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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, April 18, 2003

Eagles take over third by downing Panthers

Staff Writer

They're not back to the .500 mark yet in the District 4-3A baseball standings, but the Pecos Eagles are back in third place. Now the next two games will determine if they deserve to stay there.

The Eagles improved to 3-4 in district play with their second straight victory, an 8-5 comeback win Thursday night in Fort Stockton over the Panthers. Meanwhile, the next two teams Pecos plays, Monahans and Greenwood, helped both themselves and the Eagles on Thursday, as each team clinched playoff spots with wins over Kermit and Presidio.

That put the Eagles a half game in front of the Yellowjackets and Blue Devils in the race for the third place playoff berth going into their 2 p.m. make-up game on Saturday at home against Monahans. They then host Greenwood on Tuesday before taking a week off prior to their final regular season game, on April 29 at Presidio.

"We're in the position where we control our own fate," said coach Elias Payan. "If we take care of business we don't have to worry about anybody else."

The Eagles, who had to rally from 4-0 and 5-1 deficits a week ago to defeat Kermit to stay in the playoff picture, had to come back from 3-0 and 5-3 holes on Thursday against the Panthers, who also needed a win to stay in the playoff race.

Barney Rodriguez, who has had first inning problems all season, had some more in Thursday's games. He gave up a leadoff triple to Jeremy Velasquez in the bottom of the first inning, then failed to cover first base on a Chance Bruno grounder to Rigo Ramirez, allowing him to reach first as Velasquez scored.

Bruno then scored all the way from first base on Isai Rojas' single to right-center field with one out, and Rojas would come all the way around when Angel Marquez' single to left got through Javier Ramirez's legs for a two-base error.

After that, Pecos' defense tightened up, committing only one more error, a bad throw by Rodriguez on a slow bouncer to the right of the mound by Marquez in the sixth inning, though they did get a break in the third, when center fielder Oscar Parada misjudged Terrance Ellis' fly ball into a double just before Rojas lined a home run over the fence in right field.

That put the Panthers back in front after Pecos had scored twice in the second inning and once in the top of the third off Bruno. Parada walked, stole second and scored on a single by Rodriguez to open the second, and after a walk to Matthew Levario, Rodriguez broke for third as catcher R.J. Bernal tried to pick him off second on a strikeout of Freddy Torres. The ball ended up in center field and Rodriguez ended up scoring.

Levario would later be doubled off second on a Javier Ramirez fly ball to end the inning, and the Eagles would then get Victor Reyes picked off second with one out in the third. But Jose Reyes followed with a double off the fence in left, went to third when Bruno's pickoff attempt sailed into center, and scored as Rigo Ramirez beat out an infield grounder to Velasquez at second base.

Pecos tied the game in their next at-bat. Rodriguez led off with a double, then scored on Torres' one-out single, and he scored on a passed ball by Bernal, following a two-out hit by Ruvel Carrasco. They then took a 6-5 lead in the sixth when Parada doubled off the glove of a diving Alfredo Agreaba in left field, and scored on Levario's two-out single to left.

Levario would drive in his third run of the game in the top of the seventh, after Parada made it 7-5 with his second double of the night, off Ellis, who had come on to relieve Bruno when he walked Jose Reyes and Rigo Ramirez on eight pitches to open the inning. Reyes scored on the hit, and after Rodriguez grounded to shortstop, Levario was able to put down a suicide squeeze bunt just in front of home plate, as Ramirez came home to give Pecos a three-run lead.

"When you're down two runs, anything can happen," Payan said. "Matthew was the perfect guy up there to run the play, and I knew he'd get the job done."

Rodriguez would hit Julio Pacheco with a pitch and give up a single to Quito Vargas in the seventh, but in-between Carrasco threw out Pacheco trying to steal second, and Rodriguez then struck out Velasquez and Bruno to end the game.

Rodriguez ended up with 10 strikeouts while allowing seven hits, and got help from all his infielders, with Levario getting Ellis on an infield bouncer to end the fifth inning after Reyes and Zo Serrano were able to throw out runners in the two previous innings after knocking down hard line drives.

