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Loss to Honolulu Proved to Be Beginning of End for El Segundo

August 26, 1993|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A devastating loss and a pitching letdown were more than El Segundo's American Legion baseball team could overcome at the Southwestern Regional in Las Vegas.

El Segundo was eliminated in three games, losing to Honolulu, 11-9, Saturday night and Albuquerque, 10-2, Sunday after opening the tournament with a 17-10 victory over Clark of Las Vegas on Friday. The team finished 34-9.

Green Valley of Henderson, Nev., won the regional title Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over Honolulu to earn a spot in the American Legion World Series that starts Friday in Roseburg, Ore.

The turning point for El Segundo came in the second game against Honolulu. Leading 8-3 after five innings, El Segundo succumbed to a series of defensive and pitching mistakes in the late innings. Honolulu won it in the ninth after rallying for two unearned runs with two outs to break a 9-9 tie.

"That game was the crusher for us," Coach John Stevenson said. "We had them beat."

Stevenson said 10 of Honolulu's 11 runs were scored with two outs, and seven runs were scored in innings where there had been no outs and nobody on base. El Segundo committed four errors, contributing to nine unearned runs.

The team's only defensive highlight came in the second inning when third baseman Lawrence Norris started a triple play.

"This was a game where every mistake we made was capitalized on by the other team," Stevenson said. "The kids were devastated by the loss. It was one of the harder losses I've seen any of my teams take."

Pitching had been the key to El Segundo winning the state title, but the staff struggled at the regional. Left-hander David Reed, who brought an 11-1 record into the tournament, started all three games but was chased each time in the early innings. He was the losing pitcher against Albuquerque after giving up four runs in the first inning.

"We gave up more walks and hits than normal," Stevenson said. "I guess the level of competition was better. We just faced better hitters."

Despite the poor finish, Stevenson praised his team for an excellent season, saying that El Segundo's roster was made up of 10 16-year-olds who are returning high school players.

"It was a real success story with as many young kids as we had," he said. "Winning the state tournament was a real thrill. It was one of my highlights as a coach."

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