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"That turned the game around. I guarantee you, that turned the game
around," an angry Williams said Thursday, following his team's 5-1 loss
in Big Spring to the Steers.
"We didn't hit the ball, but those calls turned the momentum," he said.
The three calls, two with two out in the top of the third and one in
the bottom of the third, took away one run from Pecos, and helped set up
the first two runs of the game for the Steers, who tied Pecos and San
Angelo Lake View for third in the District 4-4A standings with their
Playing with wind gusts of over 40 mph blowing in from right field,
Hull got in trouble with two outs in the third, when Cisco Rodriguez
blooped a wind-blown hit over first base, and Jason Abila's high pop up
blew away from second baseman Wes Mouton near the mound. Hull then
walked Lucio Florez on a 3-2 pitch, the came back to get two quick
strikes on Mark Abila.
But the Steers pitcher then came inside with a curveball to Abila and
hit the Eagles' batter, forcing home a run.
The home plate umpire ruled Abila failed to try and get out of the way
of the pitch, and ordered him back to home plate. That angered Williams,
and the call was compounded when the same thing happened with none on in
the sixth inning, and Abila was awarded first base.
Call No. 2 came two pitches later, when Hull's pitch bounced by catcher
Clayton Pate. Rodriguez tried to score from third on the play, but was
ruled out, though Williams said Hull dropped the ball on the tag.
"They said they didn't see it. Neither one of them said they saw the
ball, while he's picking it up," Williams said.
The third call came after Moses Martinez walked the Steers' No. 9
batter, Marcus Hyatt, to lead off the bottom of the third. Mouton laid
down a sacrifice bunt that Martinez threw slightly wide to first base.
Second baseman Nestor Mendoza appeared to keep his foot on the bag long
enough for the out, but the call went the other way.
"Those calls just killed us," said Williams, though after that play,
the Eagles killed themselves as well.
Aaron Boadle's sacrifice bunt moved both runners up, and Hyatt then
scored when Mark Abila's pickoff throw sailed past third base into
leftfield. Doe then caught the Eagles' defense napping, as Eric Hansen
laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Mouton, and ended up with a
single when first base was left uncovered.
The only `clean' run of the day came in the fourth, when Pate led off
with a home run to left field. That made it 3-0 and led Williams to
replace Martinez on the mound with Louis Valencia.
It was the third straight start in which the junior has struggled.
Mouton led off the first inning with a single, but was later thrown out
trying to score on a wild pitch by Martinez. In the second, leadoff
hitter Luis Lopez doubled past a diving Oscar Luna in center field, but
he was able to recover and throw Lopez out trying to stretch it into a
Valencia struggled in his varsity debut on Tuesday against Fort
Stockton, but fared better this time, allowing no earned runs in three
innings of work.
But he was sabotaged by his defense in the fifth, when the Steers put
across their insurance runs. Jason Abila had three errors on the day at
shortstop, throwing two two-out grounders past first baseman Joseph
Strain. That scored one run, while Doe victimized Strain and second
baseman Nestor Mendoza on the other, pulling off a double steal in which
Hansen was able to score from third.
Hull, meanwhile, was doing to the Eagles what San Angelo's Jason Wiley
did last season -- perplex every batter not named Richard Gutierrez. The
Eagles' third baseman was robbed of a single in the third by Mouton,
then doubled and tripled into the wind in the fifth and seventh innings.
Rodriguez did figure out Hull in time to avoid the shut out, singling
to left with two strikes and two outs in the seventh to score Gutierrez.
But Hull, who had given up seven runs in 3_ innings at home to Andrews
two days earlier, got Jason Abila on a comebacker to the mound to end
The 2-3 Eagles would be a game up on Big Spring and Lake View, and tied
for second with Fort Stockton, were it not for the 11-2 home they had to
forfeit against Sweetwater to open district play. Pecos will now have to
try and get a win from Sweetwater again, this time on the Mustangs' home
field, in a 1 p.m. start on Saturday.
Williams was unsure of his starter this morning, but did say he would be
without both Gutierrez and his brother, John, who'll be attending a
wedding on Saturday. Sweetwater's last game was a 13-0 loss at San
Angelo on Tuesday.
Belew offered that advice Thursday, after it was announced Ritchey's
Sweetwater team would be the focus of attention for the man who directed
the acclaimed basketball documentary ``Hoop Dreams'' next season.
After considering 20 West Texas towns, Peter Gilbert -- who directed the
film that followed two Chicago basketball stars through four years of
high school -- and his staff are closer to beginning production in
Sweetwater following approval of the plan Tuesday night by the
Sweetwater ISD school board.
There is no date to begin filming, and executive producer Gilbert has
yet to put together funding. He expects that to fall into place now that
the site is set.
``I think they wanted a smaller town and a place with a football
tradition,'' said Ritchey, who has taken his team to the playoffs in 10
of his 11 years at Sweetwater.``I think the actual name of Sweetwater
has a ring that sounds Texas to somebody in New York City.''
