Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley is back in the driver's seat of the South Coast League's baseball race after knocking off host Mission Viejo, 8-3, on Wednesday.
The Cougars (17-5-1, 9-3 in league play), ranked No. 9 in the Southland by The Times, scored six runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-0 lead against No. 11 Mission Viejo (16-7, 9-3).
Capistrano Valley pitcher Kevin Stedman gave up only two earned runs and struck out eight in six innings to improve to 7-1.
The Cougars will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Diablos when the teams play Friday at Capistrano Valley. Jason Corder (7-1) is expected to start against Mission Viejo left-hander Steve Grove (3-4).
"We're getting more focused," Cougar Coach Bob Zamora said.
North Torrance can clinch the Pioneer League title outright and extend its league winning streak to 27 games with a victory today over visiting Palos Verdes Estates Palos Verdes (13-7, 9-2).
North Torrance (13-8, 11-0) has lost seven games by a total of nine runs, including a 1-0 loss to Encino Crespi, ranked No. 3 in the Southland by The Times, on March 23.
Ranked No. 10 in the Division IV coaches' poll, the Saxons have also dropped one-run games to Whittier, ranked No. 9 in Division II, El Segundo, ranked No. 4 in Division III, and Santa Fe Springs St. Paul, ranked No. 2 in Division IV.
North Torrance is getting the production it expected from seniors Kyle Pond and Shaun Keller.
Pond, the league's most valuable player last season, is batting a team-high .471 with four home runs and 25 runs batted in. Keller is hitting .432 with a team-high 29 RBIs.
The biggest surprise has been junior pitcher Kenny Campos, who improved to 5-0 with a four-hitter in a 7-4 victory at Palos Verdes on Tuesday.
Campos has been filling in for Johnny Silva, who went 8-0 last season but has been sidelined since dislocating his elbow earlier in the season.
Eagle Rock has won seven of the last eight Northern League titles and has advanced to the City Championship division playoff semifinals in each of the last two seasons. Still, Coach Eric Jacobson's squad isn't getting much respect.
After being seeded fourth in the 2002 and 2003 playoffs, Eagle Rock (14-3) was seeded seventh this season, which sets up a second-round matchup with second-seeded Palisades at 1 p.m. today at Palisades Park.
Eagle Rock defeated San Pedro, 22-7 1/2 in the first round on Monday. The team's top three singles players -- Mike Maarup, Bryan Rodriguez and Luigi Aquino -- swept their sets.
Palisades (11-2), which lost to Woodland Hills El Camino Real in last season's championship match, had a first-round bye.
The Dolphins are led by Chris Ko, a junior who sat out early-season matches because of shin splints but hasn't lost a set in league play.
Ko probably will be the top-seeded player in the City Section's individual singles competition, which begins on May 17, because Jared Drucker of Reseda Cleveland announced he would instead participate in an outside tournament.
Palisades will also have two of the top four seeded teams in the doubles division, which begins on May 19.
Thousand Oaks La Reina will have a tough act to follow -- its own -- in today's Fountain League championships at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena. The Regents set seven meet records during the preliminaries on Tuesday.
Freshman sprinter Emily Bibb set meet records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles with personal-best times of 24.18 seconds and 52.63.
The previous standards of 26.34 and 59.59 were set last season.
Another freshman, Laura DeCesare, set records in the 200 free (2:04.47) and 100 breaststroke (1:13.94), besting the previous records by more than three seconds in each event.
The Regents also established records in all three relays. They clocked 1:58.38 in the 200 medley to shatter that record by nearly nine seconds and went 1:51.04 in the 200 free, breaking that record by almost seven seconds. Their time of 4:05.78 in the 400 free was nearly two seconds better than the previous standard.
-- Lauren Peterson