Regional roundup: Huntington Beach wins Division I title behind Ralph Velazquez homer

·4 min read

A day that began with an overcast, gloomy sky in Orange County ended in sunshine and a pumped Ralph Velazquez of Huntington Beach being hugged and mobbed by teammates.

It was his two-run home run in the eighth inning that provided the decisive blow in a 2-0 victory over San Juan Capistrano JSerra in the Southern California Regional Division I baseball championship game Saturday.

"I'm speechless right now," Velazquez said. "I don't know what to say. It's the greatest moment with my guys. It's crazy. It's insane."

Huntington Beach (25-9), a team that was eliminated in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, found a way to win it all behind senior pitcher Matt Lopez, who is headed to Northern Kentucky. He gave up seven hits in the first four innings but never wavered and left after throwing seven scoreless innings. Ben Jacobs earned the save.

"I had to go out with a bang," Lopez said.

First he matched Oregon State-bound Tyler Gough, who gave up two hits in six innings for JSerra. Then Vanderbilt-bound David Horn threw a scoreless seventh for JSerra. In the eighth, Louisiana State commit Matt Champion took over. With one out, just as Velazquez got his barrel on the pitch, a strong breeze suddenly was felt. A fan yelled, "Go." The ball carried over the left-field fence.

Watching from the dugout, Huntington Beach coach Benj Medure said, "I was going crazy in my mind. I was doing the Carlton Fisk dance to get it out."

JSerra (25-11), the Southern Section Division 1 champion, wasted too many opportunities. There was a failed suicide squeeze and two double plays. JJ Hollins had a single, double and triple for the Lions.

Huntington Beach's Aiden Espinoza had two hits, including a one-out single in the eighth inning before Velazquez came through with his home run.

"I looked up, 'It has a chance,' " Velazquez said about what was going through his mind.

What an ending for an Oilers team that should be in contention next season with six returning starters, including Velazquez.

Newport Harbor 5, Westlake Village Oaks Christian 1: Trent Liolios had three hits to help Newport Harbor win the Division III regional championship. He also had three shutout innings on the mound.

Costa Mesa Estancia 11, Baldwin Park 2: Jack Moyer had four hits in the Division V championship game.

Torrey Pines 19, Etiwanda 8: Junior Barajas had four RBIs for Torrey Pines in the Division II final.

Tesoro 6, Fullerton 4: Jackson Freeman had a home run and four RBIs to help Tesoro win the Division IV championship.

Softball

Westlake Village Oaks Christian 6, Eastvale Roosevelt 5: The Lions completed a near-perfect season, winning 34 of 35 games, while claiming the Division I regional championship.

A four-run third inning that featured a two-run home run from Lily Knox keyed the Lions' victory over the Southern Section Division 1 champions. Roosevelt closed to 6-5 in the sixth, helped by a two-run single from Alexa Lopez.

In the seventh, Roosevelt loaded the bases with two outs, but Notre Dame-bound Micaela Kastor, who decided to stay with her high school team instead of playing club games this weekend, ended it with a strikeout.

Long Beach St. Anthony 2, Temple City 1: Miracle McKenzie lived up to her first name, delivering a two-run, double in the seventh inning to rally St. Anthony to the Division III championship.

Kassandra Gewecke of Temple City held St. Anthony scoreless for six innings but a single, walk and wild pitch in the seventh put runners on second and third. Then McKenzie completed the "miracle" comeback. Rose Cano closed out the bottom of the seventh for the victory.

Chula Vista Mater Dei 15, Torrance 9: Mater Dei won the Division II championship game in eight innings.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.