The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 18, 1991 · Page 18
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 18

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Friday, October 18, 1991
Page 18
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B-4Baseball, preps the Cincinnati enquirer Friday, October 18, 1991 MMO League Championship Series l6BMMKVi?QT6! Pirates' loss like 'shot through heart' .1 V BY GREG BOECK Gannett News Service PITTSBURGH The smell of champagne came down the hall, from the other locker room. Inside the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse, Mike LaValliere slumped dejectedly on a couch. "What's next?" the catcher who is pondering free agency said. "I'm going to Clark's Bar to see how business is doing." Business closed for the season at Three Rivers Stadium Thursday night when the Pirates lost Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves, 4-0. It took the Braves 169 games to complete their worst-to-first season. For the Pirates, it took little more than a week to go from the best to a mess. Baseball's biggest winners (98 victories) in the regular season blew a 3-2 lead in games at home, where they forged the game's best record in 1991. "Last year I felt we were shot in the leg," said centerfielder Andy Van Slyke. "This year I feel like I've been shot right through the heart. I thought we had all the ingredients. Time is the only thing that will heal this one." The Pirates 20-game winner, John Smiley, went 0-2 with a 23.62 earned run average in the postseason. He lasted just six batters Thursday in Atlanta's three-run first and only retired eight of the 18 Braves he faced in the NLCS. "I let the team down again," said Smiley. "It's an embarrassment to myself and the team. I hate to see it end this way. This hurts more than last year, but you have to live with it." Pittsburgh's big three 3-4-5 hitters Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds combined were 8-for-39 with runners on base, l-for-18 with runners in scoring position and hit .200 with one homer and three runs batted in. That's hauntingly familiar to last season's playoffs against Cincinnati in which they hit .194 with no homers and five RBIs. "Can I explain it? No," said Van Slyke. "It's the same old story. We just didn't get it done at the plate. I'm probably the biggest reason." The offense, which led the NL in runs and batting average, scored one run in the last three games, 12 in 63 innings and went scoreless at home the final 27 innings. Irate fans There were 11,000 empty seats in Three Rivers Stadium and the Pirates were booed as early as the first inning. Bonds said that's something the Pirates didn't deserve after winning 193 games and two consecutive division titles. "I'm (mad) at the fans," Bonds said. "This team busted its rear to win the national championship and they boo us? That's weak. I don't care if they do get mad. We didn't deserve that. You think we wanted to lose?" M , A f v' h-f f r' f Outlook for the weekend's top high school football games and Dave Schutte's selections (Saturday games noted). ANDERSON (6-1) AT GLEN ESTE (6-1), 7:30 p.m.: Picking the outcome of this neighborhood rivalry that will decide the Queen City Conference American Division title may be the toughest assignment of the season. Glen Este quarterback Mike Ayers leads a Trojan offense that averages 335 yards a game while the run-oriented Redskins counter with an offense that runs up 329 yards a game behind backs Lou Andreadis and Jason Druso. Pick Anderson. HARRISON (6-1) AT NORWOOD (6-1), 7:30 p.m.: This battle will decide the Queen City Conference National Division championship. Fullback Marc Edwards, who has rushed for 1,328 yards in seven games, leads a balanced Indian attack. Harrison counters with an offense built around quarterback Mike Huff who has thrown for 1,022 yards. Pick Harrison. ROSS (6-1) AT SPRINGBORO (7-0), 7:30 p.m.: Springboro quarterback Matt Knee has completed 91 passes, good for 1,412 yards while Ross sophomore QB Chris Stringer has thrown for 736 yards, in a game which will determine the Fort Ancient Valley Conference championship. Pick Springboro. OAK HILLS (4-3) AT WESTERN HILLS (5-2), 8 p.m.: The Mustangs seek to defend their Metro County Conference championship. Rob Jones, who has thrown for 702 yards, will have to find a way to penetrate a Western Hills defense that has allowed only 85 points in six games. The West Hi defense will be the difference. Pick Western Hills. LA SALLE (4-3) VS. PURCELL MARIAN (7-0) at Norwood Stadium, Saturday, 8 p.m.: In any outing that matches a Division I team against Division III, the bigger school often prevails. Purcell Marian must stop the Lancers' outstanding tailback, Ty Douthard. On the