Friday Sports in Brief
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A witness to the deadly crash of a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others said it sounded normal just before slamming into a hillside and wreckage at the scene showed no sign of engine failure, federal investigators said in a report released Friday.
The Jan. 26 crash occurred in cloudy conditions and experts said the “investigative update” from the National Transportation Safety Board reinforces the notion the pilot became disoriented and crashed while trying to get to clear skies around Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles.
The veteran pilot, Ara Zobayan, came agonizingly close to finding his way out of the clouds.
He told air traffic control he was climbing to 4,000 feet (1,219 meters). He ascended to 2,300 feet (701 meters), just 100 feet (30 meters) from what camera footage later reviewed by the NTSB showed was the top of the clouds.
But rather than continuing higher Zobayan began a high-speed descent and left turn in rapidly rising terrain. He slammed into the hillside at more than 180 mph (290 kph) and was descending at 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) per minute.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Former fan favorite Hunter Pence is returning to the San Francisco Giants, agreeing to a contract that will give the young club a veteran presence in both the outfield and clubhouse in a season of big change ahead.
Pence will provide some stability as the Giants move into 2020 with new manager Gabe Kapler and a coaching staff that is entirely new aside from longtime coach Ron Wotus working at third base.
The 36-year-old Pence was part of the Giants’ 2012 and ’14 World Series champion teams. After a more limited role in 2018 with San Francisco as he worked to retool his hitting mechanics and rediscover his swing, he spent 2019 with the Texas Rangers and resurrected himself. He batted .297 with 18 homers, 17 doubles and 59 RBIs over 83 games.
Roger Federer wasn’t going to lose this one to Rafael Nadal.
Not on what felt like a homecoming for Federer, who beat his great rival 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a three-set exhibition match at a soccer stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday.
It was Federer’s first match in his mother’s country of birth, and the country the Swiss great rates as his second home.
Almost everything was for Federer on the night. The caps and T-shirts with RF logos all across the crowd. The “Welcome home, Roger” signs being held up. The coin for the toss, a newly minted 20 Swiss Francs with Federer’s image on it. Federer recently became the first living Swiss to be engraved on one of the nation’s coins.
Even South Africa’s biggest sports stars were in awe.
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Samantha Mewis scored twice and the U.S. national team secured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics with a 4-0 semifinal victory Friday night over Mexico in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
Rose Lavelle and Christen Press also scored for the United States, which extended its unbeaten streak to 27 games.
The United States will face Canada in the tournament’s title game on Sunday. Canada earned the region’s other Olympic berth with a 1-0 victory over surprisingly resilient Costa Rica 1-0 in the earlier match Friday.
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Coach Pat Pecora earned his 617th career victory on Friday night, breaking a 46-year-old record for most wins in college wrestling at any level.
The University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown coach passed former Oregon State coach Dale Thomas for the record across all NCAA divisions plus NAIA and junior college, with a 22-12 victory over Mercyhurst.
In his 44th season at Pitt-Johnstown, Pecora is 617-151-8. Thomas passed Kent State coach Joe Beglia’s 284 victories in 1974, and ended his career with a 616-168-13 record.
Pecora’s teams won the Division II National Championship in 1996 and ‘99, and he was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Coach of the Year in 1995, ’99, and 2019. Pecora has lead his teams to 22 NCAA regional titles, including five straight from 2003-07 and 10 from 1992-2001.
WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor issued two-game suspensions to 14 baseball players Friday over an unspecified hazing incident that occurred last February.
The school said the number of suspensions required them to would be staggered over the first three weeks of the season. The Bears open at home against Nebraska on Feb. 14.
Athletic administrators became aware of the incident last May, and an investigation by Baylor’s general counsel office and Division of Student Life followed.
The school said drugs and alcohol were not involved in the hazing incident. The names of the players weren’t released.
DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s CEO told her staff “we acted appropriately, expeditiously and in the best interest of the athletes” in the athlete-welfare cases the federation’s fired medical director complains about in a lawsuit.
In a letter sent to the staff and obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, CEO Sarah Hirshland spelled out the reasons for terminating Bill Moreau, who worked at the federation for 10 years — at the end as the vice president of sports medicine.
Hirshland also defends the USOPC’s handling of cases Moreau brought up in the lawsuit he filed this week; he claims his persistence in pressing higher-ups to take the cases more seriously led directly to his firing last May.
“Let me start by being very clear that there is absolutely no merit to the suggestion of retaliation as a cause for the separation of Bill Moreau,” Hirshland writes.
In the lawsuit, Moreau brought up a number of instances in which he urged the USOPC to take stronger action in the case of athletes who needed help.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jessica Mendoza will no longer be on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” or work for the New York Mets front office after signing a contract extension with the network.
ESPN announced Friday that Mendoza will be an analyst on weekday games as well as making appearances on various network shows, including “SportsCenter” and “Baseball Tonight.”
Mendoza’s increased appearances on ESPN have led her to resign as a baseball operations adviser to the Mets and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. She was hired as a Mets adviser last March.
Mendoza joined ESPN as a softball analyst and college football sideline reporter in 2007. She has been an MLB analyst since 2015 and was part of the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth for four seasons. Her roles with the network and the Mets had been under discussion since the end of last season.
MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) — Roger Kahn, the writer who wove memoir and baseball and touched millions of readers through his romantic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in “The Boys of Summer,” has died. He was 92.
Son Gordon Kahn said his father died Thursday at a nursing facility in Mamaroneck.
The author of 20 books and hundreds of articles, Kahn was best known for the 1972 best-seller that looked at his relationship with his father through their shared love of the Dodgers, an object of nostalgia for the many fans who mourned the team’s move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
TORONTO (AP) — Brian Glennie, a hard-hitting defenseman who spent most of his 10-year NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, has died. He was 73.
Glennie, who was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, helped the national team win Olympic bronze at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, under Father David Bauer.
The Maple Leafs confirmed his death on Friday.
Glennie was No. 94 on the 2016 list, part of the franchise’s centennial anniversary.
Glennie, born on Aug. 29, 1946 in Toronto, captained the AHL Toronto Marlies to a 1967 Memorial Cup win on a team that included Brad Park and Mike Pelyk. He spent time at Michigan State before splitting the 1968-69 season with the minor-league Rochester American and Tulsa Oilers.
After nine seasons with the Maple Leafs, he finished his career in 1978-79 with the Los Angeles Kings.