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NEWS | April 5, 2007

BASEBALL: Warhawks slip to Astros

By Raymond V. Whelan 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

The moon was full, it was April Fool's Day, and at times, both teams looked foolish.

By the time the game was over, the Lackland Warhawks Varsity Baseball Team suffered a disappointing defeat to the Astros in the San Antonio Senior Men's Baseball League.

Lackland lost 8-5 to the Astros during nine innings Sunday at Warhawk Field on Lackland AFB. Starting pitcher Keith Bratton took the loss for the Warhawks, who are now 2-2 in the SAMSBL.

The game started well enough for the Warhawks as they came to bat during the top of the first inning. Astros starter Pedro Soto issued walks to catcher Andrew Taylor and second baseman Mario Villarreal, and he gave up an infield hit to shortstop Nathan Zimmerman.

Yet, Lackland failed to score as Soto got out of the bases-loaded jam with two strikeouts and a groundout.

The Astros posted a 2-0 lead during the bottom of the first. Bratton retired the first two Astros on slow rollers to third baseman John Rose. However, Astros shortstop Kenneth Richter followed with a double, and first baseman Rhett Higgs singled. Third baseman Anthony Pacheco doubled to drive home Richter and Higgs.

Lackland shortened the Astros' lead to 2-1 during the top of the second. Left fielder Keith Simon doubled and scooted to third base on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Greg Willett.

An infield out by Bratton sent Simon across the plate.

The Astros loaded the bases with three-straight singles during the bottom of the second. Nevertheless, the Astros did not score, as Rose fielded two ground balls and forced out two runners at home plate, and Willett caught a long ball by Richter to end the inning.

Through the end of the third inning, the Astros were up 4-1. Higgs went to first base after a pitch hit him. Pacheco walked. Catcher Pedro Ramos walked. Soto struck out. Higgs and Pacheco scored after right fielder Zack Woodward reached first on an infield error.

Lackland got out of the inning after Zimmerman, Villarreal and first baseman and coach Davin Dukes completed a double play.

Things got worse for the Warhawks during the bottom of the fourth, when the Astros scored four more runs to go up 8-1. First baseman Randy Cuellar scored from third base on a walk to Pacheco with the sacks full. Richter scored from third on a wild pitch. Bratton walked Higgs. Bratton left the mound, and Rose took over. Ramos touched Rose for a base hit that sent Pacheco and Higgs home.

But that was the best the Astros could do against Rose. Through the remainder of the game, Rose did not surrender another hit, and he kept the Astros from building upon their big lead. Furthermore, Rose struck out 10 and walked just one.

"He can throw hard," Dukes said about Rose. "He can throw three pitches - a fastball, a slider and a changeup - for confident, effective strikes."

As they attempted to catch up to the Astros, Lackland added one run during the fifth inning, one during the eighth and two in the ninth.

Bratton stayed in the game as an extra hitter, and he scored on a double by Villarreal during the fifth. Taylor walked during the eighth for the fourth time of the game and scored on a single by pinch hitter Luther Lawson.

Quirky situations permitted the Warhawks to put up a valiant last stand and score twice during the ninth.

Extra Justin Ailor led off and struck out. However, Ailor reached first after the ball passed Ramos at home plate. As right fielder Keith Simon hit a grounder toward second base, the Astros infield failed to force out Ailor.

Pinch hitter Travis Nelson struck out. The ball passed Ramos again. While the umpire ruled Nelson out at first, Ailor trotted to third, and Simon made his way safely to second.

Next, Bratton batted the ball toward the mound to drive Ailor across home plate. Simon moved to third. While substitute third baseman Joseph Zayas was at bat, Simon scored on a wild pitch.

Altogether, Lackland had eight hits. Seven Warhawks were in scoring position and failed to tally a run. Both Villarreal and Zimmerman went 2-for-3, and Simon went 2-for-4.

For the Astros, Ramos went 2-for-3 as his team collected nine hits and six walks total.

The Astros committed no errors in the field. During the eighth inning, Astros center fielder Joe Biggs caught a deep fly by Lackland extra hitter Fabian Salazar. As Villarreal tagged up from third base and tried to score, Biggs threw a strike to Ramos at home plate. Ramos tagged out Villarreal by two feet.

Originally, SAMSBL officials had scheduled the game for Saturday at Sullivan Field at the University of the Incarnate Word. Heavy rain forced them to reschedule it for Sunday at the Warhawk. Next, Lackland will play the White Sox at 10 a.m. April 14 at the Warhawk.