Sunday, January 31, 2016

Acayucan eliminated from Latin American Series

The Acayucan Tobis are done in Nicaragua.  After finishing the three-game opening round robin with a 1-2 record, the Veracruz Winter League champion Tobis lost to Colombia's Barranquila Caimanes, 1-0, in a tiebreaker for third place at the Latin American Series in Managua's Dennis Martinez National Stadium.

For the second day in a row, the Tobis found themselves on the short end of a pitcher's duel.  This time, Caimanes starter Ronald Ramirez who stymied the Mexican side, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings while giving up just three hits and walking two.  Interestingly, none of the 19 outs Ramirez where strikeouts.  In all, Acayucan could only muster five hits, although the last would add some last-minute drama.

Barranquilla scored the game's only run in the top of the eighth when Gerson Jimenez whacked a double, scooted over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ramirez (batting for himself) and then, after holding on Steve Brown's fly ball for the second out of the frame, came in when Fidel Pena's broken-bat hit off a Jon Sintes landed just beyond the grasp of the Acayucan shortstop.

Trailing by a run, the Tobis made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when ex-MLB outfielder Karim Garcia socked a one-out triple off Caemanes reliever Luis Liria.  Liria then plunked Carlos Pedrosa to give the Tobis runners at the corners with one out, but Pedro Diaz grounded to second for a game-ending double play, also ending Acayucan's chances to keep playing.

Once again a quality start from a Tobis hurler was squandered after longtime LMB pitcher Sergio Lizarraga (pictured) actually outpitched Ramirez, allowing no runs on three hits and a walk while whiffing six Barranquilla batters in as many innings.  Omar Espinosa, who gave up the Jimenez double in the eighth, took the loss. Erick Gonzalves pitched one inning and got the win for Barranquilla.

The Tobis dropped an identical 1-0 contest to the host Rivas Gigantes on Thursday, creating the Friday tiebreaker game which came as a surprise to this writer, who'd seen no games scheduled Friday on the Latin American Series website, which includes regulations stating in the case of a tie for third place (as there was between Acayucan and Barranquilla), the winner of the earlier round-robin match between the two squads would get the nod.  The Tobis opened the LAS last Tuesday with a 9-3 win over the Caimanes.  Go figure.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Venados set roster for Caribbean Series; Mexicali slugger miffed at exclusion

The Mazatlan Venados have loaded up on reinforcements for their 27-man roster in preparation for next week's Caribbean Series in the Dominican Republic, but one player earned attention after NOT being selected to travel to Santo Domingo.

Obregon Yaquis corner infielder C.J. Retherford (pictured) is a former Arizona State star who spent seven years playing MiLB ball in the States, mostly in the White Sox and Dodgers systems, before splitting last summer between Campeche and Tijuana in the Mexican League, batting a combined .271 with 22 homers and 75 RBI's over 108 games.

Retherford then enjoyed a good winter with the Aguilas, hitting .289 with 9 homers and 37 ribbies in 66 regular season contests followed by a .313/3/10 stat line for Mexicali through 16 games of playoff action.  In all, a solid year for the Florida native...just not enough to get the call from Mazatlan manager Juan Jose Pacho.

That drew a response from Retherford, who Solo Beisbol reports as tweeting, "@LMPbeisbol How do you lead your team in hitting, ribbies and homeruns and not get invited to Caribbean Series!"  The 30-year-old was the only Aguilas batter to top .300 in a pitching-dominated postseason in which the six playoff teams combined to bat .239, with Los Mochis' .251 mark topping the list.

