With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh inning and Hart High clinging to a 2-0 lead over rival West Ranch, starting pitcher Jake Villar was pulled in favor of Massimo Vega, scheduled to start on Friday. Villar had no trouble supporting the move by coach Jim Ozella.
"I wasn't worried at all," Villar said. "When he came out, I told him, 'Win the game.'"
Vega brought the heat. He threw all fastballs and got consecutive strikeouts to secure Hart's 2-0 victory in a huge Foothill League game between the two top teams. Hart improved to 14-1 overall and 9-0 in league. West Ranch dropped to 13-1 and 8-1.
The batters from the two teams had gotten used to feasting on Foothill pitching, because the entire league is restricted to only playing league opponents. But for this game, the pitching was in control. Villar, a senior left-hander, retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. West Ranch didn't get a hit until the fifth. West Ranch starter Scott Baum gave up an unearned run in the first on two errors and gave up an RBI single in the sixth to pinch hitter Casey Hinajosa.
It was left for Vega to be the closer. "That was awesome," Villar said.
Thousand Oaks 10, Westlake 8: Max Muncy homered and Dylan Jackson went four for four to help Thousand Oaks improve to 17-0. Seth White homered for Westlake.
Crespi 10, Loyola 4: Leadoff hitter Jackson Benattar went four for four and scored three runs for the Celts.
Chaminade 6, Alemany 5: The Eagles scored three runs in the seventh to win the Mission League game.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 11, St. Francis 2: Christian Miranda had two hits and three RBIs.
Mira Costa 4, Culver City 0: Thatcher Hurd struck out eight and threw a three-hit shutout.
Vista Murrieta 5, Temecula Valley 4: Luke Bennett had two hits and three RBIs.
Irvine University 4, Beckman 0: Bobby Bangs struck out five and gave up five hits in the shutout.
Ayala 16, Claremont 0: Ayala hit four home runs, led by Troy McCain, who finished with five RBIs.
San Pedro 8, Carson 0: Zach Geiss threw six shutout innings.
Trabuco Hills 10, Aliso Niguel 1: Mason Molina struck out seven and walked one in six innings. He also hit a home run.
Dana Hills 2, Capistrano Valley 1: Rocco DiFrancesco had two hits for Dana Hills.
Los Osos 3, Etiwanda 2: Tyler Mohler had the walk-off hit for Los Osos.
Servite 4, St. John Bosco 1: Luke Honikel went three for three and Mike Santos homered in the Trinity League win.
San Juan Hills 9, San Clemente 5: Jack Finnigan and Chris Landaas each had three hits.
L.A. Wilson 5, Marshall 1: Cristian Perez scattered four hits to help Wilson ended Marshall's 28-game Northern League winning streak.
Sylmar 10, Canoga Park 0: Freshman Matthew Benzor struck out nine in five innings.
Villa Park 7, El Modena 0: Isaac Ontiveros struck out 12 in a complete game. Brady Watson had four hits and five RBIs.
JSerra 7, Santa Margarita 0: Eric Silva threw a no-hitter with seven strikeouts and three walks to give JSerra its 11th consecutive victory.
Orange Lutheran 13, Mater Dei 8: Ryan White homered and Max Andeel had four RBIs for the Lancers. Skye Selinsky led Mater Dei with three hits.
Harvard-Westlake 6, Flintridge Sacred Heart 0: Alyssa Thompson scored five goals and sister Giselle Thompson added another goal for the unbeaten Wolverines, ranked No. 1 in Division 1.
Westlake 2, Oaks Christian 1: Kylie Chung struck out 14 for the Warriors.
Santa Ana Mater Dei 57, St. John Bosco 54: The Monarchs (16-0) overcame a 10-point second-quarter deficit to win the Trinity League home game. The Monarchs' size and defense took a toll on the Braves (12-2) in the second half. Harrison Hornery led the Monarchs with 24 points, including six threes.
Santa Margarita 56, Servite 51: The Eagles improved to 9-1 with the overtime win. Andrew Cook scored 36 points for Servite. Luke Turner scored 20 points for Santa Margarita.
JSerra 51, Orange Lutheran 49: Robert Diaz scored 19 points for JSerra.
Brentwood 65, St. Francis 37: Zach Mellon finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 46, Crespi 42: Ben Shtolzberg led Notre Dame with 14 points.
Harvard-Westlake 66, Loyola 63: The Wolverines held on for the overtime win. Trumann Gettings scored 17 points.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.