Before Monday's East Valley League baseball game against Sylmar, Grant Coach Tom Lucero decided to save his ace, Javier Delahoya, for today's game against Poly.
Sylmar, after all, was on a two-game skid and the team's best player, Olonzo Woodfin, is sidelined because of an injury.
"I felt Sylmar was down because of all their injuries," Lucero said.
The Spartans were down, but they knocked Grant out. Sylmar amassed 17 hits, including eight doubles, in beating Grant, 21-0.
Sylmar took a 3-0 lead after three innings and scored 18 runs in the next three. Jason Parker, who started for Grant, walked eight and didn't get out of the fourth. Three Grant pitchers walked 16 batters.
"Pitching has not been very good the last two years for me," said Lucero, who coached Grant and All-City pitcher Rodney Beck to the City Section 4-A Division championship two years ago. "I don't have pitchers that can throw strikes."
Delahoya (3-2) has four complete games and has been the Lancers' most consistent starter. But Lucero didn't want to use him against Sylmar then bring him back two days later.
"I don't do that," Lucero said. "I believe a young arm should go only seven innings a week. You're affecting someone's career."
Tight squeeze: Hey, move over guys. How about a little elbow room? Canoga Park, Reseda and Taft are crowding each other in the West Valley League race.
The Hunters, Regents and Toreadors are locked in a three-way tie for second with 4-4 records behind Chatsworth (8-0). Throw in Cleveland at 3-5 and things really get claustrophobic.
"There's a big log jam," Reseda pitcher Steve Brody said.
Said Taft Coach Rich McKeon, who inherited a team that was 1-14 last season: "Our goal from the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs. Chatsworth is probably impossible to catch now. Second place would be great."
Canoga Park and Taft will square off today at Lanark Park for at least a piece of second place while Reseda plays at Chatsworth.
Lights, camera, action: Bob Lofrano and the Chatsworth Chancellors should hire a publicity director. After winning the Colonial Baseball Classic in Orlando, Fla., on April 2, Chatsworth was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and later was featured on cable network ESPN's "Scholastic Sports America" program.
"That's all exciting," said Lofrano, whose team is sailing along with a 16-1 record. "We went across country to win that tournament and now we're reaping the benefits."
Reap on, fellows. ESPN will be filming at Chatsworth today and Thursday and again will feature the Chancellors on "Scholastic Sports America."
Hot streak: Since he cleared the red tape, Canyon's Cory Byars has been on a red steak. Byars, a transfer from San Jose, finally cracked the Cowboys' starting lineup and is batting .500 with two home runs, a triple and 12 runs batted in. Coach Rich Montanio had to be wondering whether Byars would ever get a chance to contribute.
"There was a mix-up with his paper work," Montanio said. "He wasn't playing until his eligibility was cleared up."
Specializing: Canyon's Golden League rival, Saugus, lost a pitcher when junior Chad Keene quit the team last week. Keene, who is a linebacker in the fall, said he wanted to concentrate on preparing for football season.
From whiff to whack: The first month of the season was not much to remember for Kennedy designated-hitter V. P. Pajcin. Off-season surgery on his left knee had left him struggling.
A second-team All-Mid-Valley League selection as a junior after hitting .417 with 5 home runs, 5 triples and 25 runs batted in, Pajcin struck out three times in three consecutive games.
"He just couldn't get in the groove," Coach Dick Whitney said. "He was really hurting. He probably tried to come back too fast."
Whitney even benched Pajcin and tried outfielder Shawn Madden, who was trying to recover from a chronically sore shoulder. Madden was not the answer, either.
At least, not at the time.
Two months later, Madden and Pajcin are back in the lineup--and contributing. Pajcin has raised his average to .282. Madden, a junior who batted .316 last season, is batting .370. Madden hit two home runs and drove in five runs in Monday's 14-0 win over Van Nuys.
Win some, lose some: Although Chatsworth's volleyball team failed to make the Palisades tournament final, some victories were significant.
Chatsworth split with Santa Monica, the No. 1-ranked team in the Southern Section 4-A Division, in pool play and beat Dos Pueblos of Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals. Santa Monica and Dos Pueblos were the only teams to beat Chatsworth in the preseason.
The only team Chatsworth could not beat was Palisades. The Dolphins beat Chatsworth, 15-13, in the semifinals and beat Santa Monica in the championship game.
Going with the flow: If it wasn't true, it would be comical, but Harvard baseball Coach Jim Brink wasn't laughing when the Saracens tied Pater Noster, 3-3, in a Santa Fe League game last week.