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Moorpark Loses, 5-1

Baseball: Little Leaguers held to four hits by Rhode Island.

August 20, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Wound far too tight, Moorpark unraveled early and fell to Cranston, R.I., 5-1, Monday night before 12,000 fans in the first round of the Little League World Series.

Brett Bell hit a two-run home run to cap a three-run first inning and pitched a four-hitter against a Moorpark team that did not mount a serious rally until the fifth inning of the six-inning game.

"Our intent was to play loose like we did in the regional, but we were nervous and distracted," Manager Hector Garcia said. "We didn't really loosen up until the fourth inning or so."

Moorpark, which came through the loser's bracket to win three of its four previous tournaments, will benefit from the World Series format that has each of the four U.S. teams play one another. The teams with the best records advance to the national championship game Friday.

Two years ago, Northridge dropped its first game and rebounded to win the national title.

"It's only one game and we are still here," said Garcia, whose team plays Marshalltown, Iowa, today at 11 a.m. Marshalltown fell to Panama City, Fla., 8-3, Monday.

A double to right field by Erik Johnson in the sixth inning was Moorpark's only extra-base hit. Keith Pabers singled twice and Justin Pizzola singled once.

Beto Macias, a left-hander, pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings in relief of Aaron Garcia, who was lifted after allowing two runs in the third that gave Cranston (15-2) a 5-0 lead.

"I hope what I did gives the team confidence that we can win," Macias said.

Moorpark (19-4) loaded the bases in the fifth and Tommy Gunn scored on a wild pitch with two out, but Bell pitched out of the jam.

"I played it like just another game, another day at the field," Bell said.

That type of looseness characterized Moorpark in the regional qualifying tournament. But the players appeared nervous during warmup drills and the tension did not subside until late in the game.

Garcia, the manager, said his team was fatigued after playing three games Friday and flying across the country Saturday.

Moorpark was the last team to arrive here. But anybody still sleeping was given a rude awakening by Bell.

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