La Quinta returned Friday from a nine-day layoff, but Kennedy pitcher Chris Clark kept the Aztecs' bats on vacation.
The junior right-hander pitched a four-hitter, leading Kennedy to a 4-1 victory over La Quinta, the eighth-ranked baseball team in Orange County, in a Garden Grove League game at La Quinta High.
Kennedy (11-7-1, 5-1 in league) moved into first place by a half-game and the loss ended an 11-game winning streak by the Aztecs (14-3, 4-1).
"Chris Clark was just better than us today," La Quinta Coach Dave Demarest said. "The layoff had nothing to do with the loss. Kennedy beat us thoroughly; offensively and defensively."
Kennedy scored two first-inning runs with four consecutive hits against La Quinta starter Jim Livernois, who entered the game with a 6-0 record.
After La Quinta's Ken Granger hit a two-out home run over the left-center field fence in the first, Clark retired 18 of the last 23 batters he faced, striking out six and walking two.
La Quinta threatened in the bottom of the seventh, putting two runners on with one out, but Kennedy Coach Chris Pascal said he had no thoughts of pulling Clark.
"I just went out to the mound to maybe take away some of La Quinta's momentum," Pascal said. "Chris is a bulldog, and he's a guy who wants to be out there at the end of the game."
Clark got Sean Carlson to ground to short for the second out, then struck out Jose Trejo looking to end the game.
Clark, who also had three hits, two runs scored and a run batted in, scored on Charlie Marino's sacrifice fly in the fifth to give Kennedy a 4-1 lead. Teammate Steve Vetica added three hits and a run scored.