When Benji Medure first took over as head baseball coach at Huntington Beach High, he had hopes that, one day, his team would land a spot in a future Hard 9 National Classic.
He has realized that invite to the annual spring break event. Not only that, the Oilers have become champions of the tournament.
Huntington captured the National Classic title April 17 by defeating San Jose Valley Christian, 3-2, in the tournament final at Cal State Fullerton. The victory completed a 4-0 tourney run that started April 14 and included wins against Elsinore (6-1), Santa Margarita (2-1), IMG Academy of Florida (5-2), and Valley Christian.
Jarrett Anton delivered the game-winning hit and went two for four with two runs batted in, and pitcher Ryan Abady (3-1) held Valley Christian hitless in his 1 1/3 innings of relief work to get the win, in the championship game.
The four victories extended Huntington's win streak to 12 games. The Oilers, the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, improved to 15-2 overall.
Huntington junior Daniel Amaral was named tournament MVP. The Oilers' Noah Davis, who earned the win against IMG Academy in the April 16 semifinals, was named Pitcher of the Tournament.
Senior Jake Brodt, who had the game-winning, walk-off RBI double to beat Santa Margarita April 15, was named to the all-tournament team.
"The National Classic is a very prestigious tournament, so just to be invited to it is an accomplishment," Medure said. "To win the whole deal is something that is hard to believe.
"I remember 14 years ago when I first got the job, thinking that we would never even get a chance to play in the tournament. Now, here we are, with the trophy. It's awesome."
•Fountain Valley also competed for the title of the Hard 9 National Classic, and the Barons split their four games at the tournament. They ended their run with a 7-0 victory over Sunrise Mountain (Arizona) in the seventh-place game April 17.
Daniel Patzlaff and Daniel Rosica each had two hits and Scott Schultz earned his eighth win of the season in the Barons' tourney finale.
Patzlaff, who went six for 12 in four tournament games, and the undefeated Schultz, who struck out seven and didn't allow an earned run in the tournament, both made the all-tournament team.
Fountain Valley headed into the week 13-6.
"We had a great time playing teams from other states," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said. "We had a chance to see quality baseball players throughout the tournament. We were able to get guys playing time."
Huntington and Fountain Valley were on a collision course this week and squared off Wednesday in the first of two, crucial Sunset League showdowns. The Oilers held a one-game lead over the Barons in the standings heading into the matchup. The score from that game, as well as league games Wednesday between Newport Harbor-Edison, and Marina-Los Alamitos, weren't available at press time.
"Every league game matters, whether it is Fountain Valley, or anyone else," Medure said. "We aren't looking past anyone. It sounds boring, but we are just trying to stay grounded and work on the next game against Fountain Valley.
"We don't care about the standings, our record or anything else. We'll peek up at the standings at the end of the year and see where we are."
The Oilers and Barons again go at it Friday at Fountain Valley to complete their three-game league series. In other league series finales that day, Edison goes to Newport Harbor and Marina entertains Los Alamitos. All three games start at 3:15 p.m.
"Over the last two years, every game against Huntington Beach has been exciting," Yanagisawa said. "As a player, these are the games you look forward to and want to compete in. If you can't get excited and motivated this week, you shouldn't be a varsity athlete.