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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Thursday, May 13, 1999

Eagles set for Plainiview matchup

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 13 -- When the Pecos Eagles last saw post-season play, Zebbie Lethridge was chasing down Pecos baserunner Tony Levario to snuff out a late Eagle threat and help the Lubbock Estacado Matadors to a Class 4A bi-district playoff victory.

Even with the loss, the Eagles had about half their starters coming back the following year, and with all kinds of success at the Little League and Senior League levels, appeared ready to extend their streak of seven playoff appearances in the previous eight seasons.

The lesson for Pecos players and fans from that was: Enjoy the success while you can, because you never know when the next post-season trip will arrive.

Since that day in May, 1991, Lethridge has gone on to play another year at Estacado, then spent four years as Texas Tech's quarterback before failing to catch on last summer with the Dallas Cowboys. As for the Eagles, they've been going home at the end of regular season play every year until now, when Pecos returns to the playoffs with an area round game in Big Spring on Friday against the Plainview Bulldogs.

Pecos, which earned a bye for winning the District 2-4A title, will face Plainview, the third place team out of District 4-4A, at 5 p.m. Friday at Howard College's Jack Butler Field. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, with a deciding game, if needed, at 3:30 p.m.

"Right now we're hitting the ball good, we're getting good pitching and good defense," said Eagles' coach Bubba Williams. "We're on a roll, and when you're playing like that, it's tough to be beat."

Aside from enjoying the playoffs while you're there, the other lesson of the past eight seasons may be: Forget the Little League and Senior League records! Most of the current group of Eagles had less success in those summer tournaments than any other Pecos teams in recent years, but enter the Class 4A playoffs riding a 13-game winning streak, and outscored Alpine the No. 7 ranked team in Class 3A by a 27-7 margin in their last two games.

Of course, one of the reasons the current group of Eagles didn't win three years ago at the Senior League level was they were shut out 1-0 in the District 4 title game by Oscar Rodriguez then playing for Alpine and now the Eagles' No. 2 starter. Rodriguez picked up the win in relief on Monday against his former teammates to improve to 7-1 on the season, and figures to start Game 2 on Saturday against Plainview.

Josh Casillas, who pitched the final two innings of both games against the Bucks, will start Friday's game, and will be looking for his 10th win in 11 decisions this season.

"Josh will start on Friday because you always want to get that first game," Williams said. "You never know when inclement weather is going to come up, so you want to get that first game under your belt."

He figures to be opposed by another lefthander, Tony Armendariz, on Friday, while Saturday's game will likely be another lefthander matchup with Rodriguez going against senior Brennen Bell.

Armendairz came off the ineligible list to two-hit Dumas in Game 1 of the Bulldogs' bi-district series last Friday, and added a double, as Plainview posted a 4-0 shutout over the Demons. The win improved the senior's record to 7-3 on the year.

Bell, 8-4, had shut out Levelland in a third place playoff game on May 3, but fell behind the Demons in Game 2 by a 5-0 score before his teammates rolled up nine runs in the fifth inning, and went on to an 11-5 victory.

"We don't know anything about him. All we know is he's a southpaw," said Williams of Armendariz. The Eagle coaches did scout Game 2 lasty Saturday and said Bell, "spots the ball real well. He's got average speed, but he spots the ball and is going to make you hit his pitch."

Offensively, the Bulldogs are averaging a little better than two steals per game. "They're real aggressive, and they've got a good catcher (Peter Gonzales) and play good defense," Williams said of the Bulldogs, who are making their fifth playoff appearance in the past six seasons.

Gonzales had three hits and three stolen bases in the 11-5 win, and added a double in Friday's victory. Carson Taylor also had a pair of hits in the series-clinching win, which raised Plainview's record to 17-11 on the season.

Meanwhile, Williams said the four players who were banged up in Monday's 16-4 win at Alpine were all able to practice Wednesday, though they're still not at 100 percent.

