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Monday, July 23,  2001

Pecos' hitters wake up too late to avoid losses

Staff Writer

The Pecos Junior League All-Stars waited about one inning  too long to break out of a two-day hitting slump at the  sub-sectional tournament over the weekend in Odessa, and as a result saw  their season come to an end, but not before almost wiping out a nine-run  deficit on Saturday against Borger.

Post pitcher Randon Blacklock baffled Pecos' hitters on Friday, as he used a combination of overhand, three-quarter arm and sidearm fastballs and curveballs to two-hit Pecos in an 8-0 win. Then on Saturday, Pecos' bats picked up a little bit, but nowhere near enough to stay with Borger for the first six innings of their elimination round game. The Junior Leaguers were within one run of losing in five innings under the 10-run rule, as they trailed at one time 15-6 before coming up just short with a seven-run rally in the seventh inning of a 15-14 loss.

"We just waited too long for everything," said manager Rene Rayos. "We started out hitting the ball too late, and that was what hurt us big time."

Pecos has beaten Borger in the tournament opener by an 11-4 score, but because Midland dropped out, that meant Post drew a first round bye and got to throw their No. 1 pitcher, Blacklock, against the Junior Leaguers, while Borger took Friday off, and was able to use three new pitchers on Saturday. Pecos, meanwhile, went with Edward Valencia, who pitched effectively for an inning against Borger and Post, but couldn't go with J.D. Rubio, who threw Friday's game against Post and was ineligible to pitch on Saturday.

Valencia lasted just one inning and was touched for five Borger runs. Pecos got four of those back in their next at-bat before Valencia was replaced by Eddie Vela on the mound. But he fared no better against Borger's hitters, and was also hurt by a series of Pecos throwing errors before Josh Anchondo came in. He had pitched five innings to beat Borger on Thursday and shut them down over the final 2 1/3 innings in what appeared to be just a mop-up job, as the Junior Leaguers did litter over the middle innings against reliever Joseph Abel.

He came on in the second inning after Pecos cut Borger's lead to 5-4 and allowed just three runs over the next five innings. He got out of a couple of jams in the fourth and sixth innings, and went into the top of the seventh ahead 15-7 but this time the Junior Leaguers were able to chase Abel from the mound after a leadoff walk to Joey Hernandez and singles by Joseph Jaquez, Jared Grubbs and Rubio made it 15-9.

Roque Estrada came on to pitch and was greeted by a two-run single by Valencia, making it 15-11. He walked Anchondo, then gave up an RBI single to Vela before Barreno scored Anchondo with a sacrifice fly to make it 15-13. Estrada then got the second out when he caught Edgar Villescas looking with a 3-2 pitch, but Hernandez then reached on a two-out error by shortstop Kellan Lane, scoring Vela to make it 15-14, then hit Julio Orozco with a pitch to put the tying run in scoring position. But Estrada survived, striking out Grubbs on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Valencia and Vela had problems all day with the top part of Borger's batting order Michael Vidrine, Michael Vance and Lane all singled and Taylor Boren tripled in their five-run first inning, while in the second Lane and Vance singled, Boren walked, Estrada was hit by a pitch and Steven Johnson then circled the bases on a single, when the ball bounced away from Barreno on a play at the plate on Boren and was then thrown into left field trying to get Estrada at third base.

"The other team was hitting the ball today and you've got to give them credit. The only one that was able to shut them down was Josh," Rayos said.

Pecos got their four runs in the second when Vela reached base on an error then scored when Barreno's single was misplayed in the outfield. Walks to Isaac Gutierrez and Hernandez followed, before Grubbs had a one-out single, and Rubio and Anchondo walked with the bases loaded.

Abel came on in relief of Edsel Rodriguez in the inning, and allowed two runs in the fourth, when he hit Grubbs and Rubio and then gave up an RBI single to Valencia, followed by another run-scoring error, and one more run in the sixth on another RBI hit by Barreno. But both times, Pecos had two runners on with none out and couldn't come up with the big inning.

They left the bases loaded three times on Friday against Post, almost all of those runners coming on walks. Blacklock allowed just a one-out single by Barreno in the third inning and a one out hit by Gutierrez in the sixth.

"We were just flat out there in the field and at bat," Rayos said. Blacklock walked eight and hit two other batters, but balanced that out with 10 strikeouts.

Post got all the runs they would need in the second, as a pair of errors and a passed ball led to two unearned runs. They added four more runs in the fifth inning, on a sacrifice fly by Blacklock after a hit batter and a single, and those were followed by an RBI single by Theo Paez, a bloop hit by Justin Williams and a two out, two-run single by Stace Norman.

Those runs all came off Rubio, who took the loss. Valencia pitched a scoreless sixth, but Vela allowed two runs in the seventh off a single by Blacklock, a walk to Paez, a double-steal followed by a run-scoring passed ball and a fielder's choice grounder by Andrew Espinoza, as Paez beat the throw home.

Despite the back-to-back losses, Rayos said, "I'm proud of the kids. We weren't even going to have a (Junior League) season, so I thought they did great, and I want to thank the sponsors for helping us out this year."

Pecos girls finish fifth in Odessa softball play

Pecos' 12 and under girls softball team had a long, long day of play on Saturday at the West Texas All-Star Softball Tournament in Odessa, and a much shorter one on Sunday, when they lost an early morning game and ended up tied for fifth in the tournament standings.

The team played one practice game Friday night at the UTPB Softball Complex in Odessa, played another one early Saturday morning and then played three regular tournament games Saturday afternoon and evening in the 16-team tournament.

"After the (last) Saturday game, we didn't get back to the motel room until 1:10 a.m.," said coach Raul Palomino, as Pecos dropped their midnight game to Odessa `A,' 8-0, after opening the tournament with an 8-2 win over Jal, N.M. and a 9-5 victory over Lubbock. On Saturday morning, Pecos lost in the Saturday morning game to San Angelo `A' by an 8-4 final score.

"The girls did really good," said Palomino of the fifth place effort. The team had placed third earlier this summer in a tournament at Andrews, and split their practice games in Odessa, losing to Snyder on Friday before beating Greenwood Saturday morning.

He also thanked those who had helped out and sponsored the team for the summer tournaments. Pecos was scheduled to have two teams in the Odessa tournament, but the 14 and under squad did not participate.

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