El Camino Real Writes New Script for Taft : High school baseball: Conquistadores make sure Toreadors don't pull off another upset, 8-2.


Somebody from El Camino Real High was busy pumping change into a photocopier Thursday.

The result on the field?

No duplication whatsoever, which meant quite a change indeed.

El Camino Real, which had its 13-game winning streak halted by Taft on Tuesday, battered the Toreadors, 8-2, in a West Valley League game and clinched a share of the league title. The Conquistadores (17-2, 13-1 in league play) also clinched the league's top playoff seeding.

For Taft, it was evident early that no Xeroxed performance of Tuesday's 2-1 upset was in the offing. El Camino Real shortstop Dan Cey pulled a two-run homer over the fence in left in the first inning.

Right-hander Kevin Szymanski (8-1) cruised into the seventh with a three-hit shutout before Taft (16-7, 7-7) scored two earned-but-tainted runs to end his scoreless-inning streak at 26 1/3. He gave up five hits, struck out four and walked three.

His review? Thumbs down.

"It was my worst outing of the year," said Szymanski, who has given up three runs over the past 38 innings. "The ball wasn't moving, I couldn't find my release point. . . . It was easily my worst game."

That wasn't the worst of it for Taft, because there was salt to be rubbed in the wound.

Somehow, a photocopied cartoon of an El Camino Real ballplayer doing a Rambo act on Taft was circulated in the stands.

Taft players, some identified by name and number, were depicted in various degrees of death and dismemberment. Even Taft Coach Rich McKeon and the school's student body were blown to bits. Some of it was humorous, some in poor taste.

Copies were everywhere: in the hands of students, planted in strategic places in the stands, and of course, one eventually turned up in the Taft dugout.

"We expect that from El Camino," cracked Taft infielder Brandon Witkow, who seemed to take the cartoon in good fun.

Witkow accounted for Taft's first three hits, but it was his throwing error in the third that helped put El Camino Real over the top.

With the bases loaded, one out and El Camino Real holding a 2-0 lead, Randy Wolf sent a chopper to Witkow at third.

In an attempt to get the lead runner, Witkow fired in the dirt to home for an error, allowing a run to score. Before reliever Stacy Kleiner could clean up the mess, El Camino Real had scored three times--without the benefit of a hit.

El Camino Real, which entered the week ranked fourth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, scored three in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Chris Seal, Jeff Astgen and Cey to take an 8-0 lead.

As for the demise of its winning streak, El Camino Real isn't exactly in mourning--or looking back.

"We've already agreed that (losing) was a good thing," said Cey, who drove in three runs. "We've been lackadaisical, sloppy.

"Guys went into the games figuring, 'Somehow, we'll still win this thing.' "

Once again, somehow, they did.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World