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Pecos, which had gotten to Dietz for single runs in four innings last
Tuesday at Lake View while pulling out a 4-3 win, struck for three runs
in the second inning on Saturday, then added more in the third, fifth
and sixth innings to back the 12 strikeout pitching of Capi Magana, in
a 9-1 win that allowed them to complete the double-elimination
The Junior Leaguers will now go to Snyder, where they'll face District
1's winner in an 8:30 p.m. game on Wednesday at Moffett Field, in the
Region I subsectional.
Magana allowed only a fourth inning home run to Greg Sercos, and despite
throwing a lot of pitches, he walked just four while giving up four hits
on the afternoon.
"We've been working with him to do a lot of running to try and get
stronger and to try and stay focused," said coach John Salcido.
Magana's only other start in the district tournament was against
Tri-County, where he picked up the win, but had to get out of
bases-loaded jams in two of the first three innings.
This time, other than a pair of two out walks in the second inning, and
a two out walk and single in the fifth, Lake View never got anything
going against Magana, while control problems bothered Dietz throughout
"They struggled with his curve ball, and he only had about two or three
walks," Salcido said. "He threw a lot of pitches (112), but he's not a
blazing pitcher so we don't have to worry as much about him hurting his
arm as we do with Richard (Rodriguez)."
Dietz survived two walks and a hit batter in the first, but in the
second Samuel Gonzales walked, stole second, then moved to third on a
passed ball by Warren Day and scored on a wild pitch by Dietz. Paul
Juarez then reached on a dropped fly ball by Justin Herrera, and scored
on Magana's single. He then came in off Richard Rodriguez' RBI double to
Mason Abila, who was 3-for-3 on the day, got Pecos' fourth run. He led
off the third with a single, and later stole home while Lake View was
trying to pick David Meline off second base.
Two innings later Abila would triple to center field to score Rodriguez,
who had singled, then scored Pecos' sixth run when Sercos couldn't field
Chris Natividad's bunt.
In the sixth, Jeffrey Saenz reached on an infield hit and scored on the
second of two dropped pop-ups by Lake View's infielders. They allowed
Omar Muniz and Roger Gutierrez to reach base, and they scored off
Abila's single and error by left fielder Brent Dendle.
This year is the first time a subsectional format has been used in
Junior League play, and the eventual winner will go on to the sectional
final this weekend in Abilene. However, any subsectional loss in the
double-elimination tourney will carry over to the sectional final
against the Abilene/Dallas-Fort Worth area winner, so it is possible one
or both teams would have to win two games at Abilene in order to advance to the state tournament in Waco.
Pecos, which had dropped into the loser's bracket of the double
elimination tournament a week earlier with an 8-1 loss at Ballinger, had
come back to defeat Tri-County, San Angelo Southern and San Angelo
Western on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They then went to Ballinger
on Saturday and scored a 12-4 victory, forcing Sunday's deciding game.
But the Little Leaguers couldn't solve the pitching of Ballinger's Tony
Aguilera, who no-hit Pecos for 4_ innings, while Barney Rodriguez
couldn't post his third victory in five days. Rodriguez had allowed just
one run in his first 14 innings of tournament work, but Ballinger scored
three times in the third inning and four times in the fourth for a 7-2
victory and the District 4 title.
"We were flat," said coach Lee Serrano. "But I'm proud of the kids, they
fought back. I knew it was going to be hard to keep them in there
mentally, but it just didn't work out. All that heat and travelling
finally got to them."
Rodriguez pitched four innings of shutout relief to beat Tri-County on
Wednesday, then shut out San Angelo Western on Friday, 6-0, adding a
solo home run and a three-run homer to the cause, after a home run to
begin Pecos' comeback on Wednesday.
Friday's homers came off San Angelo's J.O. Shore,who appeared as though
he would dominate Pecos' hitters at the outside. But Rodriguez gave
himself the lead with a one-out shot in the second inning, then put
Pecos in control with his three-run homer in the third, after singles by
Joey Ortega and Robbie Ontiveros.