other hand, the Lancer defense must key on Terry Killens, Purcell Marian's running back who has picked up 1,041 yards in seven games. A low scoring, closely contested game is expected. Pick Purcell Marian. LOCKLAND (6-1) AT NEW MIAMI (5-2), 7:30 p.m.: A diversified Lockland offense, featuring quarterback Brian Wilschev-ick and wide receiver Josh Havens, could prove a tough task for a strong New Miami defense which has allowed about one touchdown a game. However, the Vikings have had trouble scoring. The Panthers are alive and well in the Division V playoffs and this game is a must for Lockland. Pick Lockland. KETTERING ALTER (5-2) VS. MOELLER (5-2) at Gal-breath Field, 8 p.m.: Moeller faces an Alter squad that is fighting for a Division III playoff berth. Crusader quarterback Shawn Brennan recovered from a disastrous performance against Elder two weeks ago to lead Moeller past La Salle last week. Brennan will have to be on target against an Alter team that has scored 176 points against a tough schedule. Pick Moeller. MOUNT HEALTHY (4-3) AT COLERAIN (3-4), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Since upsetting La Salle, Mount Healthy has gone into a skid, turning the ball over an average of four times a game. Colerain continues to improve, averaging 294 yards on offense per game with Brian Randolph leading the attack. Pick Colerain. MIDDLETOWN (6-1) AT HAMILTON (4-3), 8 p.m.: The Big Blue handed the Middies their only regular season loss last season despite a poor record entering the contest. Hamilton will have to get the offense in gear against Middletown which allows 156 yards per game. The Middies also feature a potent offense that averages 335 yards. Pick Middletown. KINGS (5-2) AT MASON (4-3), 7:30 p.m.: In the 26-year history of this heated rivalry between two schools that are about a mile apart, Mason has prevailed 22 times, never losing at home. But this home winning streak and domination could come to an abrupt ending if the smaller Knights execute as they did in victories over Turpin and Little Miami. Pick Kings. Last week 8-2, overall 56-14. The Associated PressCarol Francsville Andy Van Slyke was hopping mad after David Justice hauled in Van Slyke's fly ball at the base of the fence in right field. aaaaa ysy Kz'i 1 1 1 i 7: i I CCD's Heimann, Jeffers top locals at state tennis f "0tm 1 1 1 '- , ' f?4. The Associated PressCarol Francsville Brian Hunter connects on his two-run homer in the first inning. The blast provided more than enough runs for the eventual NL champs. Braves CONTINUED FROM PAGE B-l plate could be stacked higher than the hills of western Pennsylvania: The Pirates were held scoreless the last 27 innings at home, and last 22 overall. Andy Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds had one hit in their last 36 at-bats with men on base. Bonds was 0-for-16, including the last gasp, a fly to left with two men on in the eighth. His playoff RBI total for two years is one. Overall, the three hit a combined .200. Last year they hit .190. Pittsburgh went 13 post-season games in 1990 and '91 without ever scoring more than two runs in an inning. It was a shocking offensive collapse that the Pirates never came close to solving. And it is to be their legacy. The Pirates now know what the Los Angeles Dodgers discovered in September. The Braves could not be shaken or shook. The Braves became the first National League team to win the pennant with three victories on the road, and all were shutouts. So the city of Atlanta, home of the Braves for 25 years, at last has a professional sports team in prime time. No one not the Braves or Falcons or Hawks or Flames have ever been in the finals of anything. That covers 81 seasons. After selling out the first three playoff games, the Pirates had more than 11,000 empty seats Thursday. The Braves threw a pall over Three Rivers Stadium and chased Smiley into a dismal departure after facing only six batters. Lonnie Smith's walk and Terry Pendleton's single was followed by Ron Gant's sacrifice fly to score Smith. One batter later, Hunter drilled the first pitch from Smiley over the left-field wall. Greg Olson's single then convinced manager Jim Leyland it was time for Bob Walk. The bullpen pitched well, giving up three hits in eight innings. But that was six batters too late for a pennant. "Our MVP was really (catcher) Greg Olson and our defense," Avery said. "We threw the ball up there for strikes and let them do the work." Smiley won 20 games this year, Avery, Smoltz zeroed in THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PITTSBURGH Steve Avery and John Smoltz showed that the last shutout string was the most important in the NL playoffs. Avery's two 1-0 victories got him the Most Valuable Player award and Smoltz led