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Friday, June 26, 1998

Youth baseball squads open play July 10

PECOS, June 26 -- Opening games will be a little later this
year for Pecos youth baseball all-star teams, with their
first contests in District 4 Tournament play not scheduled
to begin until after the Fourth of July weekend.

The district tournament had always begun after the holiday
until three years ago, when first round games were moved up
to as early as July 1. This time, the tournament's first
games will be on July 6, and run through July 18 or 19.

The first year 8-10 year old all-star team will make their
debut on July 10, with a game against North Concho (Water
Valley-Carlsbad-Grape Creek), while in the Little League's
11-12 division, Pecos will also start on July 10, after
drawing a first round. They'll play on the road, at either
Sonora or San Angelo Lake View.

The Junior League, which won last year's District 4
championship, will also await their first round opponent,
and also open on the road on July 10. Their first game is
either at Reagan County or Sonora, and if they will, they'll
stay on the road the following evening, for a game either in
Ballinger or at San Angelo North.

The Senior League All-Star team will also play their opener
on July 10 after a first round bye, but get to stay in Pecos
to face either San Angelo North or Ballinger, who meet on
July 6. A win would move the Senior Leaguers into a July 12
matchup against either Tri-County (Christoval-Miles), San
Angelo South or San Angelo West.

The District 4 bracket for 1998 got weaker, and Pecos'
travel destinations got longer, after Alpine opted to
relocate, from District 4 to District 3. That district has a
lot tougher competition than District 4 -- with teams coming
from Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, El Paso and Lamesa -- but
it also plays all of its game at one central tournament
site, cutting down on travel time and expenses.

Alpine was Pecos' second-closest District 4 rival the past
several seasons -- only a 100 mile trip, compared to the
140- to 240-mile trips to the other District 4 cities.
Crane, which joined the district last year, is Pecos'
closest rival, a 75-mile drive from home.

Under a worst-case situation, with all four Pecos teams
having to come up through the loser's bracket to the
District 4 finals, the squads could be forced to endure a
combined 6,000 miles in driving to and from games in the San
Angelo area during the two-week period.

U.S. team goes down fighting with coach

AP Sports Writer
NANTES, France, June 26 (AP) -- They stunk. And they hated
their coach.

That about sums up the American experience at the 1998
World Cup.

``I don't think we got the best out of the talent we had
here,'' Tab Ramos said after Thursday's night's 1-0 loss to
Yugoslavia completed an 0-3 flop. ``From the beginning, this
whole World Cup has been a mess. I blame the coaches for the
losses. I have no problem saying that.''

Players couldn't find the net very much, saving their best
shots for coach Steve Sampson and his assistant, Clive
Charles. Veterans on the team, puzzled and angered ever
since captain John Harkes was cut in April, teed off on the
staff before heading off on their own today.

``We all have a scrapbook, and I would have liked to at
least have a picture of myself on the field,'' said Alexi
Lalas, who didn't get into any of the three games.

``I'm confident, regardless of whether I played a minute in
this World Cup. I have the respect of the people on the
team,'' he said. ``The most important thing is having the
respect of the people you associate with yourself. I was
honest and open up front, and I know I have that respect.
Steve is going to have to settle for a scrapbook -- and
that's all.''

Today, as the squad left its base camp in Pornic, team
officials struck back -- right in the wallet.

``There will be fines imposed against those individuals who
spoke out against the federation as a way of directing a
message to younger players that this is not professional
behavior,'' Sampson said. ``These will be significant

Sampson would not elaborate on the amount, and team general
manager Tom King said two or three players would be

The Americans, who arrived with the goal of showing Europe
that U.S. soccer has come of age, instead showed they're
better finger-pointers than goal-scorers.

``I think it was immature of us to go around and point
fingers,'' said Claudio Reyna, a major disappointment. ``It
doesn't look good.''

The United States, already eliminated by a 2-1 loss to
Iran, is guaranteed of finishing no better than 30th in the
32-team field and could wind up dead last.

While the U.S. team showed flashes of improvement from four
years ago in brief stretches, all in all it was an
embarrassment for a nation that has spent millions of
dollars trying to build its program to a world-class level.

``My disappointment came from the fact that I was denied
the opportunity to show what I'm capable of,'' said star
forward Eric Wynalda, who started just one of the three
games. ``The team that played in the World Cup was very
different than the team that qualified. And things didn't
work out. That's not necessarily a criticism, that's just
stating a fact.''

Since the end of qualifying last November, Sampson remade
the starting lineup. And even though U.S. Soccer Federation
president Alan Rothenberg met with the team before the game
and warned players to watch their words, Ramos vowed to
remove himself from the program unless there's a coaching

``As long as Steve and Clive are around this team, I won't
have anything to do with it,'' he said.

Lalas and teammate Jeff Agoos also said they'd never play
another game for Sampson.

``My viewpoints and his viewpoints are at polar opposites
on how a player should be treated,'' Agoos said as he and
Lalas left France.

Sampson refused Thursday night to respond directly to the
complaints, saying: ``I'm not going to criticize my players.
I'm not going to be drawn into that.''

Yanks, McGwire, Sosa continue onslaught

ATLANTA, June 26 -- American League, National League,
whatever. No matter who they play against, the New York
Yankees are the best team in baseball, and Sammy Sosa and
Mark McGwire keep hitting home runs.

David Wells pitched a six-hitter Thursday night as the
Yankees sent a clear message that there's nothing fluky
about that gaudy 53-19 mark by taking three of four games
from the NL-leading Atlanta Braves.

``I think we've won enough games that when we do win, we
don't surprise ourselves,'' manager Joe Torre said after New
York's 6-0 victory. ``It makes you feel good to beat the
team with the best record in the National League, a team
that's been winning year in and year out. It's a feather in
your cap.''

The summer showdown was a decisive victory for New York,
which swept two games at Turner Field by a combined score of
16-6 after splitting two at Yankee Stadium.

Chad Curtis hit a two-run homer and Paul O'Neill had a
two-run triple as the Yankees broke the game open with a
five-run sixth inning off Denny Neagle (8-6).

For the second straight day, Sosa and McGwire homered and
their teams lost -- Chicago fell 6-4 at Detroit and St.
Louis lost 8-2 at Cleveland.

Sosa's homer leading off the seventh broke the major league
mark for most homers in a month. Sosa's 19th homer in June
and 32nd of the season moved him past Detroit's Rudy York,
who hit 18 homers in August 1937.

``I'm happy I'm in the book, but for me it don't mean
nothing right now because we lost the game,'' said Sosa, who
has 23 homers and 45 RBIs in his last 26 games. ``I'm still
thinking about the game. It would've been much better if
we'd have won.''

McGwire didn't set any records, but he nearly became the
first player to hit a ball out of Jacobs Field as he kept up
his assault on Roger Maris' record with his 35th home run.

McGwire's blast off Dave Burba (9-5) in the first hit a
steel support beam attached to the left-field scoreboard.
The 461-foot shot was the second-longest homer hit at the
ballpark. McGwire owns the top three

Jim Thome hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Manny Aybar
(3-4) and a solo shot in the eighth off Bobby Witt, his

Tigers 6, Cubs 4

Tony Clark's three-run homer in the seventh broke a 3-3 tie
and gave Detroit a two-game sweep at Tiger Stadium of
Chicago, which has lost five straight and 12 of 16.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 4

Will Clark and Ivan Rodriguez drove in three runs each at
Arizona and Todd Van Poppel won for the first time in nearly
two years. Juan Gonzalez added an RBI single for Texas off
Amaury Telemaco (2-2), the major league-leading 94th RBI for

Van Poppel (1-1) held the Diamondbacks to six hits and four
runs in 8 1-3 innings in his second appearance in the majors
since Sept. 27, 1996.

Angels 3, Dodgers 2

Knuckleballer Steve Sparks, 0-8 in the minors before being
called up by Anaheim less than two weeks ago, won his third
consecutive start.

Phil Nevin hit a two-run double in Anaheim's three-run
sixth against Dennis Reyes (0-4).

Padres 6, Mariners 0

Tony Gwynn drove in two runs and Mark Langston (2-1)
pitched 6 1-3 strong innings for his first victory since
April 3 for host San Diego.

Blue Jays 1, Expos 0

Woody Williams (8-3) pitched a five-hitter for his first
career shutout and Mike Stanley homered off Carlos Perez
(6-7) as visiting Toronto won its season-high fifth straight

Mets 3, Orioles 2

Carlos Baerga singled home the winning run with two outs in
the ninth inning as New York swept the two-game series at
Shea Stadium. Baerga's third hit of the game came against
Armando Benitez (2-2), who walked leadoff hitter Edgardo
Alfonzo and then walked John Olerud with two outs.

Marlins 5, Devil Rays 1

Livan Hernandez (6-4) pitched an eight-hitter for his
second consecutive complete game and Gregg Zaun homered and
drove in two runs for host Florida.

Athletics 5, Giants 2

Rickey Henderson hit a two-run single in the fourth inning
as Oakland won its second straight at 3Com Park against its
cross-bay rivals.

Red Sox 7, Phillies 5

Bret Saberhagen limited Philadelphia to five hits and no
earned runs in six innings as Boston snapped a three-game
losing streak by winning at Philadelphia. John Valentin and
Damon Buford hit solo homers off Matt Beech (3-5).

Reds 7, White Sox 5

Brett Tomko (2-2) ended a personal five-game losing streak
and Pokey Reese hit a three-run homer as Cincinnati snapped
an 11-game skid by winning at Chicago.

Brewers 9, Twins 2

Cal Eldred (3-5) allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings and
visiting Milwaukee scored three runs, with the aide of three
errors, in the top of the first against Minnesota's Brad
Radke (8-6).

Royals 6, Pirates 1

At Kansas City, Jeff Conine and Larry Sutton each homered
off Pittsburgh starter Jon Lieber (5-9), and Tim Belcher
(6-7) allowed four hits in eight innings for the Royals.

Rockies 6, Astros 5

Kurt Abbott doubled off the wall in left-center, scoring
Vinny Castilla with the winning run as Colorado swept the
two-game series at Coors Field.

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