But before the cameras could start rolling, Gilbert's crew had to
persuade locals they weren't wasn't out to make another ``Friday Night
Lights,'' the best-selling book that looked at Odessa's love of football
but exposed problems that went with it.
Belew, who just completed his first season as Pecos' head football
coach, and Ritchey are both in Andrews today, working at the District
4-4A track meet. And the Eagles' coach, who was an assistant on Gary
Gaines' Odessa Permian coaching staff during the season chronicled by
``Friday Night Lights'' saw both positive and negative aspects of
"My experience turned out to be negative," said Belew, "I'd just tell
him to proceed with caution and watch what you say.
"Hopefully, it will be a good thing to promote high school athletics,
because I believe Texas high school athletics are the best in the
"Obviously, there are some problems (in high school athletics) but the
good outweighs the bad," he added.
John Pennington was the only Sweetwater ISD school board member who
voted against the project. He didn't like giving filmmakers the same
unlimited access ``Friday Night Lights'' author H.G. ``Buzz'' Bissinger
had for his insider portrayal of the 1988 season at Permian High School
in Odessa, just 120 miles west.
The filmmakers will be allowed to attend virtually every school-related
activity through April 1998.
``It's a fact that there's no way that any of the school administration
or the coaching staff has any editorial power at all,'' Morgan said.
``It's totally non-existent.''
Pennington said he also is worried that economic pressures may influence
Morgan to give the film more of an edge.
``I think (Morgan) is most honorable and is shooting straight and
telling us what he wants to do,'' Pennington said. ``But what I
understand is this project will cost in excess of $800,000. If you and I
invest that kind of money, you and I want a return.''
Belew said that's what happened with Bissinger's book.
"The only thin Buzz ever admitted was that his first draft was rejected
by his editor. He told me he wanted him to `spice it up'," Belew said.
"He exposed some negative things, but a lot of that looked negative
because it was taken out of context," the Eagles' coach added.
Sweetwater actually was chosen as the site for the film by Brett Morgan,
a New Yorker who will share directing duties with two-time Academy Award
winner Barbara Kopple.
``I was trying to find a town with the right chemistry, a town that
celebrates the right kind of tradition, pride and support in the town's
high school football program,'' Morgan told trustees. ``Sweetwater fit
this mold better than any other we could find.''
Morgan told the board that producers would control content, but he
stressed they plan a positive look at Sweetwater.
``I have no hidden agenda,'' Morgan said. ``I am not out to judge the
kids, the school or the town.''
Ritchey, an avid supporter of the documentary, said he trusts Morgan,
although he admitted ``Friday Night Lights'' was the first thing that
crossed his mind when Morgan approached him.
``We've not been assured it's not going to be (negative),'' said
Ritchey, who arrived here after the school's lone championship in 1985.
``What we've been assured is that it's a positive look at Texas
Morgan is filming a boxing-related movie in New York, while Kopple won
Oscars for her work on ``Harlan County, U.S.A.'' in 1977 and ``American
Dream'' in 1990. She also produced the NBC documentary ``Fallen Champ:
The Untold Story of Mike Tyson.''
``Friday Night Lights'' may also be headed for the big screen. Ron
Howard's production company, Imagine Entertainment, owns the movie
rights to Bissinger's book. Filming has yet to begin.
Pecos' boys will hope to do the same Saturday morning, in the final
round of their 54-hole 4-4A tournament, set for Comanche Trails at Big
Pecos' girls have only an outside shot of earning a regional tournament
berth going into the final round, as they trail district-leading Fort
Stockton by 46 strokes and second place Andrews by 32. However, playing
the familiar Reeves County Golf Course, the Eagles could catch third
place Big Spring, the first round tournament leader. Both teams shot
373s in the last round, on April 3 at San Angelo.
Coach Tina Hendrick said the tournament would tee off at 9 a.m.. It
should run through about 2 p.m.
Pecos' boys won't have the home course advantage Saturday, but they
have played both Big Spring courses earlier this season, and coach Joe
Wheeler hopes the Eagles can catch Sweetwater for sixth in the final
4-4A standings. The Mustangs took advantage of playing on their own
course last Saturday to pass Pecos in the team standings.
Andrews holds a ine shot lead over Fort Stockton in the team stadings,
with a 623 score. San Angelo Lake View is two strokes behind the
Panthers at 631, while the Eagles are at 690 after 36 holes of play.
League president Steve Reyes said Bob Sadler, owner of Big A Auto Parts
in Pecos, would throw out the first ball as part of the opening
ceremonies, set for 10 a.m. on Saturday. That would be followed by the
first game of the year, featuring the Cardinals and Red Sox, at 12 noon.
All 10 of the ~`A' division teams will play Saturday, with the other
games set for 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
The stands at the field have been completely redone since last year,
with coverings put over the fans for the first time. The change is one
of several improvements made to the field in recent years, and will give
fans some shade from the Spring and Summer sun. Coaches were scheduled
to meet at the field tonight at 7 p.m. for some final grounds work
before Saturday's openers.
Regular season play for the ~`A', `B' and `C' divisions will run
through June, with the Little League All-Star team beginning District 4
play the first week of July.
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