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    La Mirada baseball buried early, but rallies to stun Huntington Beach in Division I regional semifinals
    • May 31, 2024

    HUNTINGTON BEACH — The Huntington Beach baseball team took a big early lead in its CIF Southern California Division I Regional semifinal against La Mirada on Thursday at Huntington Beach High School.

    But La Mirada’s relief pitchers came in to keep the Oilers in check from the second inning on and the Matadores’ power-hitting lineup, led by Kevin Jeon’s two home runs and five RBIs, led the way to a stunning 10-8 come-from-behind victory,

    The Matadores (25-7), who are the No. 7 seed in the bracket, will take on No. 1 seed Orange Lutheran in the regional final Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hart Park in Orange.

    The Lancers defeated Santa Margarita 3-0 in the other regional semifinal Thursday.

    “We took advantage (of the opportunity),” La Mirada coach Jimmy Zurn said. “I feel like we can beat any team in the Southern Section or in California on any given day and we showed that today.”

    The No.3 Oilers (24-10) strung together five consecutive singles to start off the first inning and eight hits overall to take a 6-1 lead.

    Trent Grindlinger, Jayton Greer, John Petrie and Ethan Porter singled in runs for the Oilers in the first inning.

    Relief pitcher Jason Rodriguez entered the game in the bottom of the first and kept the Oilers off the board through the fifth inning.

    La Mirada got two runs back in the third to make the score 6-3.

    Then in the fourth, Jeon’s grand slam gave the Matadores a 7-6 lead.

    “We made mistakes on the mound and we left the ball over the plate and they made us pay for it,” Huntington Beach coach Benji Medure said. “And that’s what a good hitting team will do to you. Sometimes you make mistakes and people pop up. A good hitting team doesn’t miss. And they didn’t miss. So, credit to them.”

    Travis Curry’s solo home run in the bottom of the fifth tied the score and swung the momentum back to the Oilers.

    But the Matadores took the momentum right back in the sixth with back-to-back home runs, a two-run shot from leadoff hitter Maverek Russell followed by Jeon’s second homer, giving La Mirada a10-7 lead.

    Grindlinger, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored, singled home the Oilers’ eighth run.

    Luke Armijo pitched the final two innings for the Matadores.

    The Oilers were held to three hits after their first-inning barrage.

    “I thought that the key to our game was what Jason Rodriguez did coming in and giving us four innings in the middle and let us chip away and get back into it,” Zurn said. “That is a special program in the other dugout.”

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    ​ Orange County Register