Shohei Ohtani isn’t the only baseball player from Japan creating excitement in Orange County. Ryusei “Lou” Fujiwara, a 17-year-old junior infielder at JSerra who came from Tokyo, is about as good as it gets in executing the fundamentals of baseball, whether it’s fielding, bunting or hitting.
He was a starting second baseman in the 2017 Little League World Series, helping his team from Japan, Kitasuna, win the world championship. Now he’s in his second year staying with a host family and his first season as a varsity starter at JSerra.
“I had so much fun that I decided I wanted to come back here,” he said.
Wednesday in the Boras Classic quarterfinals, he had a hit-and-run single to ignite a four-run first inning and added an RBI double in JSerra’s 12-5 victory over San Diego St. Augustine.
Fujiwara briefly lived in Arizona from age 2 to 6. He said his English has improved greatly during his stay here and he continues to learn other lessons, such as needing sunscreen when going to the beach.
“I got sunburned two days ago,” he said.
He’s an outstanding infielder but has transitioned to playing left field to get him in JSerra’s lineup. In Japan, he said he’d be practicing 12 hours a day with strict coaching. He’s going to be staying in the United States because he’s just committed to play college baseball for Cal Poly.
“When I was in Little League, I had my dream to go the Little League World Series, but I actually didn’t like baseball,” he said. “After I overcame hard situations, it’s now pure happiness to play baseball.”
Shortstop Jonathan Mendez contributed three RBIs, including a two-run double in the first inning for JSerra.
JSerra will play the winner of Orange Lutheran-La Mirada in Thursday’s 6 pm semifinals at JSerra.
Villa Park 7, Huntington Beach 2: Gavin Grahovac contributed a grand slam to help Villa Park advance to the Boras Classic semifinals on Thursday at 6 pm at Mater Dei.
Servite 4, Yucaipa 1: Mikiah Negrete keeps showing he’s one of the best pitchers in the Southland, striking out eight and walking one to shut down a good hitting team in the consolation bracket of the Boras Classic. Trevor Schmidt had a two-run home run.
Foothill 6, San Dimas 0: Cameron Kessel threw a complete game for Foothill.
Corona 9, Mater Dei 4: The Panthers used a grand slam from Ethan Schiefelbein in the ninth inning to win the consolation game of the Boras Classic.
Sierra Canyon 3 King 0: Jaden Noot was in top pitching form, striking out nine, walking one and giving up two hits to help the Trailblazers (22-1) come back after suffering their first defeat of the season Tuesday.
Chaminade 4, Simi Valley 3: Degan Hensley went three for three to lead the Eagles.
Corona Centennial 8, Roosevelt 6: Jacob Gudino finished with four hits and Bobby Benavidez added three hits for Centennial.
Fountain Valley 5, Downey 2: Tim Grack had three RBIs for Fountain Valley.
Cypress 4, Pacifica 3: Gabe Cobian’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning drove in the winning run for Cypress. Cobian and Matthew Morrell each had two RBIs.
Etiwanda 7, Rancho Cucamonga 1: Freshman Brady Ebel finished with two hits and three RBIs for Etiwanda.
Trabuco Hills 4, San Clemente 2: Bobby Gray’s three-run home run lifted Trabuco Hills to victory.
Loyola 4, Long Beach Millikan 1: The Cubs won the nonleague game.
St. John Bosco 3, Santa Margarita 1: The Braves picked up the Trinity League win.
Capistrano Valley 5, Tesoro 2: Owen Gless struck out six in a complete game. Michael Walshe had two hits and two RBIs.
Harvard-Westlake 6, Bishop Alemany 0: Avery Thau struck out 10 for the Wolverines.
Tustin 5, Crean Lutheran 0: Riley Kelly struck out 14 in six innings.