NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Anthony Mizrahi originally wasn't scheduled to pitch Friday afternoon for La Cañada High in a nonleague game against host Hoover.
As luck would have it, the junior pitcher was given the starting assignment on the mound after original starter Cole Herzer missed practice Thursday because of a doctor's appointment. Needing a new pitcher, the Spartans turned to Mizrahi, who provided a pleasant surprise.
Mizrahi pitched his first no-hitter of his career and struck out 11 to lead La Cañada to a 10-0 victory.
Not only did the right-hander enjoy his finest moment on the mound, but he may have made a case for himself to be a part of the Spartans' four-man rotation with Rio Hondo League around the corner.
"I had struggled in my previous starts and I made some changes in my game," said Mizrahi, who hit a two-run home run and reached base safely in five plate appearances. "I just went out there and had to throw strikes and rely on my defense, which is one of the best around.
"I knew I had the no-hitter going after and I worked well with [catcher] Johnny [Selsor]. I also have to thank [assistant coach] Alex Valdez for helping me out."
Mizrahi struck out the final three batters he faced in the seventh to reach the milestone before being greeted by his teammates.
La Cañada Coach Dennis Ballard, whose team won its fifth game in a row, said Mizrahi came into the contest having suffered bouts of wildness. That all changed Friday for Mizrahi (1-0) and the Spartans (6-3).
"He's had problems with his control," said Ballard, who saw his team steal 12 bases. "He's been working real hard to improve, and something like this outing can build a lot of confidence for him and maybe get him in the rotation.
"He went out there and hit his spots and did it while under control."
Mizrahi retired the first seven batters he faced before hitting Jose Estrada with a pitch in the third inning. He then set down nine batters before walking Michael Zalin on four pitches with two outs in the sixth. After Mizrahi walked Zalin, he then hit Fidel Hernandez before getting Kevin Mendoza on a force at third.
Hoover Coach Joe Cotti, whose team dropped to 2-5-1, said the Tornadoes couldn't solve Mizrahi.
"He threw the ball well and kept us off balance," Cotti said. "He mixed his pitches real well and we didn't make any adjustments.
"He's the hardest thrower we've faced so far this season."
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring single by Mizrahi off Hoover starting pitcher Orlando Marin (1-1), who was removed after the first inning because of a sore right arm. La Cañada scored three runs in the second to make it 4-0. Matteus DeFaria singled to make it 2-0 and an error by the Hoover third baseman extended the advantage to 4-0.
DeFaria made it 5-0 on a groundout in the third. In the sixth, Mizrahi's two-run line-drive home run to left raised the Spartans' lead to 7-0 before Kevin Paynter recorded a run-scoring single to make it 8-0. The Spartans wrapped up the scoring in the seventh on a run-scoring ground out by Selsor and RBI single from Scott Moulin.