Atlanta to a 4-0 victory Thursday night in Game 7. "I haven't even really thought about the MVP," Avery said in the boisterous Braves clubhouse. "To me the biggest thing is getting into the World Series. That means more to me than any individual thing." Avery said he spent the early part of the week preparing Smoltz for the seventh-game assignment. "I was pumping him," Avery said. "I told him if the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to beat us, they were going to have to earn it." The Pirates couldn't even earn any runs when they got home from a Game 5 win in Atlanta. Pittsburgh pitchers had set a playoff record with 26 consecutive scoreless innings. But Avery and Alejandro Pena combined on a four-hit shutout in Game 6 and Smoltz pitched a six-hitter in Game 7. The Braves shut out the Pirates for 27 consecutive innings in Three Rivers Stadium. Pittsburgh's last run at home came in the eighth inning of the first game. The Pirates batted just .161 against Avery in the series. Of their nine hits, eight were singles. "I was fortunate that they weren't swinging the bats as well as they had all during the year," Avery said. In 137 postseason series, Avery is the first pitcher to win two 1-0 games. His first victory came in Game 2, after the Pirates had beaten 20-game winner Tom Glav-ine in the opener. failed them. Bell missed the tag on a stealing Gant for what should have been the third out. Hunter then doubled in Gant. How the runs scored BRAVES FIRST: I Smith waked. Pendleton singled to second, L.Smith to third. Gant hit sacrifice fly to left fielder Bonds, L.Smith scored. Justice struck out. Hunter homered down the left field line on 0-0 count, Pendleton and Hunter scored. Olson singled to left. Walk relieved Smiley. Lemke grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop Bel, Olson forced at second. 3 runs, 3 hits. Braves 3, Pirates 0. BRAVES FIFTH: L.Smith struck out. Pendleton grounded out to first baseman Merced. Gant walked. Gant stole second. Justice intentionally walked. Hunter doubled down the left field line, Gant scored, Justice to third. Olson struck out. I run, 1 hit. Braves 4, Pirates 0. Paige Heimann and Cindy Jeffers, Division II district doubles champions, head a contingent of local athletes in Columbus this weekend to compete in the tennis and golf state championships. The Cincinnati Country Day duo appear to have the best chance of bringing home a state tennis title. Overall, five singles players Julie Peirson (Talawanda), Aymee Hathaway (Anderson), Margie Spray (Summit Country Day), Arli Eiseman (Summit Country Day) and Donna Thomas (CCD) and five doubles teams will compete. Teams from St. Xavier and Sycamore are Cincinnati's only remaining hopes for a Division I state golf championship. Led by Pete Kelly, Steve Kline and Mike Isaac, the Bombers will be out to conquer Ohio State's tough Scarlet Course in the 36-hole classic that concludes on Saturday. Bombers' coach worried Two weeks ago, St. Xavier cross country coach Larry Mer-kel had high hopes that the Bombers had the potential to make a run at the state championship. Today, Merkel is wondering if the St. Xavier runners will finish in the top four at Saturday's district meet at Princeton and qualify for the regional meet in Troy. Merkel's pessimism has suddenly developed as the result of two bizarre accidents involving St. Xavier's top runner, James Devanney and Quen Metzler. First, the Bombers lost Devanney, their No. 1 runner, in a freak accident during practice at Rapid Run Park. Devanney didn't see a sign pole and severely cut his right leg, requiring more than 100 stitches. Wednesday, Quen Metzler, St. Xavier's No. 2 runner, fractured his right foot while helping his mother (Sarita) coach a youth soccer team. Metzler acci-dently stepped on a soccer ball, causing the break. Seton, Mercy meet Seton and Mercy will go at it one more time this season in the Division I sectional finals Saturday at Lockland. The Girls Greater Cincinnati League rivals posted victories Thursday. Seton defeated Aiken, 15-6, 15-3, while the No. 1 -seeded Bobcats downed Western Hills, 15-3, 15-8. In an upset, McNicholas bested No. 4 seeded Turpin in Division II action at Lakota. The Rockets will take on No. 2 seeded Roger Bacon for the sectional title on Saturday. Blanchester, which won only six games during the regular season, upset No. 3 seeded Oak-wood, 15-11, 15-8, in the Division III sectional volleyball tournament Thursday at Kings. DAVE SCHUTTE but that will now be secondary in the minds of a good many Pittsburgh fans. He was ripped in Game 3, ripped in Game 7, and that will be a lot to live down. Leyland was asked what happened to Smiley. "I can't answer that," he said. "I'm not that smart. Nobody is. He was