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The Little Leaguers, who have scored most of their runs late in their
games so far, plated two runs in the first inning Thursday against San
Angelo Southern, then added six runs in the second to take the lead for
good at Chano Prieto Field.
San Angelo got two runs of their own in the first off Matthew Levario,
then got three in the fourth off new pitcher Patrick Fuentes before
Pecos put things away with a five-run fifth for a 13-5 victory.
The win moved Pecos into a 7 p.m. home game tonight against San Angelo
Western, with the winner headed to Ballinger on Saturday for the
district championship game. Ballinger defeated Pecos in the tournament
quarterfinals and Western in the semifinals, and a loss Saturday would
force a deciding game Sunday evening.
"Our bats are starting to warm up, and that's what we want, to start
getting in the groove and get ready to play in the championship game,"
said coach Lee Serrano.
Joey Ortega, who had the key hit in Pecos 8-5 comeback win at Christoval
on Wednesday, started the scoring with a two-run homer off Southern's
Oscar Samaripa, Jr. in the first, after a lead-off single by Tony
But Levario had control problems in the bottom of the inning. He walked
the first two batters, both of whom came around to score on a RBI single
by Michael Martinez and a dropped fly ball in right by Mario Rangel.
Walks and errors would help Pecos in their next at-bat. After Samaripa
quickly got the first two outs of the second, he walked Aguilar and
Ortega. Robbie Ontiveros followed with a two-run triple down the line in
left, then scored when Levario beat out an infield bouncer to shortstop.
He then beat the throw to second base on Barney Rodriguez' grounder to
third base, and after a walk to Freddie Torres, Rangel's hard shot went
under Robert Talamantez' glove at shortstop and to the fence. All three
runners scored and Pecos had an 8-2 lead.
Levario survived some trouble in the second, then had an easy third
before moving out to center field in the fourth, as Pecos' coaches tried
to get all their reserves into the lineup.
The defensive changes didn't hurt, but Fuentes had problems hitting the
strike zone, while throwing a couple of wild pitches as well in the
fourth that scored two runs.
"We tried to get all the kids in there to play, and got into a little
trouble," Serrano said. "Patrick had some trouble and Freddie was having
trouble handling his pitches (at catcher), so we had to bring Tony back
in and put him there."
Aguilar's return helped at the plate as well. He singled to score Rangel
in the fifth, and then scored along with Fuentes on Ortega's triple to
right-center off reliever Jerry Pilley. Outfielder Michael Hernandez had
trouble fielding that ball, and then let singles by Ontiveros and Robbie
Saldana get past him, allowing the final two runs to score.
Meanwhile, Southern loaded the bases in the fifth and got two on in the
sixth, but both times Fuentes was able to pitch out of trouble.
For tonight, Serrano said Rodriguez would probably start on the mound
for Pecos. He pitched four scoreless innings of relief on Wednesday at Christoval, as Pecos rallied from a 5-2 deficit for the win.
But that's not the case when Pecos faces San Angelo Lake View, the only
team Pecos' Senior League All-Stars will go on to face in high school,
during District 4-4A play.
The Pecos-Lake View rivalry was on display Thursday night at Maxey Park
during Senior League competition, and will be shown again Saturday
afternoon, when Pecos' Junior Leaguers try for the District 4 title with
a victory over Lake View in a 4 p.m. start.
In a hard-fought and game that had fans from both teams exchanging words
at the end of play, Pecos' Senior Leaguers used a trio of walks, a wild
pitch and an error in the top of the eighth inning to score a 6-3
victory and stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
Pecos will now face a 7 p.m. rematch tonight with Crane, which defeated
Pecos in extra innings on Tuesday at Maxey Park, 11-10. Tonight's game
will be in Crane, with the winner moving on to the tournament finals at
San Angelo Western on Sunday. Western downed Crane, 11-1 on Thursday.
Gilbert Fierro allowed just two runs over six innings in his first
pitching effort of the tournament. He left in favor of Pifi Montoya, who
came back after Wednesday's collision at third base and trip to the
hospital in Sonora to pitch the final two innings.
"Gilbert did a real good job," said manager Frank Rodriguez. "I was just
hoping Pifi could close it off so we could use him tomorrow."
