Velazquez, which is a team-high.

“We played well in the CIF playoffs and it didn’t go our way but we got a second chance here and we did what we wanted to do,” Velazquez said. “I knew that we had a special team and we went out and did it. It’s a dream come true.”

The Oilers planned for this game Thursday when they did not use senior pitcher Matt Lopez in a 9-2 win over Villa Park in the semifinals.

“I went to my pitching coach and said, ‘We need to win the whole thing for this to be valid. Let’s save Matthew for the championship game,’ ” Medure said. “We have that much faith in him. It’s typical of him to pitch well in big games.”

Lopez was very effective Saturday. The Northern Kentucky signee pitched seven shutout innings, scattered nine hits and had four strikeouts to earn the win.

“The coaches have extreme confidence in all of us and that’s awesome,” Lopez said. “I just wanted to show what I can do and I’m really glad I was able to do that.”

JSerra pitcher and Oregon State signee Tyler Gough was equally dominant. The 6-foot-2 senior pitched six shutout innings, allowed just two hits and had four strikeouts.

Both teams had chances to score throughout the game. Huntington Beach had runners on second and third in the first inning with one out. Gough got a strikeout and an infield pop fly to get out of the inning unscathed.

JSerra third baseman and UC Santa Barbara commit JJ Hollis hit a triple with one out in the sixth inning. On the ensuing play, Lopez fielded a hard line drive for an out and got an infield fly out to keep the shutout intact.

“I was definitely nervous,” Lopez said, “but I had my defense behind me though and had full confidence. We were able to pitch around it and end up with a state title. Can’t ask for much more.”

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