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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

LLers survive lost leads, win 11-12 District 4 title

Staff Writer

The Pecos Little League All-Stars owned the first half of their three games against San Angelo Northern over the weekend at Northern’s Little League complex, and as it turned out, they did just good enough in the sixth inning of the first and final games to earn the Little Leaguers the 11-12 year-old District 4 title.

Pecos had 7-2, 15-8 and 11-2 leads midway through their games with Northern on Saturday and Sunday. But all three times, those leads vanished by the bottom of the sixth inning. Northern scored seven times in the fifth inning on Saturday to grab a 9-7 lead, nine times in the fifth on Sunday morning to take a 17-16 lead and six times in the fifth and twice in the sixth later in the day to tie the score at 12-all.

But with the last at-bat in all three games, Pecos was able to come through twice, winning Saturday’s opener on a bases-loaded walk, 10-9 in the bottom of the sixth, and then after falling a run short on Sunday morning, using a bloop single by Raul Ortega in the bottom of the sixth to win the deciding game of the double-elimination tournament by a 13-12 final score.

The win put the 11-12 year olds into the West Texas Sectional Tournament, starting Thursday in Abilene. Pecos will face the host Dixie All-Star team in their opening round game, at 6 p.m., with the winner going on to face the District 1 qualifier out of the Amarillo area at 6 p.m. on Friday. The loser faces the loser of the Midland-Lubbock opening round game in an elimination contest at 8 p.m. on Friday.

The 11-12 year-olds followed the 9-10 year old Little League All-Stars into sectional play. They qualified the previous weekend, and will travel to North Concho on Friday to take on the winner of Thursday’s Midland-Amarillo game in their opening contest, beginning at 5 p.m.

Pecos actually had a 10-0 lead in Sunday morning’s game before San Angelo came back to cut the lead t 10-8. But the Little Leaguers then scored six more times and appeared to have the game in hand, until Northern’s big sixth inning, capped by a single by James Perez that thanks to a three-base error, turned into a three-run, game winning play.

San Angelo then opened the deciding game by scoring twice in the top of the first inning, but manager Orlando Fuentes said, “Our kids never got discouraged. When we got down, we came back up.”

Matthew Rodriguez, who picked up the win in Saturday’s game with an inning of relief, took the loss in relief in Sunday’s opener, while Gabriel Jacobo, who shut down Pecos in the bottom of the sixth, got the victory. Jacobo then went out to start the deciding game, but didn’t fare nearly as well, giving up the 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. J.R. Lara doubled home Linvel Mosby and K.J. Herrera, and then scored on a stolen base and throwing error. In the second, Alex Dominguez reached on an infield hit and scored on Arthur Navarette’s double, he scored on a single by Orona, and after Orona was thrown out trying for third on Justin Ybarra’s infield hit Mosby tripled him home. He would score on a passed ball after that for a 7-2 lead.

Pecos then scored four times with two outs in the third to chase Jacobo from the mound and go up 11-2. Navarrete singled off the pitcher’s glove, Orona reached on an error and three runs scored on RBI singles by Ybarra and Mosby. Two wild pitches by new pitcher Jarrod Shroyer gave Pecos a nine-run lead.

But Shroyer held Pecos to two runs over the next two innings, and San Angelo came back with two runs in the fourth and then sixth in the fifth. Like Pecos’ third inning rally, all the runs came with two outs, capped by a two-strike grand slam home run by Dominic Manuel.

That still left Pecos up by a run, and then scored once more in the fifth for a 12-10 lead. But doubles by Dillon Drost and Schroyer off new pitcher Herrera in the top of the sixth made it 12-11, and with two outs Michael Bright scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Herrera would get the final out and strand Schroyer on third, and in the bottom of the sixth Rodriguez reached on an error to lead things off, and Dominguez - now as a pinch-runner, would get to third on a couple of wild pitches, the second on a walk to Navarrete that almost scored the winning run.

“Arthur went to first base and we tried to get him in a run down,” Fuentes said. “Alex came down the line, but then he stopped and went back to third,” as Navarrete ended up getting called out in a rundown.

“Alex wanted to go again and I told him ‘no, stay there’ and then Robert got the base shot,” Fuentes said. Orona’s ball fell just in-between the centerfielder and left fielder for a hit, as Dominguez came home with the winning run.

Orona didn’t even have to hit the ball to get the game-winning RBI on Saturday. He walked with the bases loaded against Bright, after Kevin Fuentes reached on an error to lead off the sixth, and Rodriguez singled and Navarrete walked with one away.

Rodriguez had retired San Angelo in order in the top of the sixth, after Pecos scored twice in the fifth to tie the game at 9-9. An RBI double by Mosby tied the game and got himself off the hook, after he saw Northern score seven times in the top of the fifth. Mosby had pitched out of a bases-loaded none out jam in the fourth, and before that had only allowed a first inning two run homer by Marshall Miller. Pecos came back in the bottom of the first to score four runs off Miller, taking the lead on a two-run single by Dominguez.

They made it 6-2 in the second on two walks, two hit batters and a single by Herrera, and added another run in the fourth, when Herrera scored on Fuentes’ infield out.

A single by Miller started San Angelo’s fifth inning rally, helped along by a questionable call at second base on a fielder’s choice bouncer by Bright. Singles by Schroyer, Perez, Jacobo and Dross followed and gave Northern the lead, helped along by three Pecos errors.

Five teams are in the sectional tournament at the Dixie Little League complex, located in the 3000 block of Marshall Street, just west of Buffalo Gap Road. “We’ll probably go with our ace, Linvel, “ Orlando Fuentes said of the opening game. “Abilene’s got some good hitters on their team. They’ve got a lot of power.”

He said the Dixie squad was led by Josh Rodriguez, who has seven home runs this season.

The winner of the Abilene sectional will advance to the state Little League Tournament in Waco at the end of July.

Eagle football field to start greening up this week

The field at Eagle Stadium looks a little bit rougher than usual right now, but by next week things should be greening up with the start of installation of FieldTurf on the Pecos High School football field.

The installation is part of a project budgeted at $517,000 to install synthetic grass and to resurface the Pecos High School track. White rocks were laid down on top of a liner on the field for since the end of June, and then built up before the application of gravel and a top surface on which the turf will be installed. A drainage canal also has been dug out and tubing installed around the field, which will also be covered over by the turf installation. The turf will arrive in sections, and then be installed on the field over what is expected to be a three-week period.

“The turf comes in 15-foot wide stripes and however long you need it to be,” said Brian Cox, the FieldTurf official overseeing the Pecos project. If there are no delays, the field could be in place by the end of July, just prior to the start of the Eagles’ preseason practices. Currently, the target date for completing all stadium work is the week of Aug. 16, when the Eagles are scheduled to hold their final pre-season scrimmage.

Mark Williams of West Star Construction out of Georgetown is overseeing the installation of the liner, gravel and drainage system, which will channel water to the northeast side of the stadium. “The turf guys should be in here by next week,” Williams said on Thursday. “We’ll be putting the final grade in here by Monday.”

Roy Lindsay Construction is assisting West Star with their work. “They’re supplying us with gravel and helping us do grading,” Williams said. “We usually sub (contract) out to locals, to help out the community and keep the tax revenues right here.”

He added that the trucks would be dumping about 4,200 tons of rock on the field before the turf is laid down.

Williams, who is from the Chicago area, said he’s also been working on field projects there, and well as in Wisconsin, other parts of Texas and in neighboring states. His next job is in the Houston area after the Eagle Stadium field is completed.

FieldTurf’s headquarters is in Montreal, Quebec, but Cox said he operates out of the company’s southwestern regional headquarters in Dallas. The company was actually the second choice of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board this past spring to do the installation, after the original firm selected, ProGreen of Louisiana, couldn’t secure bonding for its project in Texas.

That forced a re-bid, which was won by FieldTurf, for what turned out to be a lower price than the original agreement with ProGreen. Cox said the Eagle Stadium job is one of six high school fields in Texas the company is doing this summer.

“Right now, by the end of the summer we’ll be very close to 1,000 fields worldwide. Before the season got started we had installed about 800,” Cox said. Those include NFL fields for the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and both the New York Giants and New York Jets.

Cox said Pecos’ field is the third high school field in West Texas that FieldTurf has installed. The first was Dick Bivins Field in Amarillo, which was also the first high school field of any kind in Texas to get artificial turf, six years ago. The other is Lubbock’s Lowery Field, which Pecos played on last October when they faced Lubbock High.

Turf installations have not been without problems. FieldTurf’s main rival, SRI Sports out of Leander, ran behind schedule last summer in putting turf in the Mustang Bowl in Andrews and at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. Odessa High and Odessa Permian ended up having to start their 2003 football seasons out of town, while Andrews has run into problems with “bunching” of their turf in some areas, much the same way a carpet will develop ripples when pushed in (the similarities don’t end there - the turf will have to be brushed every couple of months by maintenance crews too remove dirt, and according to The New York Times, the turf itself is made in Dalton, Ga., which is the one of the largest carpet manufacturing cities in the nation).

More importantly for those schools, SRI - which had been installing a modified version of the original Astroturf on fields across the country - filed for bankruptcy early this year, leaving schools like Andrews and Odessa unsure of their warranty guarantees for their turf, while other schools saw turf installation and/or track renovation projects shut down in the middle of the job.

It was the second time in recent years the company’s owning Monsanto’s original Astroturf patent has filed for bankruptcy. The status of the company and ownership of the patents, remains tied up in court.

The original Astroturf was first installed in 1966, after officials running the Astrodome discovered in the facilities inaugural season that players couldn’t see the baseball through the dome’s clear glass panels. Once the glass was painted over the natural grass inside the stadium died.

But the turf, along with other competing brands such as Tartan Turf and Politer, were laid down either over a concrete surface or with only a small amount of padding. That led to some extra bumps and bruises, while the coarseness of the surfaces also resulted in players receiving “turf burns.”

Despite the rock underlay, FieldTurf and other second-generation synthetic turf field are supposed to have more give underneath, creating a more natural surface (though the more expensive installations use a crushed rubber underlay). Meanwhile, unlike Astroturf, which resembled patio carpeting, or Tartan Turf, which looked like a green steel wool soap pad, the new turf is formed into blades 1 1/2 to two inches long, which are coated with oil to make them slicker and eliminate the “turf burn” problem.

How long the oil coating lasts during Pecos’ 100-plus degree summers and windy, dusty springs remains to be seen. Under the contract, the school district has an eight-year warranty on the playing field, which would run through the 2011-2012 school year. One of the other problems that kept most school district from installing artificial turf in the past was the need for specialized footwear. Teams playing on artificial surfaces like Astroturf would also have to use a different type of shoe to avoid having their cleats catch in the turf. Because the new turf more mirrors natural grass, Cox said, “For the first time, players could wear their normal cleats. “

One of the selling points made during discussions over installing the synthetic turf was the possibility of post-season games. There are no Class 3A teams west of Pecos, but there are schools ranging from six-man through Class 5A the could use Eagle Stadium for bi-district or area round playoff match-ups, though seating.

“Most all playoff teams are looking at sites (with synthetic turf),” said Cox. “They’re looking at going to this type of field because they know no matter what the weather conditions, they’ll have good traction and will not be a mud bowl.”

“The reason for that is when you do the cost appraisal of the field for multiple events it pays off,” said Cox. “You can have playoff games, soccer, junior high and Pop Warner (pee-wee) football on the same field. You’re not able to do that on a grass field and still keep it in shape.”

As of now, the number of high school and junior high games on the Eagle Stadium field shouldn’t change much from past years, though the number of youth games on the field could increase. The big change, school board members were told when the plan was first proposed, would be for the Eagle Band, which could now practice during the week on the field, instead of on the stadium’s parking lot due to fears of wearing out the grass.

At the time the plan was proposed, the board also looked into putting synthetic grass on the PHS baseball and softball fields, but those plans were rejected due to the cost, estimated at $1.6 million. However, the football stadium’s new turf is supposed to indirectly help the Eagles’ baseball and softball fields.

Both the varsity and JV teams will now practice on the main field instead of on the west practice field, which will allow for the installation of a permanent fence on the softball field, while the freshmen will workout on the unused section of the west field, instead of on the baseball field, taking wear off that surface.

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Pecos Enterprise
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