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LITTLE LEAGUE NOTEBOOK / STEVE HENSON

Moorpark Simply Had to Get Loosey-Goosey

August 21, 1996|STEVE HENSON

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Can't be too loose. That's the motto of Moorpark coaches Hector Garcia, Gary Sharpe and Bobby Valenzuela.

"Before today's game the kids were laughing and pushing each other just like they did during the regionals," Valenzuela said. "I knew we were back to normal. Monday everybody was acting too proper."

Before Moorpark's 5-1 first-round loss to Cranston, R.I., the coaches learned that Little League rules required them to wear matching slacks and white polo shirts for the televised games.

This is quite a change from their typical ensemble of tank tops, shorts tied at the waist by a rope and shoes without socks.

"We felt loose, but we didn't look loose," Sharpe said.

So Tuesday, he slipped on his worn beachcomber shorts under his slacks and went sockless. The players, always on the lookout for lucky omens, loved it.

"Our coaches like to have a good time, and when they do, so do we," Erik Johnson said.

They all enjoyed Tuesday's 7-3 victory over Marshalltown, Iowa.

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Very superstitious: The rituals and taboos baseball players at all levels observe take different forms in different countries.

Several players from San Isidro, D.R., for example, wiggle the bills of their caps for good luck. And the kids from Kao-Hsuing, Taipei believe crows bring bad luck.

Said Lee Tung-Min: "If a girl touches my glove, I'll drop a ball."

Chin Hsiung Hsieh believes "if I step on dog droppings, I'll strike out."

Without a dog in sight, Hsieh went four for four with two home runs in Kao-Hsuing's first game.

*

Just win, boys: Because of Little League's tiebreaking procedure, a victory over Panama City today will qualify Moorpark for the U.S. championship game.

A victory by Cranston over Marshalltown, coupled with a Moorpark victory, would give three teams 2-1 records and Marshalltown an 0-3 mark after pool play. Only two teams advance and the tiebreaker is fewest runs allowed divided by innings played.

Moorpark has allowed eight runs in 11 innings, Cranston has allowed nine in 11 innings, and Panama City has allowed nine in 12.

If Marshalltown defeats Cranston and Moorpark wins, Moorpark and Panama City will advance.

Mercy: Frustrated by being walked intentionally for a second time by Marshalltown pitcher Mike Mogard, Johnson gave his bat a toss, an act strictly forbidden under Little League rules.

Plate umpire Jim Henegar could have thrown Johnson out of the game, but he simply pointed to first base umpire Michael Legge, who had a short chat with Johnson and let the matter drop.

*

Sending a message: Umpires also showed restraint early in Kao-Hsuing, Taipei's 9-0 victory over San Isidro, D.R.

Kao-Hsuing took a 4-0 first-inning lead in part because plate umpire Ken Docherty had a tight strike zone. When Docherty called a strike on the first pitch to a San Isidro batter, Manager Cesar Nicolas Felipe protested vigorously through a translator.

In the second, the first pitch from Jonathan Betances flew behind Chia-Che Yang, the Kao-Hsuing pitcher.

Two pitches later, Betances hit Yang in the side with a pitch, and Docherty gave Felipe a stern warning.

Being hit didn't bother Yang, who pitched a one-hitter, striking out 12 and walking one.

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