Monroe High right-hander Robert Ballester has been waiting patiently for his shot at a start.
In the Vikings' 12th game, Ballester got the nod and promptly made Sylmar batters pay for it.
The junior held Sylmar hitless for 5 2/3 innings and finished with a two-hitter to lead Monroe to a 6-1 victory in a Valley Pac-8 Conference game at Sylmar.
Ballester (1-0), who has made four appearances in relief, proved himself worthy of a start.
"I was hoping for the chance and I finally got it," Ballester said. "I'm glad I took advantage of it."
Ballester held the Spartans (8-7, 6-2 in league play) hitless until Jimmy Lemos singled up the middle with two out in the sixth.
Monroe Coach Kevin Campbell decided to give Ballester the start after a good showing in relief against Grant last week.
"This was a big game for us and he deserved it," Campbell said. "He earned it. He's a hard worker out there in practice every day. He's got good poise and he's mature mentally."
After losing his no-hit bid in the sixth, Ballester, who struck out four and walked three, lost the shutout one inning later.
Trailing, 6-0, in the seventh, Sylmar scored when Monroe third baseman Jorge Dorado tried to end the game with a double play. With the bases loaded and one out, Dorado scooped up Mike Gabbert's ground ball, stepped on third base for the force out, but made an errant throw to first, allowing Jose Villafana to score.
While Sylmar batters were struggling against Ballester, Monroe batters weren't faring much better against Lemos (3-2), a senior right-hander.
The Vikings (8-3-1, 6-2) managed just two hits through six innings, but Lemos walked seven. Monroe capitalized on three of those walks in the third to score two runs.
"We had the opportunities and blew them offensively," Campbell said. "(Ballester) was coming up, throwing strikes and keeping the ball down to keep us in it."
The Vikings broke the game open in the seventh, parlaying four singles and two walks into four runs for a 6-0 lead.
With the bases loaded, Lemos walked Chris Stell to force in a run. Marco Alvarado (two for three) followed with a chopper to first baseman Oscar Mendoza. The ground ball took a wild hop into Mendoza's face, allowing Robert Perea to score. Dorado's line-drive single down the left-field line drove in the Vikings' final two runs.