Montoya couldn't save the game for Fierro, as Jeremy Ybarra's two-out
pinch single in the bottom of the seventh tied the score. But his
grounder through the legs of Gus Mastance in the eighth scored Pecos'
insurance runs, after Jason Payne had broken the tie by scoring on a
wild pitch by Oscar Solis. He then fanned the final two batters in the
eighth for the win, after David Rodriguez threw out Michael Gonzales
trying to steal after a lead-off walk.
Solis kept Pecos' hitters off-balance by throwing mostly curve balls and
a lot of them -- he was charted at 162 pitches in eight innings of work.
Pecos scored in the first on a Benny Juarez single and three walks, got
their second run in the fifth on a walk to Fierro and Joshua Casillas'
single, then took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Juarez singled and
Casillas doubled him home.
Lake View tied the game in the fourth off a Max Velez single and Lee
Morrison double, then knotted things at 2-2 in the sixth when another
Morrison double scored Velez, who was hit by a pitch. Morrison was
caught looking by Montoya in the eighth for the final out of the game.
Rodriguez said he wasn't sure who would start on the mound tonight in
Crane. By pitching more than one inning Thursday, Montoya is ineligible to pitch until Sunday's championship game.
Steinbrenner's newest pitcher got off to a rousing start, often seeming
unhittable in a 10-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. He threw 98
pitches, 61 for strikes and marched off the mound to a standing ovation
from the crowd of 51,901. He responded with a curtain call, waving his
cap to the fans.
Irabu dominated Detroit, allowing two runs on five hits in 6 2-3
innings. He struck out nine, eight in the first four innings, and might
have pitched longer except manager Joe Torre wanted him to get the
recognition he had earned.
``I did that so the fans could show their appreciation,'' Torre said.
``I thought about finding out the Japanese term for `Wait for me,' so I
wouldn't get booed. I just sent him on his way.''
Before the game, Torre met with his new pitcher and through an
interpreter, Irabu recalled the conversation.
``Joe told me not to overdo it,'' he said. ``Just go out and have a good
time. It was hard not to be nervous. I just tried to do what I was
That turned out to be plenty.
He struck out the last two batters in each of the first two innings,
getting all four hitters swinging. He struck out the side in the fourth,
two on called third strikes, the last one swinging.
As the strikeouts mounted, each one was recorded in several spots around
the ballpark by fans hanging ``K'' signs from the stands. One set in
left field and another in right field were in Japanese.
It was not as easy as it looked, Irabu said.
``Up on the mound in the first inning, all the ordeals of the last six
months went through my mind like a flashback,'' he said. ``Then I
thought I am part of a team. I have to do my best for the team.''
He did that, handling the Tigers and the scene with great poise. There
was only one shaky moment, when he allowed a run and loaded the bases in
the fifth inning, walking two batters.
That brought pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre to the mound for a
discussion that would be half-Japanese, half-English.
``He was a little wild, jumping out in front of his arm,'' Torre said.
``I told Mel to find out the term for `stay back' and tell him.''
Stottlemyre delivered the message and it worked. The rookie escaped the
jam and New York turned the game into a rout, scoring three in the fifth
and three in the sixth, batting around in both innings.
When Torre came to get Irabu in the seventh inning, first baseman Tino
Martinez just shook his head on the mound. ``He said it was remarkable
what he did with all the hoopla,'' Torre said. ``We knew it would be a
Irabu's debut attracted more than 100 Japanese media. The game was
televised live back to Japan, available in 35 million homes and on 35
giant screens in the country's largest cities.
For his part, Irabu was happy to get past the first game in this
``It was my first experience facing a crowd like this,'' he said. ``They
were all behind me and I had to accommodate their support.''
He let catcher Joe Girardi dictate the approach to pitching against the
Tigers. ``I followed his lead and his calls and I tried not to go
overboard,'' Irabu said.
``You couldn't help but be impressed with his poise and his stuff,''
Torre said. ``He wasn't afraid to throw his splitter anytime and he
showed a couple of different fastballs.''
Irabu's next start is scheduled for Tuesday. Sushi will be on sale
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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