National Sports Briefs: Perfect game for Mexico pitcher
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. ó An ice pack strapped around Jesus Sauceda’s potent right shoulder slipped down into his jersey, interrupting a post-game interview.
It was about the only thing Sunday that went wrong for the 13-year-old ace pitcher for Matamoros, Mexico. Sauceda pitched the fifth perfect game in Little League World Series history and the first in 29 years when he struck out all 12 batters in a 12-0 win over Emilia, Italy.
The game went four innings instead of the usual six because of Little League’s 10-run mercy rule.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting this,” Sauceda said through translator Sergio Guzman. He proudly displayed the ball that was the final pitch on a table.
“I was just going out there to throw.”
Did he ever. Italian batters were overmatched and Sauceda starred at the plate, too, going 3-for-3 with six RBIs, including a grand slam in the third.
“The speed of that pitcher doesn’t exist in Italy,” Italian manager Andrea Bettati said, shaking his head.
In other action Sunday, Trey Quinn tossed a no-hitter for Lake Charles, La., in a 9-0 shutout of Jeffersonville, Ind.; Tokyo defeated White Rock, British Columbia, 9-3; and Maracaibo, Venezuela, shut out Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 12-0.
HOUSTON ó For the first time in a while, Craig Biggio felt butterflies.
The Houston Astros retired Biggio’s No. 7 before Sunday’s game against Arizona, and the seven-time All-Star waved to fans and touched his heart during a lively ceremony.
Biggio retired in 2007 after becoming the 27th player to reach 3,000 hits. He is Houston’s career leader in seasons played (20), at-bats (10,876), hits (3,060), extra-base hits (1,014), doubles (668) and runs (1,844).
Dressed in a blue suit, Biggio hopped out of the dugout and walked across a red carpet toward a podium set up at home plate. He was flanked on both sides by about two dozen family members and friends, including ex-teammates Jeff Bagwell, Brad Ausmus, Bill Doran and the widow of Ken Caminiti, Biggio’s teammate from 1989-94 and 1999-2000.
“To have your number retired, it’s one of the greatest things that could ever happen to you,” Biggio said. “I knew the significance of it, so I was nervous. I haven’t been this nervous in a long time.”
– BALTIMORE ó Seventeen years ago, Oriole Park at Camden Yards was considered to be a risky deviation from a formula that had served major league baseball for decades.The $106.5 million ballpark was built in downtown Baltimore, a departure from the popular notion of placing stadiums in the suburbs. Instead of being constructed primarily with concrete, it was held together by brick and steel.
Camden Yards turned out to be a wildly successful venture that would soon be duplicated around the country, in places such as Cleveland, Texas, Houston and Philadelphia. None of those new parks, however, have drawn fans at the same dizzying rate.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards will greet its 50 millionth fan on today or Tuesday night. No other stadium in the history of baseball has reached the milestone so quickly.
CHARLOTTE ó The Charlotte Bobcats have released their eight-game preseason schedule, which includes a West Coast trip and only two home games.
The Bobcats also announced Friday they’ll hold training camp at UNC Wilmington for a fourth straight season from Sept. 30-Oct. 6.
Charlotte’s exhibition opener is Oct. 8 at Orlando. The Bobcats then will visit Memphis and Atlanta.
The Bobcats’ two home games are Oct. 16 against Orlando and two days later against Atlanta. The matchup with the Magic will start at 10:30 a.m., with students from area schools attending.
– PHILADELPHIA ó The Philadelphia 76ers re-signed Andre Iguodala on Sunday, giving the forward a six-year contract worth a reported $80 million.
Iguodala, who was a restricted free agent, helped the 76ers reach the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Iguodala averaged 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals in 82 games last season. He struggled in the playoffs against Detroit, averaging 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists.
– SAN ANTONIO ó Michael Finley is poised to re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs. According to a report posted on ESPN.com Friday that cited NBA front-office sources, the 35-year-old guard-forward has reached terms on a deal with the Spurs.
– NEW YORK ó New Orleans Hornets guard Jannero Pargo is the latest player to turn his back on the NBA for Europe. Pargo signed a one-year deal with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian League, agent Mark Bartelstein said.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ó Florida State defensive end Markus White returned to practice Friday, a day after suffering a seizure and missing practice.
FSU officials said White takes medication to control an undisclosed medical condition and that Thursday was not the first time he had a seizure.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ó Just when Rafael Nadal ended Roger Federer’s long stay atop the men’s tennis rankings, Ana Ivanovic moved back to No. 1 on the women’s side.