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Tuesday, July 13, 1999

LLers fall to Crane, Juniors stay alive

Staff Writer

CRANE, July 13, 1999 -- A week's worth of games in the loser's bracket finally took their toll on Pecos `B' Division Little League All-Stars on Monday, as they couldn't hold onto a late lead and lost to Crane in the finals of the District 4 Tournament.

Pecos' Junior Leaguers, meanwhile, will hope they have enough left for one more game tonight, after staying alive on Monday with a victory over San Angelo Western in the finals of the double-elimination tournament with a 13-12 victory.

The teams will play again at 6 p.m. today in Big Lake, with the winner advancing to the sub-sectionals this weekend.

The `B' team, which had rallied four times for wins since a 18-8 loss to Crane seven days earlier, scored two runs in the fourth inning, three in the fifth and two more in the sixth to turn 4-1 and 5-3 deficits into a 7-5 lead. But Crane then came up with four runs in their last at-bat and won the game 8-7 on a bases-loaded walk to Derrick Pahl by Vincent Palomino.

"We just ran out of pitchers," manager Jesse Rayos said. Palomino had come in to pitch the sixth, after John Paul Salcido had struggled through the fourth and fifth innings, allowing one run, and after starter Gerald Saenz had to be pulled in the second inning when he hit three batters and allowed four runs.

"I hoped Gerald could throw a little bit more innings, but he couldn't," Rayos said. Robert Nunez came on to replace Saenz and got the final out of the second inning then retired the side in order in the third, but was taken out of the game in the fourth, when Saenz was reinserted as a pinch hitter with the tying run on third base.

Pecos took a 1-0 lead on a bases-loaded walk to Jonathan Levario with none out in the second, after pitcher Stephen Escamilla issued two earlier walks around an error by Pahl on Isiah Rayos' grounder. But Escamilla then struck out the next three batters, and collected one of two hits in the bottom of the inning, driving in the go-ahead run for Crane.

A wild pitch would score Crane's third run, and Nunez came in after Saenz hit Avery Rigg and Jose Garcia. He earlier had hit Chris Aguilar, loading the bases to set up Andrew Villa's sacrifice fly.

Rigg came on to pitch in the fourth and was greeted by a Cody Hernandez single. Levario would walk and steal second one out later, and both runners would score off a wild pitch, when Escamilla, now at catcher, threw the ball past Rigg at home plate.

Pecos couldn't get the tying run home there, and fell behind 5-3 off a single by Escamilla and a Chad Aguilar ground out off Salcido in the bottom of the inning. Salcido gave up two more hits in the fourth, but Pecos was able to throw out Rigg at home plate, and in the fifth Salcido was able to strike out Aguilar and leave the bases loaded after a single and two walks.

In-between the Little Leaguers took a 6-5 lead, as Chris Garnto doubled to open the fifth, Markey Sotelo had an infield hit to score him and Rayos followed with an RBI double to tie the game. Rayos made it to third on a steal when Chris Aguilar dropped the throw from Escamilla, and scored when Hernandez reached on an error by Pahl at second base.

Pecos added two more runs with two outs in the sixth when Garnto reached on another Pahl error and scored on a single to left by Sotelo that was bobbled by Lloyd Chisum. Rayos then singled him home and went to third on the play at the plate, but this time Chris Aguilar held onto the ball at third, and he was tagged out, ending the inning.

Down to their last at-bats, Rigg opened the sixth with a single, and after Garcia walked, Boni Garcia and Rayos couldn't come up with grounders by P.A. Gonzales and Chisum, cutting the lead to 7-5. Palomino struck out Chris Aguilar, but walked Villa to force home a run, then saw Escamilla tie the game with a single prior to the game-winning walk to Pahl.

In the Junior League's win, Pecos saw San Angelo Western rally from an early 9-4 deficit to tie the game at 12-12 in the fifth, before winning in the bottom of the seventh when Matthew Levario's grounder to shortstop was misplayed, allowing Rigo Ramirez to score from third with one away.

Tonight's winner will join Pecos' Senior Leaguers in the subsectional tournament. The Senior League won their District 4 title on Sunday, and will play their first game on Friday in Lubbock, not Abilene as first announced, league president Tony Aguilar said today.

Gonzalez takes hits, Palmeiro gets start

BOSTON, July 13,1999 (AP) Juan Gonzalez was on everyone's mind after the Texas Rangers outfielder decided he'd rather stay home than come off the bench for the AL team.

"I think he is totally out of line refusing to be recognized as one of the greatest players," said Carlton Fisk, an 11-time All-Star and the AL honorary captain.

"I don't know whether that is a kind of attitude or selfishness on his part, but it is. I think down the line he may regret the decision."

Gonzalez, the reigning AL MVP, was angered by the high number of votes for the Cleveland Indians. Despite being third in the league in homers and RBIs, he finished fifth in the voting, behind Ken Griffey Jr. and three Indians.

Nevertheless, his colleagues were confounded by the Texas slugger's choice.

"Juan decided he didn't want to be here," Tony Gwynn said. "That's his choice. They are not going to call off the game because Juan Gonzalez isn't here."

Meanwhile, the Rangers gained a second starting player for tonight's All-Star Game when AL manager Joe Torre named Rafael Palmeiro his team's starting designated hitter to replace Jose Conseco.

Conseco, the starter elected by the fan vote, underwent surgery Sunday to repair a herniated disk in his back and will be sidelined at least six weeks.

Torre chose Baltimore's Harold Baines to replace Canseco on the AL roster, but tabbed Palmeiro to bat seventh in his starting lineup. Both Canseco and Baines are former Rangers.

"It's a big thrill (to be starting)," said Palmeiro, a reserve in three previous All-Star appearances.

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