probably trying a little too hard." But there are other Pirate goats, and they were on display in the Pittsburgh first. Orlando Merced and Jay Bell opened with singles against Smoltz. Had the Terrible Trio come alive there, Smoltz might have been rocked. Things might have gone differently. But Van Slyke hit a deep drive to right that Dave Justice caught in front of the wall. Bonilla popped up lamely. Bonds grounded out. The door to a second chance had opened, and then closed. Smoltz was asked to comment. "Huge," he replied. "I didn't expect to come out of that with no runs. I just wanted to limit the damage." The Braves made it 4-0 in the fifth, when even the Pirate defense ATLANTA PITTSBURGH abrhbl abrhbl LoSmthlt 3 10 0 Merced lb 4 0 10 KtMctHH 1 0 0 0 JBellss 4 0 10 Pndltn3b 5 1 1 0 VnSlykcf 4 0 0 0 Gantcf 3 111 Bonilla rf 4 0 10 Justicerf 3 0 0 0 Bonds II 4 0 10 Hunter lb 4 13 3 Buechele 3b 4 0 0 0 Olson c 3 0 10 LVHerec 3 0 10 Lemke 2b 3 0 0 0 Llnd 2b 4000 BeMard ss 3 0 10 Smiley p 0 0 0 0 Smottl p 2 0 0 0 Walk p 10 0 0 Espy ph 10 0 0 ' Mason p 0 0 0 0 Wlkrsn ph 10 0 0 Belinda p 0 0 0 0 Totals 30 4 4 4 Totals 34 0 4 0 Atlanta 300 010 000-4 Pittsburgh 000 000 000-0 E-Lemke (1). LOB-Atlanta I, Pittsburgh t. 28-Hunter (2), Bonds (I). HR-Hunter (1). SB-Gant (7). S-Smolt:. SF-Gant. IP H RER BB SO Atlanta SmoltiW,2-0 9 6 0 0 1 8 Pittsburgh Smiley LO-2 V) 3 3 3 1 1 Walk 4(4 2 1 1 3 3 Mason 2 10 0 10 Belinda 2 0 0 0 2 2 Balk-Walk. Umpires-Home, Harvey; First, Pull; DeMuth; Third, Gregg; Left, Davidson; Right, T-3:04. A-46,932. Atlanta's 21 -year-old Steve Avery displays sawy of wily old veteran f Tim A.A Sullivan gushed after Avery had beaten the Pirates in Game Six Wednesday. "And I'd put him in probably better company than that if there was any, going in this (playoff) setting. I don't know if I've ever seen anybody pitch that well." During his coaching stops in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Miller has supervised three Cy Young Award winners and seven different 20-game winners. Yet Avery's last two outings this October find him fresh out of comparisons. In successive post-season starts against baseball's winningest team, Avery has pitched I6V3 shutout innings, striking out 17 and allowing nine hits. In Game Two, no Atlanta outfielder was required to make a putout until the eighth inning. In PITTSBURGH By the time Steve Avery is an aging veteran of, say, 25, perhaps he will be able to appreciate all he has already achieved. Perhaps the hitters will solve him somewhere along the way, and big-league pitching will no longer seem child's play. Perhaps he will lose his fastball, or his nerve, or the acne that underscores his comparative adolescence. Or perhaps the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series is only beginning a career of Cooperstown caliber. Maybe the kid who led the Atlanta Braves into the World Series has not yet begun to fright: "You're talking about (Bob) Gibson and (Sandy) Koufax and people like that," Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Miller the four left-handed pitchers who have won 300 games in the major leagues Warren Spahn (363), Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (327), and Lefty Grove (300) only Carlton won his first game before the age of 25. Avery's frame of reference is so recent, though, that the pitcher who impressed him most growing up in Michigan is the guy who will start Game One of the World Series for Minnesota: Jack Morris. Should they meet this week, do not expect Steve Avery to be star-struck. "How can you get excited about Jack Morris," he said, "when you get to meet Jane Fonda?" Tim Sullivan is Enquirer sports columnist. confidence this season and improved his record from 3-11 to 18-8. "I'm more relaxed and more comfortable now," he says. "When I get a little bit hyper, I rush my front leg out and that affects my control." Steve Avery hyper? That guy is long gone. In the Braves' push for the National League West pennant, he finished with five straight victories and a 2.14 earned-run average over his last eight starts. He anticipates some jitters on Nov. 2 the day he gets married but has stayed remarkably cool during the stretch drive. "He's unflappable," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "He just will not bend." Avery is already several seasons ahead of baseball's most accomplished lefties. Of ! Wednesday's Game Six, no Pirate advanced past first base against Avery. Both times, the Braves backed his efforts with only one run. "Poison Avery," Pirate center fielder Andy Van Slyke has dubbed him. As of yet, there does not appear to be an antidote. Regularly pounded as a rookie last year, Avery located his control and his f

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