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Soviets Licking Wounds After 21-1 Loss To Navy

April 12, 1989

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Yes, Comrade, baseball remains the U.S. national pastime for now, as the Soviet baseball team looks to rebound today after taking a 21-1 shellacking from the Navy.

″This is the motherland of baseball and we don’t presume to come here to beat these guys,″ Soviet manager Alexander Ardatov said through an interpreter after the game Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy.

″If we win, that’s wonderful,″ he said, ″but our mission is to learn how to play baseball from the Americans. It’s your game.″

The Soviets may have gotten an inkling they were in for a rough afternoon when they had to face the U.S. flag during the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The Soviet flag was not raised before the game because it is not customary for a foreign flag to be raised on a U.S. military base.

Once the game started, Navy took advantage of Soviet errors and walks, scoring 10 runs on three hits in the first inning en route to the exhibition victory.

The Soviets allowed eight walks, eight errors, eight wild pitches and four hit batters in the game.

They meet George Washington University today in the second stop of a 12- game U.S. tour.

″You could see they were nervous,″ Navy catcher Tim Peifley said. ″They’re not used to playing in front of this many people. But we’re not, either.″

About 900 people attended the game, including a group of children from a nearby school who adopted the Soviet team for the day, carrying banners that read ″Go Russia,″ and ″Beat Navy.″

Despite the 21 runs, just one of Navy’s 12 hits was for extra bases.

The Soviets, who had three hits, scored their only run in the fifth inning on their first hit of the game, a double by Leonid Komeyev to score Sergey Zhigalov. Zhigalov reached first on a fielder’s choice and scored on the double.

The 18-member Soviet team is using American-made equipment presented to them before the tour.

Despite the lopsided victory, the Soviet team is much better than it was nine months ago when a U.S. team visited Russia, said Elliot Bloom, an official with Taco Bell, which is sponsoring the tour.

″They didn’t know how to bunt or steal or slide,″ said Bloom. ″They’re less mechanical in throwing and their fielding style is much improved.″

Ardatov said he thought his squad ″could have done a lot better″ but he averred there is no such thing as a ″routine play″ for Soviet players yet.

″We have no baseball culture yet,″ said Viktor Pyanych, the assistant coach. ″What we have to do is teach the kids, at 8 and 10, how to play. And then, 10 years from then, we’ll be a threat, you’ll see.″

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