Ruben Rivera (pictured), Erick Rodriguez and Doug Clark slammed home runs and nine pitchers combined to limit the Northern Zone to one run on six hits as the Southern Zone trounced the North, 11-1, on May 29 at the 79th Mexican League All-Star Game in front of 14,633 fans in Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero.
Rivera opened the game’s scoring for the LMB South when the Campeche outfielder belted a two-run, line-drive homer to left off North starter Andres Meza of Puebla. Meza had a tough time, letting in three runs on four hits in his one inning of mound work. He was followed by eleven more pitchers for the North as the South offense combined to rack up 17 hits.
Surprisingly, the 3-0 South lead held through five innings, but after North manager Orlando Sanchez of Saltillo made six defensive changes in the top of the sixth, things started getting ugly. With two out, Quintana Roo’s Carlos Gastelum singled in Oaxaca’s Rodriguez and Veracruz shortstop Hector Hernandez tripled in Gastelum to put the South up 5-0.
Things really got out of hand in the seventh when the Tigres’ Clark swatted a three-run blast off Puebla’s Luis Ramirez to make it 8-0, and another Gastelum RBI single put the South further ahead. Rodriguez clubbed a two-run shot off Mexico City’s Jean Machi in the top of the ninth to cap the scoring for the South. Laguna’s Emmanuel Valdez stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the frame to put the North on the scoreboard, but it was purely academic by then.
Rivera ended up going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and was named the game MVP, a somewhat surprising pick since South teammate Clark went 2-for-3 with three ribbies. Veteran Campeche star Francisco Campos earned the win with a 1-2-3 first inning, while Meza was tagged with the loss.
One day earlier, Puebla’s Mendy Lopez outdueled Veracruz slugger Victor Diaz in the final round to win the Home Run Derby. Lopez also won the 2008 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Tijuana while a member of the Monterrey Sultanes.