LA North and Orange County: Oaks Christian 6, Laguna Beach 3

WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- When his teammates needed him most, Drew Hacker responded.

The senior captain for the Westlake Village Oaks Christian baseball team delivered a pair of timely hits and provided the Lions with a reliable presence on the diamond throughout Friday's 6-3 victory over visiting Laguna Beach in a Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinal showdown.

“When it comes down to leaders, no one is as important to our program than Drew. He went out there and got things done for us, no questions asked,” Oaks Christian coach Tim Penprase said.

Hacker did just that for the Lions (25-6) -- he got things done, on more than one occasion.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the first inning, Trevor Gretzky came around to score from third base for Oaks Christian on a well-executed suicide squeeze by Hacker. The sequence, along with a run scored by Brandon Evans beforehand, gave the Lions a 2-1 lead heading into the second inning.

Hacker was just getting started too. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, his pressure-packed single ended up scoring both Gretzky and Cole Taylor to extend the advantage to 4-1. Hacker scored as well, on a Nate Palace base hit, to give Oaks Christian a comfortable four-run lead.

“I'm out there to do a job, fill my role on this team like everyone else, that's all,'' Hacker said. “Stats don't mean much to me. I'm more concerned with winning. Everything else is a bonus.''

The Breakers (27-3) threatened in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Steven Harrison stepped into the batter's box. His grounder was fielded by Hacker, who combined with second baseman Blake McFadden and first baseman Gretzky to turn an inning-ending double play.

“Instincts took over,'' Hacker said. “The ball came to me, I turned and got it to Blake, who I trust with my life. He threw a strike to Trevor, who made one of the best picks I've ever seen.''

Phillip Bickford started for the Lions and gave up eight hits in five-plus innings of work. Travis Radke worked the sixth and seventh innings to pick up the save and secure the victory.

Bickford's counterpart, Chris Paul, did his best to keep Laguna Beach close. The UC Santa Barbara-bound ace ran into trouble throughout and lost for just the second time this year.

Oaks Christian advances to Tuesday afternoon's semifinal game against top-seeded Palm Desert, which defeated upset-minded La Habra Sonora on Friday, 6-4, in 10 innings. And the winner advances to the championship game on June 3 at Dodger Stadium.