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Inter-city play under way

June 11, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

SUNBEAM LAKE — The Sunbeam Little League Padres proved Monday that on any given day in any given game, just about anything can happen.

In the opening round of the double-elimination inter-city 9-12-year-old minor league tournament here, the Padres fought back from a four-run deficit to defeat the Holtville Little League Cardinals 8-7.

"We've been through this all year. Throughout the regular season we've come back from about five or six games where we were down," said Padre coach Simon Canalez. "We've been through this type of adversity and have fought through it and we did it again tonight."

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The Cardinals held a 7-3 lead after four innings in the six-inning game. But Sunbeam battled back in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five runs.

"We just focused on the team concept. I've been telling these kids that you have to play six innings of baseball," said Canalez. "Like I said, we've been in situations like this all year, but we've just focused on playing six innings of baseball."

The rally began when Canalez's son, Simon Jr., and Ryan Burgun came through with the big hits in the fifth, combining for five RBI. Simon Canalez Jr. got a two-run single. With two out Burgun knocked in three with a double to right field to give the Padres the lead.

"I knew we could pull it out. We've done it before and I knew we could do it again," said Simon Canalez Jr. "I think it was easier for us because we've been in this kind of situation before, so we knew what we had to do."

The Padres found themselves in a hole as the Cardinals kicked off the contest with a three-run first inning.

Sunbeam cut the score to 3-2 with two runs in the bottom of the first, but Holtville came back with four runs over the next three innings. In that three-inning stretch the Padres added just one more run, cutting the score to 5-3.

Keeping the Sunbeam bats in check was Cardinal pitcher Jeffrey Pacheco, who finished with nine strikeouts in five innings.

In the fifth inning, however, Pacheco started to show signs of fatigue and the Padres took advantage.

Padre pitcher Justin McAbee was impressive for Sunbeam. Despite Holtville scoring seven runs, McAbee did enough to keep his team in the contest, recording 11 Ks in five innings.

Up 8-7 in the sixth, the Padres brought in their closer, Roger Velazquez, who gave up one hit and got one strikeout in the final frame.

"I was sort of nervous when I went out there, but I didn't feel any real pressure on me," said Velazquez. "Even when I gave up that one hit in the inning, I wasn't nervous because I knew we already had two outs and only needed one more to win it."

Velazquez got the last out on a Taylor Wilcox ground-out.

"This was a good game for us, but we can't continue to do this," said Canalez Sr. "We can't let down. We just have to keep playing baseball."

Sunbeam will be back in action at 7:30 tonight on field No. 1 at Sunbeam as it takes on Brawley, which beat Imperial 15-4 in other tournament action Monday.

Calexico defeated El Centro 16-0 on Monday to advance to the second round to take on Seaview, which had a bye in the first round. That game also will be at 7:30 tonight on field No. 3 at Sunbeam.

In other action today, Holtville will take on Imperial at 5:30 at field No. 3. El Centro will play the loser of the Brawley/Sunbeam game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at field No. 1.

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