Saltillo’s Gabriel Martinez cracked a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the top of the eighth inning and Travis Minix combined with Mario Mendoza, Jr. to hold Puebla scoreless over the last two frames as the Saraperos held on to beat the Pericos, 4-3, Thursday to take a 2-games-to-0 lead over Puebla in the Mexican League’s 2010 Bicentennial Series. A crowd of 9,111 gathered at Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan to witness the completion of a game suspended by rain after four innings Thursday night.
The defending champion Saraperos came into Thursday’s portion of the contest with a 2-1 lead after scoring twice in the second inning the night before, including an RBI single by Jesus Cota. Puebla had put their run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Ricardo Serrano singled in Cesar Tapia off Saltillo starter Hector Rodriguez (who was seeking his fifth playoff win).
When play resumed Thursday, Francisco Felix had replaced Rodriguez on the mound. Felix gave up two Pericos runs, one in the fifth when Ivan Cervantes scored on a Willis Otanez bases-loaded grounder to third base. The other Puebla tally occurred in the seventh on Otanez’ line-drive single to left that brought in Serafin Rodriguez with the go-ahead run, giving the Pericos a 3-2 advantage. Thomas Melgarejo replaced Felix after Otanez’ RBI and struck out Rene Reyes to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Jose Cobos came on in relief of Lorenzo Barcelo, who’d tossed three hitless innings as a second-day replacement on the mound for Puebla starter Guadalupe Perez. Cobos opened the inning by allowing a Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez single, but was able to get both Willie Romero and Jose Rodriguez out before leaving the contest in favor of Mauricio Lara. Lara bounced his first pitch to Martinez in the dirt before the Saltillo third baseman drilled the next offering over the centerfield wall to put the Saraperos ahead for good.
Minix had a 1-2-3 eighth for Saltillo, although it took a perfect strike from left fielder Jesus Cota to nail Miguel Torrero at second for the third out after Torrero tried stretching a single to a double. Mendoza had a 1-2-3 ninth for the Saraperos without incident to pick up the save. Melgarejo earned the win for Saltillo while Lara took the loss for Puebla. Martinez was 2-for-3 for the Saraperos, while Serrano and Torrero each collected a pair of safeties for the Pericos.
With home-field advantage now firmly in the Saraperos’ hands, the series shifts to Saltillo for the next three games (if needed). Game Three was originally scheduled for Friday at Parque Francisco I. Madero, but has now been pushed back to Saturday night at 7PM local time to allow for a travel day Friday.