Hart’s phenomenal playoff run would come to an end on a sour note on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium with a 3-1 loss in the CIF Southern Section Championship game to the number two team in Division I, Huntington Beach.
The game was expected to be a pitching duel as each team would have their best on the mound, Huntington Beach giving the ball to Noah Davis while Hart would counter with Jack Ralston.
Both showed nerves early as each allowed the
hitter on. Davis was able to escape the first without allowing a run, but Ralston was not as lucky.
Huntington was able to put up two runs in the bottom of the first including an RBI double by Logan Pouelsen, his 40th RBI of the season.
The top of the second started well for Hart as Robert Reeves, who hit the home run to send Hart to the championship, tripled to the center field wall to give the Indians a runner in scoring position to start the second.
The Indians couldn’t capitalize though as Davis found his stuff, striking out Mike Phillips, Dayton Provost, and Dillon Klement in succession to end the threat.
Ralston would settle down in the second retiring the side in order including a strikeout of Kyle Coburn with a powerful curve ball to keep the game 2-0 Huntington Beach.
He would have to work out of trouble in the third again after an error by shortstop Nick Hand to open the inning, but got a Dominic Abbadessa to fly out and Pouelsen to line into a double play to end the inning.
On the other side Davis began to cruise, retiring the side in order in both the third and fourth without allowing a ball out of the infield.
Ralston matched Davis in the fourth with a strikeout, ground-out, and then a got some defensive help from Austin Russ who made a catch in foul territory near the fence in the visitors bullpen to get Ralston out of the inning.
Davis continued to cruise for the Oilers, once again retiring the side in the fifth as Hart could seemed fooled by the good mix of fastballs and breaking balls for strikes, keeping Hart from reaching base until a one out single by Nick Plaia in the sixth.
Plaia advanced to second on a chopper to short from Nick Hand, then advanced to third and home on back to back wild pitches by Davis to make it 2-1 Oilers by the end of the sixth.
Huntington Beach would strike right back in the bottom of the sixth after a double by Pouelsen followed by a Tyler Murray RBI single, his second run batted in on the day, to make it 3-1 Oilers.
Ralston would get the final batter of the inning to pop out, leaving Hart down two with just their final three outs remaining coming into the seventh.
Davis looked like he would stay in cruise control to start the seventh getting Kaneshiro to roll over to short to put the Indians down to their final two outs.
Reeves made sure Davis would have to work though stroking the first pitch he saw to center to give Hart a runner on for pinch hitter Jake Lewis who would strike out, leaving the Oilers one out away from the title.
Davis would do what he did all game, fooling Dayton Provost to pick up his 10th strikeout of the game to give the Oilers their first Southern Section Division I title by a final of 3-1.
Ralston would pick up the loss despite pitching well after the first, striking out five while allowing just three runs on six hits, but the Indians offense just could not overcome the impressive performance from Davis who went the full seven, holding the Indians to just four hits in the game.
Nick Plaia and Robert Reeves were the only two Hart batters to reach base, as each had two hits while only one other Hart batter hit the ball out of the infield against Davis.