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Monday, July 16,  2001

Junior League takes title, LLers ousted by Western

Staff Writer

The rematches were closer, but the results didn't change for either  the Pecos Little League All-Stars or the Junior League All-Star squad over  the weekend, in their District 4 Tournaments.

For the Little Leaguers, that meant the end of their season, as they lost to San Angelo Western for the second Saturday in a row, this time by a 9-6 final score. But for the Junior League All-Stars, it meant a trip to the Region I sub-sectional tournament, as they won the District 4 title by defeating North Concho for the second Sunday in a row, this time by an 8-7 final score.

Pecos' Little Leaguers had lost their district opener to San Angelo Western, 11-2, and then bounced back the following day to down Wall and San Angelo Southern to remain in the double-elimination tournament. They then defeated San Angelo Lake View on Saturday by a 7-3 score at Ballinger, but couldn't come back 90 minutes later against Western, as they missed on a bases-loaded chance in the first inning, then saw Western take a 9-4 lead before foiling a late Pecos comeback attempt.

Meanwhile, the Junior Leaguers had to hold off a couple of comeback attempts, first on Saturday, when San Angelo Northern cut a 7-0 deficit to 7-6, before two plays at home plate in the sixth inning preserved the lead in what turned into an 8-6 Pecos win.

Then on Sunday, they took a 7-2 lead on North Concho, a team they beat in their first meeting, 17-7. But North Concho then rallied to within one run as the Junior Leaguers left the bases loaded twice in the final three innings. But Edward Valencia was able to shut the door on North Concho in relief of J.D. Rubio to clinch the victory and send the Junior Leaguers to Odessa this upcoming weekend.

"I'm proud of the kids. They did a good job and got the tournament title. That's what I'm proud of," said manager Rene Rayos.

The Junior Leaguers took the lead in the bottom of the first inning and never trailed in their win on Saturday over Northern, but made some key mistakes behind pitcher Josh Anchondo in the fifth and sixth innings, after Anchondo's three-run home run in the four-run fourth that helped give the Junior Leaguers a 7-0 lead.

They had scored twice in the first inning, on a two-run single by Adrian Barreno, and added an unearned run in the third when Barreno scored as Jared Grubbs reached base, before another error by Northern on an Edward Valencia grounder with two outs set up Anchondo's three-run homer off Mason Surber that made it 6-0.

Another error, a Jacob Hernandez hit and two walks got Pecos their seventh run, but in the top of the fifth a late throw to first, a passed ball third strike and a dropped pop up got Northern on the board, and two more errors would follow as part of a five-run inning that cut the lead to one run off Anchondo, who went the distance to pick up his second tournament win.

Then in the sixth when Tyler Shockley and Tyler Freeman singled and doubled to lead things off and Surber reached on an error, Northern appeared ready to tie the game. But Kyle Canfield then grounded to Valencia at shortstop, who threw home to Barreno who tagged out Freeman, and then Canfield was thrown out stealing by Barreno, with Valencia then throwing home in time to get Surber for a rare double-steal double play. Pecos then added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a wild pitch, and Anchondo retired the side in order in the seventh.

Rubio got the win on Sunday, as he went 4 1/3 innings before tiring "J.D. did OK until the fourth inning, then he started slowing down a little bit," said Rayos. "He also did a good job at bat. He hit it to the fence twice."

Rubio had a pair of doubles in his first two at-bats, the first helping Pecos take an early lead while the second broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth. Valencia followed with an RBI single and after a walk to Anchondo Grubbs blooped a two-out, two-run single to widen the lead to 7-2.

Brett Bickerstaff's two run single in the bottom of the inning helped get North Concho back to within 7-5 and after a bloop single to center by Valencia in the fifth made it 8-5, a passed ball third strike with two out in the bottom of the inning set up another RBI hit by Bickerstaff to make it 8-7. Chris Rodriguez then singled, but Bickerstaff was unable to score and Valencia then got Travis Stevens on a fly out, and then used a diving catch by Hernandez in the seventh to end the game.

Up in Ballinger, the Little Leaguers tried to use the same two pitchers that got them victories last Sunday, in Chris Garnto and Josh Payan, to stay alive, and Garnto was able to shut down Lake View in the opener. But while Payan hit his second tournament home run in the nightcap against Western, he saw San Angelo take an early 1-0 lead, and then widen their margin in the later innings, despite a three-run homer by Gerald Saenz.

A couple of Western errors with two outs in the sixth allowed Pecos to cut the lead to three runs and get the tying run to the plate, but a pop-up to second base then ended the game.

Western moved on to face San Angelo Northern in the tournament finals, after losing to Northern earlier on Saturday by a 7-0 score.

The Junior Leaguers' win Sunday sends them into a 5 p.m. game on Thursday at Floyd Gwynn Park in Odessa against the District 1 (Amarillo area) champion in the 13-14 year old division. Rayos said the tournament will run through Saturday or Sunday, with the winner advancing to the sectional finals in Abilene on July 23.

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