Instead, says Solo Beisbol, Pacho picked fellow infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, a former MLB infielder who turns 34 Sunday, as one of six Mexicali players added to the Venados roster, joining shortstop Ramon Urias, outfielder Chris Roberson, catcher Luis Juarez and relievers Esmailin Cardidad and Jake Sanchez.  In all, 13 of Mazatlan's 27-man roster will be reinforcements:

PITCHERS (14): Arturo Barradas, Jesus Barraza, Esmailin Caridad (MXI), Roberto Espinosa, Hector Galvan (HMO),  Eddie Gamboa (NAV), Steven Hensley, Arturo Lopez (OBR), Jovany Lopez, Terance Marin (JAL), Hector Rodriguez (CUL), Jake Sanchez (MXI), Alejandro Soto, Sergio Valezuela.
CATCHERS (3): Luis Juarez (MXI), Erick Rodriguez, Sebastian Valle (MOC).
INFIELDERS (6): Yuniesky Betancourt (MXI), Cyle Hankerd, Paul Leon, Esteban Quiroz, Ramon Urias (MXI), Jorge Vazquez (CUL).
OUTFIELDERS (4): Justin Greene (OBR), Jeremias Pineda, Chris Roberson (MXI), Olmo Rosario.

The Venados will open their tenth Caribbean Series appearance Monday, February 1 at 7PM Eastern Time in Santo Domingo when they take on the host Escogido Leones in the nightcap game.  Venezuela's Aragua Tigres will take on the Puerto Rican champion Santurce Cangrejeros, who clinched the Roberto Clemente League championship series Friday night with a 2-0 win over Mayaguez to win their title series in six games.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tobis lose 1-0, drop to 1-and-2 at Latin American Series

The Veracruz Winter League pennant-winning Acayucan Tobis lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Nicaraguan host Rivas Thursday night to wrap up their Latin American Series first round with a 1-2 record, tied for third with Colombia's Barranquilla Caemanes. According to tournament regulations, the Tobis advance to Saturday's semifinal game by virtue of their series-opening 9-3 win over the Caemanes on Tuesday.

For the second day in a row, Acayucan wasted a great pitching performance as Jorge Luis Ibarra put in seven shutout innings of mound work, allowing six hits and striking out four.  Likewise, The Gigantes benefitted from a solid start as Jonathan Aristill went six scoreless innings and striking out five while giving up five hits.

The scoreless draw was broken up in the bottom of the eighth when Rivas pinch-hitter Darrel Campbell (pictured) manufactured a run by singling off Tobis reliever Jose Luis Perez, moving to second on Ivan Marin's sacrifice bunt, stealing third and coming in on Ofilio Castro's groundout in what proved to be the only score Rivas needed as the Tobis went scoreless against Gigantes closer Jose Saenz in the top of the ninth to end the contest.

Acayucan finished with six hits on the night as DH Carlos Pedroso picked up a double and a pair of singles.  Jimmy Gonzalez and former Mexican League star and Dutch WBC player Yurendell de Caster each had two hits for the Gigantes.

Rivas finished the round-robin stage with a 2-1 record to tie for first with the Panama City Nacionals, who lost 4-1 to Colombian champions Barranquilla Friday. Panama City earns the top seed and a free pass to Sunday's title game by beating the Gigantes earlier in the week.  After an open date Friday, Rivas and Acayucan will meet again Saturday at Dennis Martinez National Stadium in Managua after playing Thursday night in Rivas' home ballpark because the Managua facility was unavailable.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tobis stumble in 8th, lose 4-2 to Panama City in LAS

Juan Grijalva (pictured) gave the Acayucan Tobis a masterful seven-plus innings of pitching, but a four-run eighth inning for the Panama City Nacionals broke open a scoreless game as the Nacionals went on to beat the Tobis, 4-2, Wednesday at the Latin American Series in Managua, Nicaragua.

Grijalva and Nacionals starter Eliecer Navarro locked into a classic pitcher's duel as the game remained scoreless through seven frames, but after serving up a one-out Jorge Bishop double in the eighth, Grijalva was pulled in favor of former MLB hurler Manny Corpas (ironically a Pamananian).  Corpas gave up a single to Javier Dominguez that brought Bishop in with the first run of the contest, then walked Rodrigo Vigil and got Jean Carlos Rodriguez to hit a grounder that became the second out of the inning when Dominguez was forced out at third.  Rodrigo Orozco then singled to center field to bring in Vigil while an error on the play allowed Rodriguez to come in all the way from first with the third run of the inning.  Edward Thomas then singled in Orozco to make it a 4-0 game before the inning mercifully ended.

