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Wednesday, May 20, 1998

Eagles facing long trips, later starts

PECOS, May 20 -- The Pecos Eagles volleyball team is keeping pretty much the same pre-district schedule they've had for the past couple of years, but will see a radical change come to their district schedule starting in September, when play in the new District 2-4A begins.

The Eagles will be seeking their third straight trip to the playoffs and their first district title since 1992 when the 2-4A portion of their 1998 high school volleyball season begins. It's a scheduled that will have longer overall trips and late Saturday afternoon starts for all their varsity contests, with the move from District 4-4A to 2-4A, where they'll face five schools from the El Paso area.

District play will begin for the girls on Sept. 22 at home against the Fabens Wildcats, who figure to be one of the toughest teams in the Eagles' new district. The Eagles' first road trip will come on Sept. 26, when they go to El Paso Mountain View, and 2-4A play will continue through Oct. 24, when the regular season ends with a match in San Elizario.

Because of the 175- to 220-mile distances between Pecos and their other 2-4A rivals, only one freshman game will be played each night instead of two, as in the past, and the starting times of their home matches -- all on Tuesday -- have been moved back an hour, to 6 p.m.

For the road matches, play will begin with the freshman match at 2 p.m. Pecos (CDT) time, followed by the JV match at 3:15 and the varsity contest at 4:30 p.m. Pecos' freshman purple team will play the five road matches, while the Eagles' ninth grade gold team will play the five district matches at home.

The Eagles' regular season will open where it normally does, at home against Alpine and Odessa High, on Aug. 18. The remainder of Pecos' pre-district schedule is almost the exact same as in 1997, with their first tournament on Aug. 21-22 in Odessa followed by the Pecos Cantaloupe Classic the following weekend.

The only changes are the return of Monahans to the Eagles' schedule after a two year absence, and the substitution of Odessa Permian for a dual meet against OHS and Water Valley. Pecos will go to Permian on Sept. 8, then host the Loboes on Sept. 15 in their final pre-district match.

Sweetwater fullback dies in drowning

SNYDER, May 20 -- Sweetwater Mustangs' running back Moses Brown drowned over the weekend in a swimming accident in Snyder, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported today.

Brown, Sweetwater's starting fullback as a junior and a regional qualifier in the 100 meter dash in track earlier this month, reportedly drowned while attempting to swim across Towle Park Pond shortly before midnight Saturday. Scurry County Sheriff Darren Jackson said Brown was attempting to cross the pond with a 16-year-old friend when he said he couldn't make it and tried to turn back.

The Snyder Daily News said an EMS team was called to the scene at 11:41 p.m. and called for divers to assist in the search, but Brown's body was not recovered until 7:20 a.m. Sunday. He was pronounced dead by Scurry County Judge Ricky Fritz, who ruled the death an accident.

Brown ran for 794 yards and four touchdowns on 122 carries as a junior during the regular season last year, as Sweetwater won the District 4-4A title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A playoffs, before losing to Denison. He also caught five passes for 42 yards and was a second team all-district selection.

Brown's death is the second tragedy in four years involving a Sweetwater High School running back. In 1994, Tyrone Amos, the older brother of the Mustangs' other starting running back, Willie Amos, was arrested and charged with shooting his girlfriend late in his junior year at the school.

O's go down fighting in 9-5 loss to Yanks

AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK, May 20 -- The moment Armando Benitez threw down his glove and taunted Darryl Strawberry, there was bound to be big, big trouble.

What began as just another bench-clearing skirmish quickly escalated into a wild, bench-filling brawl Tuesday night between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.

Punctuated by major punches, nearly every player participated in 10 minutes of fury that eventually saw bodies spilling into the Orioles' third-base dugout after Strawberry landed a flying hook to Benitez's head.

There were five ejections and -- amazingly -- no serious injuries in one of the most vicious fights in recent baseball history.

``It was the worst brawl I've seen in 25 years,'' Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said after New York beat Baltimore 9-5.

