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Monday, July 13, 1998

Seniors, Juniors reach semifinals

Staff Writer
PECOS, July 13 -- The first inning of Sunday's Pecos Senior League game was so nice, they played it twice.

Well, half of it, anyway. And the other half was one San Angelo Western probably would have preferred not to play at all.

After using a double play to retire the side in order in the top of the first, Pecos had to do it all over again, after Western protested that an uncertified umpire was being used.

So after manager Frank Rodriguez got Gary Garcia -- who had called Saturday's `B' division Little League game -- out of the right-center field stands to work behind home plate, the top of the first was replayed.

This time, San Angelo did manage to push across a run, thanks to the first two of Pecos' nine errors on the evening. But after getting one out to start the bottom of the first, San Angelo pitcher Scott Ross saw the next six batters reach base and score, the last four on Capi Magana's grand slam home run, as Pecos took a 6-1 lead and then held off a late Western rally for an 11-8 win.

Pecos' victory puts them into a 6 p.m. game Tuesday at Maxey Park against San Angelo Lake View, with the winner advancing to Saturday's tournament finals. The win also followed the victories Friday and Saturday by Pecos' Junior League All-Stars, who reached the semifinals with a 12-11 win at San Angelo Southern on Friday and a 15-0 victory at Ballinger on Saturday.

"The guys were pretty mad," about having to play the first inning twice, Stephen Rodriguez said. "They were upset and they jumped on it."

Before Magana's homer, Mason Abila had blooped a single to right and Alex Garcia and Gilbert Fierro both had infield hits to score runs. Those came after Ross hit Angel Villalobos with a 3-2 pitch, then walked Richard Rodriguez on four straight pitches.

Rodriguez went the distance for the win in Sunday's game, and actually wound up pitching eight innings, thanks to the do-over first. He tired a little in the fifth inning, walking three batters, but helped himself by getting Michael McClellan off first base.

San Angelo got most of their runs in the fourth and sixth innings, and all but one was unearned thanks to Pecos' problems fielding ground balls.

"Some of those balls, they were hitting them in the hole, and there wasn't much we could do about it," said Stephen Rodriguez, while Frank Rodriguez added, "You've got to remember, those are just 14- and 15-year-olds out there, they're going to make mistakes."

San Angelo got to within 7-4 in the fourth, but with two outs in the bottom of the inning Ross walked Ernie Baca and Benny Juarez followed with his first tournament homer, a two-run shot almost to the same spot as Magana's in left-center field. Villalobos then reached when Parker Walz dropped a throw to first base, and after Rodriguez and both runners advanced on a wild pitch Abila singled to give Pecos an 11-4 lead.

San Angelo go another run in the fifth, then cut it to 11-8 in the sixth. They nearly got it to within one, but McClellan's deep one out fly was hauled in by Magana in right, and then Ross was called out on an appeal for leaving second base before the catch to go to third. San Angelo argued the call, but unlike in the first inning, this out stood up.

"The umpire was a little more legitimate complaint. I would have protested, too," Stephen Rodriguez said. "But they agreed to the umpires and they were both on the (certification) list, so they have nothing to complain about there."

While the Senior League followed up their easy 11-1 win last Thursday with a tougher victory this time around, the Junior League went the opposite way. They saw an 11-4 lead after five innings disappear in the sixth on Friday, when San Angelo Southern got to Matthew Levario for a series of base hits.

Combined with a disputed interference call and a mental mistake on a two-out grounder, Southern tied the game at 11-all. Barney Rodriguez came on and retired San Angelo in the seventh and eighth, leaving runners on second and third in the eighth, before Pecos won it on Ruvel Carrasco's two-out single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th.

On Saturday, the Junior Leaguers avenged the loss they suffered last year as Little Leaguers in the tournament finals against Ballinger. Robbie Onitiveros struck out seven in tossing the shutout, while his teammates got to Ballinger pitcher Tony Aguilera they way they couldn't a year ago, ending the game in five innings under the 10-run rule.

Little League squads down LV, Crane

PECOS, July 13 -- A rain delay was about the only thing that slowed down the Pecos Little League All-Stars over the weekend, as they made quick work of their first two District 4 Tournament opponents.

The Little Leaguers won a four inning 12-1 decision at San Angelo Lake View on Friday, then took a rain-interrupted 11-0 win at Crane on Sunday, to advance to the tournament semifinals at San Angelo Northern on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pecos' `B' Little League All-Stars struggled a little bit more with Lake View in their home game on Saturday, before breaking things open in the sixth inning for their second tournament win, by an 11-5 final score.

The `B' squad will be in San Angelo tonight, for their tournament semifinal game at San Angelo Western. The winner advances to Friday's finals, while the loser will play on Wednesday night in the double-elimination tournament.

The `A' Little League team needed only 1:10 to win their game at Lake View, and just about as little time to beat Crane on Sunday, once the rain delay was taken out.

"Robbie (Saldana) pitched for us and did a great job. He shut them down," coach Lee Serrano said. Pecos managed to grab a 9-0 lead before the rains came, then added two more after the day to again end their game early under the 10-run rule.

"The kids are finally getting their bats going," Serrano said. "After the rain delay Joseph Jaquez drew a walk and then Rigo (Ramirez) hit his second home run of the tournament. It was a pretty good shot."

It was Ramirez' grand slam on Friday off San Angelo Lake View pitcher Weston Day that broke things open for Pecos. Day got through the Little Leaguers' batting order the first time around relatively easy, with the only run coming off a walk to Ramirez, a passed ball by catcher Cam Sykes and Joshua Anchondo's single to right-center field.

That gave Pecos a 1-0 lead in the second inning before Ramirez' homer, a two-out two strike fly to left that scored Elario Bustamantes, Victor Reyes and Jacob Marquez.

Bustamantes would end up pitching a one-hitter on the day, and contributed his own two-run homer in the fourth, which started off a six-run inning for Pecos. San Angelo's lone run came off their only hit, a single to center by Matt Phillips and a throw wide of third base by Ramirez, which allowed Jeffrey Trimble to score.

The 9-10 year-olds only had to deal with one game over the weekend, but that took about as long to play as both of the 11-12 year-old's games did. They also had to deal with 113 degree temperatures at game time on Saturday, but in the end, it was Lake View pitcher Sky Schmickle who wore down, as the `B' All-Stars scored six times in the sixth inning to break a 5-5 tie.

The lead changed hands three times in the early innings. Pecos took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off Eddie Vela's single after Edward Valencia reached on an error by Schmickle, who started the game at shortstop. But Lake View answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, off a single by Schmickle, errors by Vela and Tomas Paz at short and second, and RBI hits by Levi Clark and Preston McKnight.

Pecos then took a 4-3 lead in their next at bat on Valencia's bases loaded single and error by John Bell in right field. Valencia then came on to pitch the fourth and saw Lake View go back up, 5-4, off a pair of infield hits by Jonathan Brannon and Alan Buckland, and two errors by Jonathan Garcia at third base.

Pecos tied the game in the fifth, as Valencia was able to score on Vela's pop-up to second base. They then won it in the sixth off Garcia's two-run single off the first base bag that scored Kenny Rayos and Adrian Hernandez, who also reached on singles. Rocky Losoya singled in Garcia and after an error on a Valencia grounder, Vela scored them with a bloop double to left. He would then steal third and score the final run off a passed ball.

Vela ended up pitching the final two innings to get his second win of the tournament. Manager Jesse Rayos said he took Kenny Rayos out in the third, "just to keep him rested. I don't know if I can go six innings with these little kids, because they get tired faster."

San Angelo Western reached today's game with an 11-4 victory over Ballinger. The loser tonight will face the winner of tonight's elimination game between Crane and San Angelo Northern.

ZZ's tops as France wins Cup

AP Sports Writer
SAINT DENIS, France, July 13 -- It was samba soccer at its very best, played with style and substance. Played to a rhythmic beat that began early in the day and went on unrestrained for hours.

You expect such things in the World Cup final. You simply don't expect them from France.

The French took every page four-time champion Brazil has written on the world's most popular sport and rearranged them with Gallic flair. They used Brazil's recipe of attacking, entertaining soccer for a 3-0 rout Sunday night for their first world title, setting off the biggest celebrations the nation has seen since World War II ended.

``This was the greatest evening of my life,'' said goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

``It's all that we expected. It's incredible. There are no words,'' added playmaker Zinedine Zidane.

The stars of the night were Zidane, the Marseille magician, and Barthez, the bald-headed goalkeeper who looks like he could stare shots away from the net.

Unfortunately, things got a little carried away in Paris when an apparently panicked driver zigzagged down the Champs-Elysees, where a million people gathered to party. The female driver plowed into a group of fans, injuring 80 people, 11 seriously.

On the field after the conquest of mighty Brazil, which was seeking an unprecedented fifth world title, but instead put on a dismal performance, Barthez kneeled in prayer in front of his net, tears flowing down his cheeks. Zidane kissed every teammate he could get near, while others lay on the field, kicking their legs in the air in delirious joy.

Then all of the winners gathered arm in arm and jumped up and down, hands in the air, inviting their countrymen to join along. They had carried the weight of a nation's expectations for five weeks, and now they wanted to haul their countrymen right up into the stands to collect the Jules Rimet Trophy.

``When I took the field,'' Barthez said, ``I said to myself, `Tonight, you'll be the world champion.' I've known we could be the world champs for some time.''

But they were underdogs Sunday, even at home. After all, this was Brazil, which long ago combined the flow of the samba with the intricacies of top-level soccer.

Except this was a Brazilian team unlike any other. It was flat, a bit dispirited by a pregame injury to two-time world player of the year Ronaldo. Although he started, he never was a factor.

``We didn't manage to respond,'' captain Dunga said. ``France was the better team.''

It didn't seem that way for much of the tournament. Although France won all seven games, it needed almost all of overtime to beat Paraguay in the second round. And it went to a shootout against Italy in the quarterfinals after a 0-0 tie. Its win over Croatia in the semifinals left doubts, too.

Zidane erased them early.

The son of Algerian immigrants, Zidane turned the nation's hopes into magnificent reality with one of the best performances in World Cup finals history. He scored twice on headers -- his first goals of a tournament he began by getting suspended for two games. By the time Emmanuel Petit made it 3-0 in the final seconds, the French festival had begun.

``I badly wanted to score at least one goal in this World Cup and I only had the final left to do it,'' Zidane said. ``It's the most important match of my life.''

Gailey not under pressure, Jones says

IRVING, Texas, July 13 (AP) -- Dallas Cowboys coach Chan Gailey won't have to worry about his future if the team doesn't rebound immediately from last season's 6-10 disaster, Jerry Jones says.

``This is not a make-or-break year for Chan -- absolutely,'' the Cowboys' owner told«MDUL» The Dallas Morning News. ``Let's be very clear about this.

``We all believe we can compete with the talent we've got, but I'm realistic about the challenges facing this team. In no way am I saying Chan must win X number of games this season or else lose (his job).''

Gailey, 46, is making his NFL head coaching debut this season with the Cowboys, who open training camp Wednesday in Wichita Falls.

Gailey, whose five-year contract is worth a reported $600,000 a year, is among the lowest-paid head coaches in the league.

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