"They're all sore, but we had a good workout on Tuesday and Wednesday," Williams said. "Oscar (Luna) didn't swing the bat on Tuesday but he did yesterday. It kind of jarred him, but he feels like it would be all right."

Luna was spiked in the base of the thumb by Kevin Bates, when the two outfielders collided. It came after pitcher/second baseman Louis Valencia was hit in the knee by a line drive and before pitcher Pifi Montoya was nailed in the shoulder by a foul ball while in the Pecos dugout.

"Louis is practicing also. He's moving around but he's still limping. Kevin's still sore, but at this time of the year, they're all going to be ready to play," Williams said.

The winner of this weekend's series will face the winner of the series between El Paso Riverside and Pampa, scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Hobbs, N.M.

Eagles' Bates gets all-state in swimming

PECOS, May 13 -- Pecos Eagles' junior Kevin Bates didn't make it to the State Swimming and Diving Finals this year, but Eagles' coach Terri Morse said the junior was still honored with an all-state award for his time at the Region I meet back in February.

Bates' 21.85 time in the 50 freestyle was fourth at regionals, but Morse said he earned the all-state award because it was ranked among the 20 best times overall.

"The ones who went to state are going to get it anyway, but because his time was so fast he and the kid in front of him (San Angelo's Billy Patterson) both got all state," Morse said. "He only missed All-American time by a couple of 100ths of a second."

She said Bates' time was 18th best overall in Texas, but in the Top 3 among swimmers in Class 4A, which is where the Eagles will be competing next year, after the University Interscholastic League voted to split the regional and state meets into a Class 5A division and a Class A through 4A division.

Morse said the two divisions will be divided into four regions, like most other UIL sports. "Under the new rules, the top two finishers in each region in 4A and the top two finishers in 5A will advance to the state meet, and then they'll add the next eight best times to have 16 overall."

"If Kevin can do that well in the 50 free next year I'll be real pleased," said Morse, who hopes Bates can also have a shot in the 100 freestyle next year.

Pistons stay alive; Blazers extinguish Suns

By The Associated Press
It was payback time for the Detroit Pistons. For the Portland Trail Blazers, it was just time.

Having suffered consecutive 20-point defeats and on the verge of elimination from the NBA playoffs, the Pistons handed the Atlanta Hawks a near-record 79-63 defeat Wednesday night.

``They were facing the prospect of going home if they lost,'' Atlanta guard Mookie Blaylock said. ``They came out and did the job they had to do, and I tip my hat to them.''

Portland snapped a six-year drought and finally got to the second round of the playoffs, completing a three-game sweep of the Phoenix Suns, 103-93. The Blazers had not won a playoff series since they went to the NBA Finals in 1992.

The 142-point Atlanta-Detroit game set an NBA playoff record for fewest points by both teams. The previous low was 143 when Chicago beat Miami 75-68 two years ago.

Bison Dele had 12 points and nine rebounds. Lindsey Hunter and Grant Hill scored 12 points, and Joe Dumars had 11.

Trail Blazers 103, Suns 93

At Phoenix, Brian Grant scored six of his 20 points and Greg Anthony scored all eight of his points in the final four minutes, when Portland outscored the Suns 24-10.

``I think this is a good testament of our character. I think this was a growth game for us, a growth series,'' Anthony said.

Kings 84, Jazz 81, OT

Vlade Divac hit two key shots in the final 47 seconds of overtime. Sacramento can wrap up the series with another win at home Friday night.

It was the first time Sacramento had won a playoff game at home, and the first for the Kings franchise since April 22, 1981, when they were in Kansas City.

Knicks 97, Heat 73

In New York, the Knicks used an incredible 32-2 streak to defeat the Heat. The victory gave the Knicks a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series and left Miami on the brink of first-round elimination at New York's hands for the second straight season.

If the Heat lose Game 4 on Friday, they will become just the second top-seeded team in NBA history to lose to a No. 8 seed.

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