Fresno State-bound center fielder Nick Villar is on a hitting tear for Lake Forest El Toro, and there's not much opposing pitchers can do these days to cool him off.
He had a double, two singles and two runs batted in on Wednesday night to help the Chargers defeat Anaheim Esperanza, 9-6, in a semifinal game of the Hard 9 National Classic at Cal State Fullerton.
El Toro (19-2) scored eight runs in the first two innings to take an 8-0 lead and earn a spot in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. championship game against Placentia El Dorado (11-5) at Fullerton.
The Chargers set the tone for their impressive start by aggressively attacking starting pitcher Scott Mason in the first inning.
Villar delivered a run-scoring double. Dan Conmy had a run-scoring triple. After a walk, Logan Roberts hit a two-run single. Jonah Arenado and Jayson Yano followed with singles during the five-run first.
Villar is making a strong run at tournament most-valuable-player honors. He hit his fifth home run of the season Tuesday and also had a double in a quarterfinal win over Carlsbad.
And hitting isn't considered El Toro's biggest strength. It's pitching depth, with ace Tyler Brashears (4-1) and junior Chasen Ford (7-0) leading on the mound, and when the Chargers hit as they did Wednesday, they don't expect to lose. Jordan Wirth struck out eight in 52/3 innings.
El Toro is in first place in the South Coast League and moving up in the Southern Section Division 1 rankings, entering the week ranked No. 4. Adding a National Classic trophy would make people take notice.
El Dorado gained its spot in the final with a 7-1 semifinal win over Florida IMG. Drew Winter had two hits and three RBIs. Cameron Yen gave up four hits in six innings to pick up the win.
Esperanza Coach Mike Curran was back in the dugout after missing Tuesday's quarterfinal game for being ejected while disagreeing with an umpire's call Monday. It was only the second time in his 33 years as coach that he has been kicked out of a game.
Brad Anderson had three hits for the Aztecs (13-3), who had won 11 consecutive games.