HUNTINGTON BEACH — Evan Chalmers coached Newport Harbor High in a Sunset League baseball game for the first time in five seasons on Friday. He was happy to be back, not so much with his team's start to league.
Early on, the Sailors missed chances to jump on host Huntington Beach. Chalmers saw a runner on second base get doubled up after he didn't try to get back to the bag on a line drive to third base. In the next inning, that same player struck out with the bases loaded.
The Oilers took the lead in the bottom of the second inning and they went on to open league with a convincing 8-4 win. They are talented, with a half dozen players committed to NCAA Division I programs.
"We can't really worry about who's who, and Little League World Series guy here and there, you know, big name guy … going to this school. It doesn't matter," Chalmers said of the Oilers, who have a couple of players who helped Huntington Beach Ocean View win the Little League World Series three years ago in Williamsport, Pa. "We just have to do what we do well and we didn't do those things."
The timely hits never came for Newport Harbor (6-2, 0-1 in league) against Huntington Beach (6-2, 1-0), ranked No 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
Chalmers had been away from the league since 2009, when his first stint with the Sailors ended with him being let go. He has returned this season, and it doesn't take much to know that the Oilers are the league favorites. The Sailors have been far from that in the past three seasons, finishing in last place each time.
One of the three league wins the Sailors earned in 15 games last season came against Huntington Beach. Noah Davis made sure the Oilers came out on top in the first meeting between the two programs this season.
Davis went five innings and improved to 3-0. He allowed two unearned runs, five hits, struck out three, walked one and hit two.
Davis outdueled one of the Sailors' aces, Connor Seabold. Both are bound for Big West Conference programs, Davis, a junior, to UC Santa Barbara and Seabold, a senior, to Cal State Fullerton.
Seabold (2-1) struggled with his command during his five-inning stint, walking four. The right-hander went into the afternoon with 14 strikeouts in 11 scoreless innings.
The Oilers tagged Seabold for nine hits and eight runs, three coming on sophomore Logan Pouelsen's home run to right field in the fifth inning. Pouelsen, a UCLA commit, also drove in a run with a double to right-center field in fourth inning, as did Jesse Kuet, a Stanford-bound senior.
"It takes a lot for us to get prepared for [Seabold] because [he has] some good off-speed stuff and [he can be] overpowering with [his] fastball," said Pouelsen, who went two for two with four runs batted in.
Pouelsen pulled an inside curveball for his second homer of the season. The Oilers wound up scoring four times in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead.
They led from the start, going ahead in the second inning. With two outs, Dillon Millar, who went three for three, singled right up the middle for the Oilers. Seabold walked Pouelsen, and the Oilers took the lead on Clint Jack's single. Seabold then walked Kuet to load the bases.
Shaun Vetrovec kept the game close with a defensive gem for the Sailors. Vetrovec, playing first base, dived to his left, preventing the ball from going down the first-base line for a potential bases-clearing, extra-base hit. The senior rose to his feet and stepped on the bag to help get Seabold out of a jam.
Vetrovec, who went two for two with a walk, tried to get the Sailors going offensively in the third. He singled, but the Oilers turned a double play behind Davis.
The Sailors' two runs against Davis came on a two-out throwing error to first base in the fifth inning. Seabold, who went three for four, scored and Vetrovec did as well, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
The Sailors wouldn't get any closer. They had a chance to get back in it, down four runs with the bases loaded in the sixth, but freshman Hagen Danner, a UCLA commit, got cleanup hitter, Tk McWhertor, to foul out.
"Baseball is the kind of game where you just have to play your game, and that's what I'm selling to the team," Chalmers said. "I don't think our guys are afraid of any of those guys, and that's a good thing."
Huntington Beach 8, Newport Harbor 4
SCORE BY INNINGS
Newport 000 022 0 – 4 9 2
HB 011 240 x – 8 11 2
Seabold, Jabara (6) and McWhertor; Davis, Morris (6), Danner (6) and Murray, Williams (6). W – Davis, 3-0. L – Seabold, 2-1. 2B – Pouelsen (HB), Kuet (HB). HR – Pouelsen (HB).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun