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May 10, 2001

Eagles looking to halt Canyon's comebacks

Staff Writer

PECOS, May 10, 2001 - Comebacks have been the norm for the Pecos Eagles in 2001 at least until their last three games.

This weekend, they'll face a team that has been coming up with even more comebacks than the Eagles lately, when Pecos begins the Class 4A baseball playoffs with an area round match-up against the Canyon Eagles.

Game 1 of the best-of-three series will be at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Howard College in Big Spring, with Game 2 there at 10 a.m. Saturday and Game 3, if needed, to follow at about 1 p.m.

Pecos spent the first month of District 2-4A play either falling behind or losing leads, but managed to win seven of their first eight 2-4A contests. But in their last thee games, the Eagles have taken early leads and kept them all the way, beating El Paso Mountain View, 15-0, and San Elizario 12-1 to win the district title and earn a first round playoff bye, then downing Seminole a week ago by a 5-3 score in a playoff practice game. It improved their record to 19-6 on the season.

Canyon, meanwhile, came from a game behind Hereford midway through the District 3-4A schedule to beat out the Whitefaces for second place in the standings, then came back after losing the first game of their bi-district series against Big Spring last week to defeat the Steers, 11-10 and 8-7, rallying from five- and seven-run deficits in those games to advance to the area round and improve to 18-11 overall.

"The kids played real hard," said coach Gary Hix. "I was proud of the way they handled themselves in situations like that.

"We had been in a tight district race all the way. They beat us the first time in Hereford, and I think it was an advantage for us to be playing them the second time with second an third place on the line," he added.

Hix said junior lefthander Ben Weston would probably get the start in Friday's opener, while Eagles' coach Bubba Williams said sophomore Barney Rodriguez would start on the mound for Pecos.

Hix said Weston is only 3-5 on the season, but added, "We've thrown him against their toughest people. Usually he's gone up against the other team's No. 1 pitcher and has done a good job, but has just come up a little short."

"He's a good control pitcher," Williams said. "He throws a lot of breaking pitches, so we've just got to put the ball in play and be patient and wait for our pitches."

Rodriguez got credit for the Eagles' last two wins, allowing one run in six innings against San Elizario and two runs (one earned) in four innings against Seminole to raise his record to 8-0 on the season.

Seniors Pifi Montoya and Angel Villalobos figure to be the Eagles' other two pitchers in the series, while Hix said sophomores Britty Campbell and Candy Medellin are his other likely starters in the series.

Offensively, Williams said Canyon doesn't have a lot of power, but "they've got a lot of line drive hitters and they're quick. They like to run a lot."

"We don't pack much punch. We just try to play station-to-station, move people over and score a lot of runs," said Hix, who added most of his lineup has been hitting the ball well this season. "As a team we're hitting .329, and everybody's right around that area," he said. "It seems like it's a different kid every time when runners are in scoring position who gets the big hit."

Pecos will get back shortstop Capi Magana for the first time in three weeks. Richard Rodriguez, who had been playing short, will move back to second base now that Magana is eligible again, while Williams said Alex Garcia will move back out to center field and Rigo Ramirez will go back to his normal left field position.

The winner of the Pecos-Canyon series will take on the winner of the Frenship-El Paso Burges series, which will be played this weekend in Hobbs, N.M.

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