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Vasquez’s Speed Key for South

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The South squad closed out the 1996 prep baseball season with a 15-7 victory over the North in the 29th Kiwanis all-star game Tuesday at La Palma Park.

The South had 14 hits against five North pitchers, and had all the extra-base hits, one double, one triple and home runs by Rick Gonzalez, Mike Hessman and Ryan Blackmun.

But the game’s MVP, Alex Vasquez, did not have a hit. But with his speed, Vasquez scored twice, stole three bases, forced three of six errors by the North and was the catalyst for the two five-run innings the South put together in the fifth and sixth innings.

“This was a great way to finish high school,” said Vasquez, who set a county record for steals (44) this season at Westminster. “Everybody else was hitting bombs. But you get on base anyway you can. And when I do, I try to get into the pitcher’s heads.

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“I only wish I had a chance to steal home. That would have topped it off.”

Earlier in the day, Vasquez was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 15th round of the baseball amateur draft.

The North had its share of offense, getting eight hits (all singles) against seven South pitchers, and rebounded from deficits of 2-0 and 5-2 to take the lead in the fifth with a five-run burst against winner Craig Harrison.

But back came the South, with five runs off loser Jim Pickel before the North got an out in the fifth.

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Vasquez reached on an error, stole second and third, then scored on a wild pitch. Ryan Blood and Tony Milo walked, moved up on a wild pitch, and came home on Ryan Poe’s single to right.

“When he got to first he was almost hyperventilating,” South assistant coach Bob Flint said of Vasquez. “I told him to start running.”

Travis Senik then tripled to center--Eric Bondurant just missed a diving catch--and when the throw went into the South dugout, Senik trotted home behind Poe.

Vasquez began the sixth, reaching on an error and stealing second. Ryan Blood doubled him to third, and when Pickel’s errant pickoff throw went into left, Vasquez scored his second run.

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“We were able to get everybody in and let them do what they do best,” South Coach Joe Walters said. “Everyone throughout the lineup did a good job and contributed.”

The North’s James Penner, who had two hits, a run batted in and a stolen base, received the hustle award.

The victory, the third in the past four years, gave the South a 15-14 edge in the series.


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