Szymanski, El Camino Real Show Kennedy Downside, 10-3

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kevin Szymanski just keeps throwing that Isaac Newton, side-arm fastball.

The right-hander's pitches start out somewhere around third base, then float over the plate, where gravity forces them earthward.

Friends might call Szymanski "Sizzler," but his pitches look more like Fatburgers--until the bottom falls out.

"Hey, I struck out no one," Szymanski said, scanning the score book. "I just try to throw ground balls."

Mission accomplished. Szymanski tossed a four-hitter Tuesday to lead El Camino Real High to a 10-3 victory over visiting Kennedy in a Northwest Valley Conference opener.

In an early showdown of teams ranked in The Times' regional top 10--both with cumulative batting averages above .400--Szymanski allowed one hit over the last 4 2/3 innings as El Camino Real (5-1, 1-0 in league play) broke open a 3-3 tie.

It was the left side of the El Camino Real infield that did most of the damage and kept Kennedy (5-1, 0-1) at bay defensively. The grounders, you see, simply kept coming.

Shortstop Dan Cey had three hits, drove in two runs and was perfect in fielding five ground balls. Third baseman Justin Balser hit a two-run home run in the first to help stake the Conquistadores to a 3-0 lead and fielded six grounders without a miscue.

"Whenever Kevin pitches, I love it," said Balser, who drove in three runs. "He throws inside and everything just comes to me. It keeps me in the game."

It didn't look as though Kennedy was going to be in the game for long after El Camino Real tagged left-hander Tom Manning (2-1) for three runs on four hits in the first. However, a balk and an infield error in the third led to three Kennedy runs that tied the score.

Szymanski (2-1) and the defense settled down, however. A leadoff double by catcher David Bourne in the fourth was all Kennedy could muster thereafter. Szymanski walked four and allowed one earned run. Kennedy's last 10 outs were on infield grounders.

El Camino Real, which scored 10 or more runs for the fifth time in six games, scored a run in the fourth on a throwing error by Bourne to take a 4-3 lead.

The Conquistadores added two more runs in the fifth without benefit of a hit when Manning walked four. The key play, though, came with a runner at first and one out. Mike Smith sent a perfect double-play grounder to short, but Bourne was called for catcher's interference. Manning later walked two batters with the bases loaded to hand El Camino Real a 6-3 lead.

A two-run double in the sixth by Cey jump-started a four run rally that put the game out of reach.

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