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LA South and Orange County: Lakewood, Torres do away with the drama

LAS FLORES -- Nick Torres was happy that all the high anxiety was left behind in the first round. The four runs that the Lakewood pitcher was vested with in the first inning Tuesday were plenty, but when his teammates added two more runs in the second inning, the senior knew he was living on Easy Street.

Torres gave up only one hit over six innings and the Lancers cruised into the Southern Section Division 1 baseball quarterfinals with an 8-0 victory Tuesday at Tesoro. It was a far cry from the 13-inning, 2-1 nailbiter that got Lakewood through the first round against El Modena.

The Lancers (28-4-1), champions of the Moore League, on Friday will play host to top-seeded Edison, which defeated Orange Lutheran, 4-3.

It was a disappointing end for Tesoro (19-14), which had won 14 of 17 coming into the game.

Torres (6-1) only struck out one before Darren Gidley closed, but he was only challenged once by the Titans, and that was his own fault. He sandwiched a walk between two hit batters and a fielder's choice. The shutout remained intact when center fielder Tyler Leidholdt's shoestring catch retired Tesoro's No. 3 batter, Conner Spencer, with the bases loaded.

"I got a little too comfortable," Torres, a right-hander headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, said of his third-inning letdown. "I started to lose focus."

Tesoro used its ace, Kagan Richardson (8-3) -- who pitched a shutout Friday against Westlake -- but he was hit hard. Five of the first six batters hit safely, Jonathan Pasillas, J.P. Crawford, Torres, Zach Alofaituli and Jake Worrell. The latter two doubled.

"He didn't throw that many pitches on Friday and he was able to bounce back all year," said Tesoro coach Rick Brail, whose Evan Cook pitched three no-hit innings before giving up a couple of runs in the sixth. "He is our best pitcher and he felt 100 percent. It was the right move, he just didn't have it today."

Torres did. He kept Tesoro off-balance with a slew of off-speed pitches.

"The key for Nick was getting the slider over for strikes," said coach Spud O'Neil. "When he's not doing that, he's average."

He was anything but average Tuesday.