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Matthew Lopez and Ralphy Velazquez power Huntington Beach to 2-0 regional championship win over JSerra

Scorebook Live logo Scorebook Live 6/4/2022 Connor Morrissette
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Lopez threw seven scoreless innings and Velazquez hit an eighth inning home run in the win.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. -- The plan was set in motion on Thursday when the Huntington Beach coaching staff chose not use pitcher Matthew Lopez in the Oilers' 9-2 semifinal win over Villa Park. 

“Let’s save Matthew for the championship game," Huntington Beach head coach Benji Medure told his pitching coach midway through the semifinal once starter Jack Smith began to lose steam. 

Lopez started for the Oilers in the Division 1 CIF State Southern Regional title game against No. 1 JSerra on Saturday and threw seven scoreless innings. An eighth inning Ralphy Velazquez two run home run and a scoreless bottom half of the inning thrown by Ben Jacobs clinched a 2-0 Huntington Beach championship win, the first regional title in school history. 

"It's typical of Matt to pitch well in big games," Medure said. "He's done it all year and I couldn't be more proud of him."

Lopez didn't just pitch well, he did something no pitcher has done since early March against JSerra: throw seven scoreless innings. Coming into Saturday's title game, JSerra, the Division 1 Southern Section champions, had won 10 games in a row. But Lopez shut them down. He gave up eight hits and used his defense to help him get out of jams to preserve the shutout.

"I like the pressure," Lopez said. "I do for sure. It creates a lot of excitement afterwards, but you never want to put yourself in pressure, but when I do, I like to sit back and get out of it no matter what."

It's been a big two week stretch for Lopez. The senior committed to play Division 1 college baseball at Northern Kentucky University on May 25th.

"This was my first game as a committed pitcher," Lopez said. "I just wanted to show what I can do and I'm really glad I got to be able to do that."

LATE INNING DRAMA

In the bottom of the sixth inning, JSerra senior JJ Hollis hit a one out triple, but Lopez worked his way out of the jam thanks to a ground out and fly out keeping the game scoreless. 

In the top of the seventh inning, David Horn came in to pitch for JSerra and struck out Tony Martinez with runners on second and third to end the inning. Lopez then threw a clean seventh to bring the game to extras. 

JSerra sophomore Matthew Champion came in in relief in the top of the eighth inning and gave up a single to Aidan Espinoza. That brought Velazquez to the plate and he put the barrel of the bat on a fastball, which lofted over the left field fence for a two run home run.

Medure wasn't sure off the bat if Velazquez had gotten enough of the ball to clear the fence.

"I was really doing that Carlton Fisk dance to get it over the fence as much as I possibly could," he said. 

Velazquez was more confident. 

"I knew I hit it well on the barrel, but I just kinda put my hands through so I knew it had a chance, but I'm just happy it went out," he said. 

GREAT OUTING FROM GOUGH

JSerra senior pitcher Tyler Gough got the start for the Lions and threw six scoreless innings giving up just two hits. He had four strikeouts.

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