Taft Falls to Sylmar in 1st Round as Voytek Serves Suspension

Times Staff Writer

Nathan Voytek, Taft High’s standout right-handed pitcher, sat helplessly in street clothes Wednesday as Sylmar pounded out 12 hits against his teammates en route to a 9-2 victory in a first-round game of the City Section 4-A Division baseball playoffs at Sylmar.

Voytek (6-1), a sophomore who has given up just nine earned runs in 55 innings, was suspended for the game by Taft administrators.

Taft Coach Rich McKeon, who seemed angered by the decision, would not comment on the reason for the suspension. Voytek was declared ineligible by the City Section on April 22 for violating the California Interscholastic Federation transfer policy. AFter an appeal, he was reinstated.

Sylmar (20-6) will play El Camino Real in the quarterfinals Friday.


Taft (8-19), which upset Poly in the first round last year, was never in the game.

Sylmar had eight hits, including two doubles and a home run, in the first two innings and built a 6-0 lead. The Spartans roughed up starter Cory Jacobson (1-1) for six hits before he was relieved by Mike Krasner in the second inning.

Robert Garcia led off the first with a single and James Encinas followed with a line-drive double--his first of two--to deep left field to score the Spartans’ first run. Jacobson then issued an intentional walk to Dereck Ornelas to get to Rene Navarro, a sophomore designated-hitter.

Navarro singled into center field and Encinas, trying to score from second, dove around catcher Stacey Kleiner, who was waiting with the ball, to give Sylmar a 2-0 lead.


In the second, the Spartans scored four runs on four hits, including Juan Flores’ solo home run, two walks and Cain Camarillo’s bases-loaded squeeze bunt.

Sylmar right-hander Jose Villafana (9-1), meanwhile, threw balls on his first five pitches and walked the Nos. 1 and 3 batters.

“That’s how I’ve been starting all the time,” Villafana said. “I don’t know why.”

The second walk prompted a visit to the mound by Coach Gary Donatella, who told Villafana to loosen up, relax and to stop guiding his pitches.

Villafana was helped out of the jam by third baseman Garcia, who fielded Jason Biller’s bunt and threw a strike to first baseman Encinas to end the inning.

Three of Taft’s four hits came in the third inning and helped cut Sylmar’s lead to 6-2. Warren Peck led off with a triple to right field. Darnell Hendricks drove him in with a single to left, and Kleiner blooped a two-out single over second baseman Jimmy Lemos to score Hendricks.

The Spartans added one run in the fourth and two in the sixth.

Navarro, who went three for three with two runs batted in, tripled into right-center field in the sixth and never broke stride as he rounded third, scoring on an overthrow by center fielder Hendricks, who was trying to hit the cut-off man.


Encinas, who pitched two shut-out innings in relief, went three for four with three RBIs and three runs scored.