Close games seem to be the norm when Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach meet on the baseball diamond.
Wednesday's Sunset League showdown at Huntington had a similar feel, only this time it was a high-scoring affair.
Fountain Valley staked its way to an early, 5-0 lead, lost that advantage and fell behind two runs, but scored the game's final four runs to emerge with a scintillating, 9-7 victory. The win was big for the Barons who moved into a first-place tie with the Oilers in the league standings.
Both teams, now 3-1 in league, conclude their three-game series at 3:15 p.m. Friday at Fountain Valley.
Huntington, the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, had its 12-game win streak snapped.
The game produced 19 hits and the teams combined sent nine pitchers to the mound.
"It was a great game on both sides," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said. "In our last eight games with those guys (Huntington Beach), it's either been a one-run game, a close game, or a back-and-forth game, which it was today.
"Huntington Beach is a very good ballclub, and they were rolling coming into this game. To get this game was absolutely huge for us."
Fountain Valley (14-6 overall) took a 1-0 lead after one inning and bolted to a 5-0 lead thanks to a grand slam by Daniel Patzlaff in the top of the second. The senior drove a 2-0 pitch to left-center field to provide a major game highlight. Huntington (15-3) got two runs back in the bottom-half of the second, then scored five runs in the third to grab its first and only lead.
With one out and bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Huntington's Marcus Mayorga ripped a double to the wall in left field to drive in Jake Brodt and Cooper Moore to make it a 5-4 game. Jesse Kuet drew a walk to again load the bases, then Logan Pouelsen lined a one-hop single into right field. The ball slipped through and to the fence, and his ground-rule double scored Jarrett Anton (who walked) and Mayorga to put the Oilers in front, 6-5.
Daniel Amaral, the MVP of last week's Hard 9 National Classic, flew out to right-center field for the second out. Kuet, however, tagged and scored from third to make it 7-5. On the play, Pouelsen tagged at second but was thrown out in his attempt to reach third. The double play ended the inning.
Fountain Valley retaliated immediately, a two-out rally in the top of the fourth producing three runs that put the Barons back on top for good.
"I thought we were going to get those runs back," Yanagisawa said. "With a senior-laden team, and we're not going to panic. These seniors have a lot of varsity experience playing in big games, and there were still nine outs to go for us.
"I give our kids a lot of credit. They battled back and knew they had squandered a big lead."
The Fountain Valley rally began when Justin Brand reached base on an infield error. Justin Cobb followed with a single to center field, and a double to deep center by Junior Aguilar drove in Brand. With the tying run at third, Daniel Rosica crushed an 0-2 fastball off the fence in left field. His double brought home both Cobb and Aguilar, and the Barons regained the lead at 8-7.
Fountain Valley again produced a run with two out, this time in the sixth. JT Navarro opened the inning with a walk and two outs later, Dillon Persinger, facing a full count, sent a shot into left-center field. Navarro hustled in from first to score, his wide slide at the plate enough to get him under the tag of Huntington catcher Tyler Murray.
Huntington put the tying runs on base in the bottom of the sixth when Pouelsen and Amaral both drew two-out walks, but were denied when a deep shot to right-center by Murray was run down and caught by Persinger.
Fountain Valley scored its first run in the opening inning. Patzlaff hit a lead-off single and later scored when a grounder toward the middle of the infield by Willie Aguilar was mishandled by the Oilers.
Trailing, 5-0, Huntington began its comeback in the bottom of the second. Brodt hit a lead-off double and one out later, Clint Jack singled to put runners at the corners. Anton and Kuet both singled to drive in a run.
The season series between the teams is even at 1-1. In a reversal of Wednesday's 16-run game, Huntington won the first meeting March 26, 2-1.