Friday, July 30, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: July 30, 2010

Victor Mercedes (pictured) stroked a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to drive in Alejandro Gonzalez with the game-winning run to give the Oaxaca Guerreros a 5-4 win over the Quintana Roo Tigres Friday night before 7,357 ecstatic fans at Oaxaca’s Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos in the seventh and deciding game of their Mexican League Zona Hidalgo semifinal series.

The Tigres opened the scoring in the top of the second when Carlos Sievers led off with a homer to right on a full count off Oaxaca starter Heriberto Rodriguez. The Guerreros came back with four counters of their own in the bottom of the second, two on an Erick Rodriguez double against Tigres ace Bobby Cramer (who failed to last the inning). Quintana Roo knotted the score at 4-4 with another three runs in the third as Sergio Contreras doubled in Christian Quintero just before Iker Franco blasted his third homer of the series into the left field bleachers.

Things settled down after that as Quintana Roo relievers Arturo Barradas, Sandy Nin and Scott Chiasson traded zeros with Oaxaca’s Francisco Rosario through the eighth inning. Rosario retired the Tigres in order on ten pitches in the top of the ninth, but Chiasson (the 2009 LMB Reliever of the Year who tied for third in the Liga with 24 saves this season) immediately got into trouble in the bottom of the frame by allowing consecutive singles by Gonzalez and Eloy Gutierrez. The Tigres then decided to intentionally walk Jolbert Cabrera to fill the bases and pitch to Mercedes. Cabrera was hitting .360 in the series, but not a lot was gained by facing the .320-batting Mercedes instead. Sure enough, after a swinging strike to begin his duel with Chiasson, Mercedes lined a single past Tigres third sacker Jaime Trejo into left field to plate Gonzalez with the series winner.

Mercedes ended up 3-for-4 for the night and Quintana Roo leadoff batter Alex Sanchez was a perfect 4-for-4 as both teams collected 13 hits. Rosario earned the win with 6.2 innings of scoreless pitching out of the bullpen for the Guerreros while Chiasson was tagged with the loss.

Oaxaca now advances to the LMB South finals against Puebla, beginning Sunday in Puebla. The LMB North final will start tomorrow in Monterrey, where the Sultanes will host Saltillo.

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