There are bound to be more severe penalties once AL president Gene Budig reviews the tape and reports. But many players are certain to escape discipline -- there were simply too many separate fights for anyone, or any camera, to capture them all.

``I don't think there was a guy on the field who didn't throw a punch,'' Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks said.

In the first game at Yankee Stadium since David Wells pitched a perfect game Sunday against Minnesota, the fight overshadowed everything else, even the Yankees' six-run rally in the eighth inning.

Suffice to say: Even in the ballpark where Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano once fought, rarely has there been such a slugest.

``This is what you'd call an imperfect game,'' Steinbrenner said.

It was in the eighth inning that trouble started.

Benitez, Baltimore's hard-throwing and often volatile reliever, entered with two outs, two runners on base and a 5-4 lead. Bernie Williams met him with an upper-deck home run to right field that put New York ahead and, ultimately, sent the Orioles to their sixth straight loss.

Benitez's next pitch was a fastball that hit Tino Martinez squarely between the shoulder blades. The Yankees first baseman held his temper, despite the fact Benitez had done the same thing to him under similar circumstances in 1995 when Martinez played for Seattle.

Plate umpire Drew Coble immediately ejected Benitez, while Strawberry and Chad Curtis led the Yankees' charge from the first-base dugout.

Benitez dropped his glove, motioning for Strawberry to fight, and then both teams went crazy.

After a bit of pushing and shoving, Yankees reliever Graeme Lloyd rushed from the bullpen and started swinging at Benitez.

``I feel as though I'm pretty mild-mannered, and that situation out there wasn't that at all,'' Lloyd said.

With nearly every player taking part, and the 31,311 fans roaring them on, the pile moved toward Baltimore's third-base dugout. Wells tried to get involved and was held back by Baltimore's Jimmy Key.

All of a sudden, Strawberry came charging at Benitez and, after landing a punch to the face, fell from the edge of the dugout a few steps onto the bench.

Baltimore's Cal Ripken and coach Eddie Murray tried to restrain him from doing further damage, but pitcher Alan Mills tangled with Strawberry.

``When it stemmed into the dugout and guys were rolling down the steps, it got ugly,'' Orioles catcher Lenny Webster said. ``That's when you can get a broken arm or a broken leg.''

Benitez and Mills were ejected for the Orioles, while Lloyd, Strawberry and pitcher Jeff Nelson were tossed for the Yankees.

The only injury was the bruise on Martinez's back. Martinez was not available for comment, and the umpires were gone shortly after the game.

``I'm OK,'' is all Strawberry said.

Benitez claimed he was innocent.

``I don't throw at people,'' Benitez said. ``All I have to say is that I'm sorry for what happened.''

Neither manager liked what he saw.

``It was a rotten thing to do. It was so blatant,'' New York's Joe Torre said. ``He caused a riot. Everytime you stopped a leak, another one would break out.''

Baltimore's Ray Miller added: ``We don't condone our pitchers hitting people after a home run.''

Even after the last out, the trouble was not finished, for sure. The Orioles milled around in the dugout for several minutes after the game.

And tensions are certain to be running high when the clubs play again tonight in the middle game of a series that goes through Thursday,

``I'm sure it won't go away,'' Torre said. ``It's awfully tough to forget about it in 24 hours and pretend all is well.''

Steinbrenner suggested Benitez should be suspended for a month, then broke into a smile when he offered another option.

``Maybe Budig should have (Orioles owner) Peter Angelos and I go three rounds to settle it,'' Steinbrenner said.

``I just hope we'll be kicking the hell out of them,'' Steinbrenner said. ``Maybe they can't win any games so they have to win fights.''

Once play resumed, Martinez returned to first base and Bobby Munoz replaced Benitez. Tim Raines struck the final blow, hitting a home run on Munoz's first pitch.

