Saturday, January 2, 2010


The Mexican Northwest League (or Liga Noroeste) is down to its final two teams in their winter playoffs. The regular season champions Tepic Diablos Rojos are meeting the Santiago Tabaqueros in a best-of-7 series for the league title.

After finishing the regular season with a league-best 43-17 record, defending champion Tepic swept Compostela in three straight games to win their first round series. The Diablos lineup features LBN batting champion Eloy Gutierrez, who hit .388, but the linchpin to success for Tepic has been left-handed pitcher Juan Jose Flores. Flores, a native of Oaxaca who was once property of the Mexican League Guerreros, won the Noroeste’s pitching Triple Crown, with eight wins (and no losses), a 1.58 ERA and 54 strikeouts over the Diablos’ 60-game schedule.

Santiago finished third with a 32-27 record in the regular season before upsetting 40-20 Tuxpan in a first round sweep. The Tabaqueros are led offensively by former USA college player Franky Busani (pictured). Busani batted .329 for Santiago this winter, and led the Northwest League with 12 homers and 34 RBIs. The 6’4” 23-year-old hit .380 with 23 homers and 84 RBIs in 216 at-bats for Wayland Baptist University of Arkansas last spring after hitting .324 with 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 185 at-bats for New Mexico State in 2008. He was born in Sahuaripa, Sonora, but went to high school in Mesa, Arizona.

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