He also had a homer in Saturday's win, in which Pecos scored four times
in the first and were only threatened once, when Ballinger chased
starter Ontiveros and cut Pecos' lead to 6-2. But Matthew Levario came
on to shut down the host team, allowing just one run the rest of the way.
On Sunday, Rodriguez retired the first seven Ballinger hitters in order,
before Hunter Simmons singled and Blake Hunt reached on a sacrifice bunt
attempt, when first base was left uncovered.
Aguilera then singled to left to load the bases, and Simmons scored on
Tyler Smith's fielder's choice grounder, as catcher Freddie Torres was
not standing on home plate when he took Ortega's throw from first base.
Rodriguez struck out Johnny King, but Hunt scored on a wild pitch, and
moments later, Aguilera came home on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
Rodriguez was replaced by Patrick Fuentes in the fourth, after Jeremy
Lopez doubled and Jason Stinnett singled to open the inning. He walked
Simmons, gave up RBI singles to Hunt and Smith around fielder's choice
grounders by Aguilera and King. Tony Aguilar had come on to catch at
this point, but he had trouble with Fuentes' pitches, as Hunt came in on
a wild pitch and Aguilera scored on a passed ball for a 7-0 lead.
On the mound, Aguilera had Pecos off balance. The lefthander struck out
nine and didn't allow a hit until pinch-hitter Robbie Saldana singled to
center with one out in the fifth. Fuentes followed with an RBI double,
but Aguilera came back to fan Lorenzo Serrano and Ruvel Carrasco to
retire the side.
Pecos had gotten a run in the fourth without a hit, when Ortega walked,
moved up on a passed ball by Zane Denton and a Aguilera wild pitch, then
scored on Levario's ground out.
"He was doing a good job keeping it down, but we just weren't patient.
We were trying to hit a 7-run home run every time up there," Serrano
Ballinger's win moves them into the Little League sectional tournament, scheduled for this week in Lubbock.
But Sunday afternoon, Pecos made way too many mistakes for any team to
overcome. They ran themselves out of two scoring chances while giving
San Angelo Western three big innings and 14 unearned runs on nine errors
in losing, 16-8, in the finals of the District 4 Tournament for 14-15
"They wanted it more than us," said manager Frank Rodriguez. "Their
heads were in it and ours weren't, because we just gave them the game."
Mistakes had hurt Pecos throughout the two-week tournament, including
last Tuesday's 11-10 loss to Crane that dropped them into the loser's
bracket of double-elimination play. They stayed alive with wins over
Sonora and Lake View, then avenged their loss at home to Crane on
Friday, with a 13-4 victory on Crane's home field.
That put them into Sunday's title game against Western, which was
unbeaten after an 11-1 win on Thursday at Crane. Pifi Montoya started
well on the mound for Pecos, retiring the side in order in the first,
before the mistakes began to pile up for the Senior Leaguers.
It started in the bottom of the inning, when Joe Robert Lara was picked
off third base with two outs, after he had singled to lead off and
Joshua Casillas singled off the fence in left-center field with one out.
Then in the bottom of the inning Gary Wells doubled and Shane Reed
blooped in a single to lead things off. Montoya got Brad Frantz on a fly
to right, and Scott Rosser followed with a pop up behind first base. But
Casillas dropped the ball, and the throw to third to try and force
Wells, who had not advanced on Reed's single, sailed into the dugout,
allowing one run to score.
Walks to Jeremy Gafford and David Werner followed, and two more runs
came in when Lara threw past first base, after forcing Werner on a
Michael McCarthy grounder to shortstop Jason Payne. McCarthy would then
score on Jon Anderson's double for a 5-0 lead.
Anderson would be one of the few defensive stars of the game, starting a
pair of double plays at shortstop to get Western out of trouble. Pecos
got on the scoreboard in the third, as Lara reached when Gafford dropped
his pop up to third and scored on Casillas' double. But San Angelo got
the run back in their next at-bat on a home run by Werner.