Jordan's in MVP form as Bulls dump Pacers

CHICAGO, May 20 (AP) -- He scorched Reggie Miller, he brutalized the Indiana Pacers, he even one-upped the crowd.

Michael Jordan did it all Tuesday night, making huge play after huge play down the stretch as the Chicago Bulls took a 2-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers with a 104-98 victory.

The crowd gave Jordan a 40-second standing ovation after commissioner David Stern presented him with his fifth MVP trophy, and Jordan went one better by scoring 41 points -- his 35th career postseason game with at least 40.

``It was a short ceremony, which was good,'' Jordan said. ``It didn't take away from what we were really there for, which was to try to win Game 2.''

In the end, Jordan practically won it by himself.

After Indiana scored four points in less than 10 seconds to pull to 98-95, Jordan drove to his right, slipped and fell, got back up -- maintaining his dribble all the while -- and then sliced through three defenders for a runner that bounced in.

Rik Smits missed a shot for Indiana, and Jordan tipped the rebound to Luc Longley, then got the ball back and was isolated one-on-one against Miller.

He drove to his right, stopped at the baseline, turned, squared his body and hit a 14-foot fallaway.

Game over.

``I've always said that getting that type of trophy is added pressure -- you have to go out and live up to it at some particular time,'' Jordan said. ``Tonight was no different. I felt pressure to go out and prove that you guys didn't make any mistakes in your voting.''

It was a performance so good it was almost comical. You name it, he did it.

Fallaway jumpers. Drives through traffic. Offensive rebounds. Defensive rebounds. Timely assists. Everything.

The 41-point game was Jordan's highest total of this postseason and his biggest outburst since scoring 55 against Washington in the first round of last year's playoffs.

He shot 13-for-22 from the field and 15-for-18 from the line with five assists, four of Chicago's 15 steals and four rebounds.

But more than any stat line could show, Jordan took the life out of the Pacers every time they tried to make a move.

``Knowing Michael, he probably thought getting the MVP award would fire us up,'' said Scottie Pippen. ``He wanted to come out and prove he is the MVP, which he is. There's no question about it.''

The Bulls employed a lot of the same strategies that worked so well in Game 1, from using Pippen to defend Mark Jackson to using Ron Harper to frustrate Miller.

Indiana had another bad night protecting the ball, turning it over 20 times, and again got a subpar effort from Miller, who scored 19 points but shot just 4-for-13 from the field.

The Bulls, meanwhile, survived a weak effort from Dennis Rodman, who had only two points and six rebounds in 24 minutes as he was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game.

Pippen had 21 points, six rebounds, five steals, five assists and three blocked shots, and Toni Kukoc scored 16 points.

``I'm very tired, but when it's all over and you've got a victory, it's a little bit more of a relief,'' Pippen said. ``They're making me expend a lot of energy and I'm putting forth a lot of effort to make their offense be disrupted.''

Chicago committed only six turnovers and managed to hold onto the lead throughout the fourth quarter after going ahead in the third.

Jordan's string of big plays began shortly after he re-entered the game early in the fourth period.

A 3-pointer by Steve Kerr made it 87-78 with 9:29 left, and the Pacers botched three of their next four possessions.

Antonio Davis and Chris Mullin lost the ball when confronted by double-teams, and Jordan stole a weak crosscourt pass by Jackson and went in for an uncontested dunk that made it 89-80.

Indiana came back with five straight points and had a chance to get closer, but Pippen's defense wouldn't allow it. Guarding Jackson as closely as he did throughout Game 1, Pippen forced a steal and raced to the other end to catch a pass from Jordan for a wide-open 3-pointer.

Jordan added an assist on Chicago's next possession for another seven-point lead, and Pacers trailed by at least five the rest of the way -- except for the brief stretch preceding Jordan's final fadeaway.

``He does what he does,'' Indiana's Derrick McKey said, shaking his head. ``I can't speak for the way Wilt and those guys played back in the day, but I've seen this guy first-hand -- seen him too much.''

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