Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CAMPESINOS LEAD VERACRUZ WINTER LEAGUE, TEN GAMES LEFT

The Paso de Ovejas Campesinos have a one-game lead over the Acayucan Tobis in the Veracruz Winter League standings with ten games left in the regular season.

The 12-6-1 Campesinos have six players batting .314 or better, including DH Ruben Agramon's .385 and veteran 1B Cristhian Presichi at .377.  LF Marcos Vechionacci hits .347 and provides pop with five doubles, five triples and a pair of homers in 19 games.   Five Paso de Ovejas pitchers have two wins apiece.  Roberto Ramirez (2-0/2.05) has been the most effective.

Acayucan has two outfielder hitting over .360: Daniel Nunez is raking at .367 while Jerry Puentes has a .364 average.  Longtime Mexican League hurler Jaciel Acosta is the 10-6-0 Tobis' number one pitcher with a 3-0 record and 14 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.  Juan Grijalva has gone 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA and has recorded 11 whiffs over 10.1 frames.

The Xalapa Chileros are third in the LIV standings at 9-9-1 and the defending champion Los Tuxtlas Brujos hold the fourth and final playoff berth with a 9-9-0 mark.  Manager Pedro Mere's Brujos are loaded with veterans like RF Luis Terrero, 1B Emmanuel Valdez and DH Karim Garcia.  The 7-12 Chiapas Tucanes are fifth while the Pelanque Guacamayas bring up the rear at 5-10-0.

Winter league ball has been played in Veracruz for decades, although this edition dates only to 2005.  The LIV has four teams in the state of Veracruz and two in Chiapas.  Unlike the independent Mexican Pacific League, all LIV teams are affiliated with Mexican League franchises.  The 30-game regular season opens December 1 and closes January 3, followed by two best-of-five semifinal series and a best-of-seven Championship series with Game 7 (if needed) scheduled for January 20.

The postseason winner will advance to the Latin American Series against fellow winter league champions from Colombia, Panama and host Nicaragua, with games slated in Managua between January 28 and February 2.  Colombia's Monterio Leones are the defending champions after defeating the Urraca Indios of Panama, 1-0, in the title game.  Los Tuxtlas has represented Mexico in all three Serie Latinoamericas, winning the inaugural event at Veracruz in 2013.  Xalapa will serve as host in 2017.