That also brought Gilbert Fierro into pitch, and he got out of the
fourth unharmed, while Pecos cut the lead to 6-4 in their half of the
inning, off singles by Payne and Montoya, a two-base error by McCarthy
in right field, a Bill Buckner-like error by Wells at first on Joey
Garcia's grounder, and a home run by Lara, after Anderson turned a
double play on Fierro's grounder.
But errors helped San Angelo score five more runs in the fifth. With one
out and after a Wells single, Casillas booted Frantz' grounder to first,
and Rosser scored both runners with a ground rule double. Casillas came
on to pitch after Jeremy Dewar's pinch single and got the second out,
but McCarthy beat out an infield hit to score one run, Anderson doubled
home another, and Western made it 11-4 when Payne couldn't handle Josh
Down by seven, Pecos rallied again. Singles by Casillas and Salgado and
a walk to Ivan Guebara loaded the bases, and Payne then singled to left,
scoring two runs. Montoya followed with a sacrifice fly, making it 11-7,
when the biggest error of the day for Pecos occurred.
Garcia chopped a single over Gafford's head at third base, which should
have put runners at first and second with one out. But Payne thought
Gafford had caught the ball, and started running back towards first
base. Garcia passed him, and was automatically out, and Payne was then
called out for taking off his helmet and leaving the baseline, to retire
Reed scored in the top of the sixth to make it 12-7. He singled then
broke for second on a 3-2 pitch to Frantz. It was ball four, but Guebara
threw to second, and the ball went into center field and then past
Garcia to the fence, allowing the run to come in.
Ricky Herrera got the run back in the sixth with a solo shot to left,
but Pecos' eighth and ninth errors of the day in the top of the seventh
put things away for Western.
After a bunt singled by McCarthy and a walk to Anderson, Morgan grounded
to Herrera. He stepped on third to force McCarthy, but passed up a shot
at Anderson at second, and threw past first trying for the double play.
Walks by Casillas to Paul Messenheimer and Frantz scored Anderson, and
then the bases were cleared after Casillas knocked down a hard shot to
the mound by Rosser and threw the ball past first base down the right
"I don't know what happened. We can hit the ball and field, but we just
made too many mistakes," said Rodriguez, as the Senior Leaguers lost for
the second year in a row in the District 4 finals. San Angelo Western will now advance to the subsectionals this week, scheduled for Lubbock.
The U.S. Women's Open, the tournament championship she wanted most, the
only major she had never won, had barely escaped her grasp.
If she had just shoved that 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18 an inch to the
left, she'd be playing an 18-hole playoff today.
Instead, by one stroke, the championship went to Alison Nicholas, a
stout 5-foot Brit who doggedly withstood Lopez's late charge.
The gracious Englishwoman smiled through the shouts of encouragement and
wild applause that greeted Lopez at every turn.
``It's understandable,'' Nicholas said. ``I tried to enjoy it, really,
by thinking that maybe a little of that applause was for me.''
And in the end Sunday, it was. The 35-year-old Englishwoman won one of
the great head-to-head duels in Women's Open history against perhaps the
greatest woman ever to play the game.
``She is a legend,'' Nicholas said. ``It was a pleasure to play against
When it was over, the two hugged each other long and hard. Along the
green, several of the top women's pros had gathered to watch. Most of
them were rooting for Lopez, who has brought her game back to the top
after four years of struggle.
At age 40, Lopez insisted that this was the beginning of a new era for
her at the U.S. Open. After four second-place finishes in 21 tries, she
vowed to again be a contender.
``It's a tough thing, because I've always wanted to win the U.S. Open,
and this was really, I felt, my time to do it,'' Lopez said. ``But I
think this is the beginning of many more good U.S. Opens for me ... I
think I finally realized what it takes to win a U.S. Open.''