"We learned from the first half," Payan said. "In the first half we probably would have taken it from the side and it would have gone through. Tonight, we stayed with it, fielded the ball and got the out. That's what we teach them."

The win improved Pecos' season record to 15-9 going into their game on Saturday against Monahans, which edged Kermit at home by a 3-2 score Thursday night. The Loboes and Eagles have split four games so far in 2003, but Monahans won the teams' district meeting, jumping out to 8-0 and 9-2 leads, then holding off a seventh inning rally by Pecos to win, 9-8.

Josh Anchondo, who shut down the Loboes over the final two innings in that game, is scheduled to get the start on Saturday, while Dimas Porras, who got the save that night, while beating the Eagles, 5-2 and losing 3-2, should be the starter for Monahans.

Pecos 0 2 1 2 1 0 2 8 10 2

Ft. Stockton 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 5 7 3

Rodriguez and Carrasco. Bruno, Ellis (7) and Bernal. W - Rodriguez (5-6). L - Bruno. E - Pec, J. Ramirez, Rodriguez. FtS, Bernal 2, Bruno. DP - Ft. Stockton 1. LOB - Pecos 5, Ft. Stockton 3. 2B - Pec., J. Reyes, Rodriguez, Parada 2. FtS, Ellis. 3B - FtS, Velasquez. HR - FtS, Rojas. S - Pec., Levario. SB - Pec., Parada, Rodriguez. CS - FtS, Pacheco. HBP - FtS, Bernal, Pacheco. PB - FtS, Bernal.

Eagle golfers to begin I-3A regional play

No Andrews. No Granbury. No Southlake Carroll.

That means the Pecos Eagle girls' golf team has an easier path to the state golf tournament than they've had to deal with for the past four seasons. But that doesn't mean the Eagles will have a clear path to state when the teams tee off on Monday at the Nueva Vista Golf Course in Midland.

Pecos' girls will play on Monday and Tuesday in Midland, while the Eagle boys will be over at Ratliff Ranch in Odessa for the two rounds of their Region I-3A tournament, with Pecos needing to make up ground on district rival Monahans and four other teams, based on district tournament results.

The girls have finished fourth or fifth the past few seasons at the Region I-4A Tournament in San Angelo. Dropping down to Class 3A this year rid the Eagles of three of their main rivals. However, the Snyder Tigers, who placed second to Andrews at regionals a year ago, also dropped from 4A to 3A this year.

Based on their average scores in district play, Pecos and Snyder are tied for No. 1 seeds going into Monday's opening round. But only one stroke back are the Breckenridge Buckaroos, who figure to be the main challengers to the Eagles and Tigers in Midland next week.

"Snyder and us are tied at 318 and Breckenridge is at 319," said Eagles' coach Tina Hendrick said. "They've got that one girl (Camille Blackerby) who had some real low scores, but other than that, I don't know anything about them."

Blackerby averaged 67 in her district tournament, the best among any teams at regionals. Pecos' Lauren Martinez, with a 74 average, is second.

As far as the other teams go, Hendrick said, "Monahans is the fourth place team." The Eagles finished 75 shots ahead of the Loboes in the final district standings. A total of 16 teams will compete at the regional tournament.

Monahans' boys finished 54 strokes ahead of Pecos in their District 4-3A Tournament, and go in to regionals seeded second behind Snyder, with a 298 average to the Tigers' 296. Pecos averaged 316 for their three rounds of district play.

"We're seeded sixth," coach Kim Anderson said. "But if our kids will go out and play at the level they're capable of, we can get up there and compete with Monahans."

Sal Nichols and Michael Nichols averaged 76 and 77 in district play, but the Eagles' other golfers will also have to get their scores into the mid-70s to give Pecos a chance at a trip to state. This is the Eagles' fifth straight year to advance to regionals, with their highest finish the previous four seasons in Class 4A a 13th place last April in San Angelo.

The three other teams seeded ahead of Pecos going into regional play also are out of West Texas - District 2-3A champ Slaton, which averaged 303 in their district tournament, and Seminole, which placed second to Snyder in District 3-3A with a 314 average, and Perryton, which averaged 315 while winning the District 1-3A title. Graham and Abilene Wylie are just behind Pecos with 318 and 319 district averages.

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