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Monday, May 14, 2001

Walks, errors help Canyon end Pecos' baseball season

Staff Writer

Walks, errors and hits _ two many of the first two and not enough of  the third when it counted, did in the Pecos Eagles on Saturday, in the area  round of the Class 4A playoffs.

The Eagles were beaten in three games by the Canyon Eagles, dropping the first game on Friday by a 9-3 score, then coming back to win the second game, 9-8, before being shut out by Canyon's Ryan Tatum in the deciding game, 5-0.

"We gave up a lot of walks and made a lot of errors. They made the plays when we hit it and they didn't," said Eagles' coach Bubba Williams. Pecos was only out-hit in the series, 17-15, but Eagle pitchers allowed 16 walks to just nine for Canyon and committed 14 errors to just six for the District 3-4A runners-up.

Canyon never managed more seven hits in any of the three contests, but Tatum and first game pitcher Ben Weston were able use their off-speed pitches to stay ahead of Pecos' hitters for most of their games, while Eagles' pitchers Barney Rodriguez, Pifi Montoya, Angel Villalobos and Capi Magana all struggled with their control at times.

Montoya, Villalobos and Magana all pitched in Game 2, when Canyon's pitchers also ran into control problems. That helped Pecos rally twice from three-run deficits before winning the game by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh, though they still had to foil a double-steal attempt in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory.

Rodriguez suffered his first loss in nine decisions in the opening game on Friday, as Weston no-hit Pecos over the final 5 1/3 innings of the game. Singles by Alex Garcia and Mason Abila in the first inning, combined with a bad throw to third by shortstop Wade Conner gave the Eagles an early 1-0 lead, but Weston's two-out double down the line in right in the fourth inning scored two runs and put Canyon ahead to stay.

A one out walk and single set up the runs, while in the sixth, errors by Angel Villalobos at first base and by Abila on a pickoff throw to third got Canyon another run. Villalobos booted a Michael Crabtree grounder and scored when Abila's throw bounced off the helmet of batter Matt Allen.

That was a set-up for Canyon's six-run sixth inning, all coming with two outs and all on just one hit. J.P. Wieck got that with one away, but then Rodriguez walked Ryan Mercer, and with two away walked Crabtree and then hit Jose Medallin with an 0-2 pitch to force home a run.

Four straight errors on grounders by Capi Magana and Richard Rodriguez followed, giving Canyon an eight-run lead. They then made a pair of errors in the bottom of the seventh, on grounders to Mercer and Conner, that got the Eagles two runs, but they came on sacrifice flies by Rigo Ramirez and Magana, and Weston then got Matthew Levario to fly out, ending the game.

Mercer's seventh inning error in Game 2 on Saturday was far more costly. He threw away Villalobos' sacrifice bunt after a lead off single by Barney Rodriguez off reliever T.J. Kidd. He then walked David Elkins to load the bases, and gave up an RBI single by Ramirez to break a 7-7 tie. Levario then scored what turned out to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off Evan Parker, who then retired the side.

Canyon had taken a 3-0 lead in the first with another one-hit inning, thanks to three walks by Montoya, two more Pecos errors and a passed ball that scored a run. But starter Candy Medallin ran into the same control problems the Eagles' pitchers had, and Pecos tied the game in the second inning thanks to three walks, a two-run single by Garcia, and a passed ball by Jose Medallin.

Pecos took a 4-3 lead in the third on a Barney Rodriguez single and a double by Elkins, which brought Kidd on to pitch, but Montoya left the mound with a blister on his after walking Wieck and Mercer. Villalobos replaced him and gave up an RBI single to Parker on his first pitch, and Crabtree and Jose Medallin put Canyon up 5-4 with a fielder's choice ground out and sacrifice fly. Then in the fourth a lead off homer by Allen, another Pecos error and a bloop single by Parker gave Canyon a 7-4 lead.

Again, the Eagles rallied. A walk to Montoya, an error by Mercer at third after a diving stop on a Barney Rodriguez grounder and a passed ball made it 7-5, Villalobos then singled home another run and after a bad pickoff throw sent courtesy runner Daniel Terrazas to third, he scored on a double steal, following a walk to Elkins.

Villalobos, dodged bullets due to walks in the fifth and sixth innings, but then walked the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, before being replaced by Magana. Wieck singled off his glove to score a run and put Conner on third, but the junior then struck out Mercer, and Conner was tagged out at home by Abila after taking the throw back from Garcia at second base. Parker then bounced to Villalobos, now a third base, with Montoya, now at first, making the stretch to snare the low throw for the final out.

But while the Eagles tied the series, Williams said. "The second game took a lot out of us. We just didn't seem to have anything left."

Magana continued on the mound to open Game 3, but walked Allen on four pitches, then gave up singles to Conner and Weick before Allen scored on a Mercer fielder's choice ground out. Conner was then tagged out again by Abila, this time near third base, when he tried to score on Parker's fly out to Elkins in right, and he would be tagged out at home one more time to end the second inning, trying to score on a passed ball.

But by then Canyon had added three more runs. Another lead-off walk started things off, and after Magana got the next two outs Westin doubled past a diving Ramirez in left-center field. Magana then hit Allen and walked Conner before Wieck singled to center to score Westin and Allen.

Levario came on with two outs in the third after Magana hit Crabtree and gave up the final on his own error, when he lost track of the outs on a Jose Medallin bouncer and threw late to first base, and past Montoya. After that, the sophomore settled down and shut Canyon out over the final four innings, but Tatum kept Pecos off-balance the entire game.

The Eagles got their lead batter on base only once in Game 3, and even then things went Canyon's way, as Villalobos' hard shot down the third base line hit the umpire and bounced back to Mercer, turning a potential double into a single. It was also the only inning Pecos got a runner past second base, thanks to a two-out single by Levario, but Tatum then popped up Richard Rodriguez on the next pitch to retire the side.

"We did a good job coming back in the second game, but we just put so much momentum into winning that second game it drained us and we just came out flat in that third game," Williams said.

Canyon improved to 20-11 on the season and will face Frenship in the Region I-4A quarterfinals, while the Eagles close out their 2001 season with a 20-8 record after winning the District 2-4A title, and will graduate only Villalobos, Garcia, Montoya and Terrazas off this year's squad.

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Pecos Enterprise
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