Nicholas, 35, shot an even-par 71 Sunday for a 72-hole total of 10-under
274, the farthest under par of any competitor in the 52-year history of
the premier event of women's golf.
The old record was 9-under by Pat Bradley in the 1981 Open at La Grange,
Ill. Nicholas missed the low-scoring record of 272, set last year by
Annika Sorenstam, who missed the cut this year in her attempt to become
the first woman to win three straight Opens.
Lopez, with a final-round 2-under 69, became the first golfer to shoot
in the 60s in all four rounds of the Women's Open. Her rounds of
69-68-69-69 for 275, a score good enough to win every U.S. Open except
the last two.
Kelly Robbins had a 5-under 66 Sunday to finish third at 7-under 277.
Stefania Croce of Italy shot a 67 to finish in a tie with LPGA tour
rookie Lisa Hackney at 279.
Tammie Green had the day's best round, a 6-under 65, and was tied with
Michele Redman, who had a 69, at 280.
But they were simply afterthoughts to the main event.
Lopez could think of the what ifs: What if she hadn't been so confident
as to go straight for the pin on the par-3 15th, leaving the ball to the
right of the green instead of playing it safe, and taking a bogey that
put her two shots back?
What if that birdie putt on No. 7 had stayed in instead of curling
around the cup and lipping out? What if any of her other numerous
near-miss putts had fallen? What if she'd had cleared that bunker on No.
17 or made the eminently makeable par putt that came later on that same
And, mostly, what if Nicholas hadn't holed that 55-yard eagle on the
par-5, 501-yard fourth hole?
Lopez birdied two of the first three holes. Nicholas birdied one.
Lopez turned up the pressure by dropping her approach shot within a foot
of the hole. It was a sure birdie, and it looked as if Nicholas' lead
would shrink to one.
But the unflappable Brit took out a sand wedge and knocked it toward the
green. The ball took a couple of quick bounces and dropped in the hole
for an eagle.
``That was unbelievable,'' Nicholas said.
Despite birdies on three of the first four holes, Lopez was back where
she started the round, three shots off the lead. She was shocked.
``My birdie felt like a bogey,'' she said.
Around the course they dueled. With six holes to go, Nicholas had a
four-stroke lead and had yet to hit a truly bad shot -- until her
approach to the 14th green. It was a tiny shot over the water, about 50
Nicholas took out her sand wedge again, and promptly sailed her shot
onto the green and out of bounds in the thick woods that line much of
the par-71, 6,365-yard Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
``I think I had a bit of adrenalin behind it, because I can't normally
hit a wedge that far,'' Nicholas said.
She could do no better than a precarious double bogey. Lopez had a par,
and suddenly the lead was just one stroke with four holes to play.
That's why Lopez's bogey on No. 15 aggravated her so.
``That was my biggest mistake,'' she said of her shot.
But Lopez regrouped with a birdie at No. 16. At No. 17, a hole Lopez
birdied twice this week, both players struggled to bogeys. That left the
lead at one as they headed up an 18th fairway lined by perhaps the
biggest crowd ever at a Women's Open.
While Nicholas played it safe, Lopez lofted her third shot to 15 feet of
the hole. She carefully studied the path the ball would take, then
gently nudged it toward the hole. The ball slipped past about an inch to
the downhill side.
Lopez's pent-up emotion broke free. The tears began to flow. She could
barely see as she bent over her 5-foot putt for par.
``I had tears in my eyes, because I really didn't have a chance
anymore,'' she said.
Nicholas tapped in her short par putt, and the tournament was over. Her
caddie hoisted her far into the air. She jumped up and down a bit. But
her celebration seemed awfully subdued considering what she had just
``It hasn't sunk in yet,'' she said. ``I mean, whew. I'll probably start
dancing somewhere sometime, but I can't tell you when. I mean, it's
something that I've dreamed about, winning the U.S. Open. I shall scream
and shout somewhere.''
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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