Acayucan came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth, one on a Karim Garcia solo homer and the other on Jose Castaneda's RBI single, but Panama reliever Franquelis Osorio struck out Pedro Diaz to end the inning and the Tobis rally.  Osorio then pitched a scoreless ninth to nail down the win for the Nacionals.

Despite a superb outing in which he scattered three hits and charged with one run allowed while striking out six in 7.1 innings, Grijalva was saddled with the loss for the Tobis.  Navarro was even better for Panama, going seven shutout stanzas and giving up just two hits and one walk in picking up the win.  Osorio earned the save with 1.1 scoreless innings and three strikeouts.

With the win, Panama City went to 2-0 to clinch at least a berth in Saturday's semifinal with the possibility of a semi bye and a slot in Sunday's LAS championship game.  The Tobis are now tied with the Nicaraguan host Rivas Gigantes for second with 1-1 marks while Colombia's Barranquilla Caimanes bring up the rear at 0-2 after Rivas topped Colombian champ Barranquilla, 4-1, in Wednesday's nightcap.

Acayucan will wrap up their first stage schedule tonight when the Veracruz Winter League champs square off with the host Gigantes at 7:30PM ET in Rivas, as the LAS makes a preplanned one-day shift of venues before returning to Managua's Dennis Martinez National Baseball Stadium Saturday and Sunday.  Panama City and Barranquilla meet in the day's first game.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tobis open Latin American Series with 9-3 win over Colombian champs

It was a good day for veteran ballplayers Tuesday as pitcher Jasiel Acosta (pictured) turned in a good start and Pedro Diaz went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead the Veracruz Winter League champion Acayucan Tobis to a 9-3 clobbering of Colombia's Barranquilla Caimanes in the opening game of the 2017 Latin America Series in Managua, Nicaragua.

The Colombian League champions took an early 1-0 lead when Efraim Contreras scored on a single to right field by Adrian Sanchez in the bottom of the first, but Acayucan broke through with two scores in the top of fourth when Cuban product Joan Carlos Pedroso came in on a Sergio Perez sacrifice fly and Diaz scored the go-ahead run on Jose Castaneda's single.  Diaz is a 20-year LMB corner infielder who played in Tabasco last summer.

The Tobis took a 4-1 lead in the sixth as Pedroso plated a run on a Castaneda sacrifice fly while Diaz doubled and later scored on Daniel Sanchez' hit to right, but Barranquilla closed the gap to one with runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh frames.  Acayucan then put the game away with five scores in the top of the ninth, paced by RBI singles from another pair of vets, ex-Padres minor leaguer Adan Velazquez and Christian Zazueta, bringing the count to 9-3.

Acosta, a 33-year-old lefty who's spent the past 15 summers in the Mexican League and was a teammate of Diaz' in Tabasco last year, got the win after putting in 5.2 innings of work against the Caimanes, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk, striking out four.  Randy Consuegra was tagged with the loss for the Caimanes after giving up up two runs on five hits a a pair of free passes over 4.1 innings.  After the game, Mexico's ambassador to Nicaragua, Lic. Miguel Diaz Reynoso, came into the Acayucan locker room to congratulate manager Jose Angel Chavez' team on their win.

The Tobis play their second game Wednesday when they take on the Panamanian League titlist Panama City Nacionals, who scored three times in the top of the tenth to beat the host Rivas Gigantes, 6-3, in Tuesday's nightcap.  Jose Grijalva will get the start for Acayucan, who can clinch a berth in Saturday's semifinal with a win.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tomateros owner, Salon member Ley dies at 82

Longtime Culiacan Tomateros owner Juan Manuel Ley, a Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame member who also once owned the Mexical League's Saltillo Saraperos, has died at the age of 82 in Culiacan. Ley died of an apparent heart attack.

With his father, Ley formed the Tomateros in 1965 and remained the team's owner for over five decades, winning ten Mexican Pacific League pennants in that time along with Caribbean Series titles in 1996 and 2002.  Culiacan also opened a new 20,000-seat ballpark this past season, drawing over 16,000 fans per game to outrank every affiliated minor league franchise in North America in attendance average.  The Tomateros will also host the 2017 Caribbean Series next February.

Ley owned the LMB Saraperos from 1999 until he sold the club in 2013, by which time he had overseen renovations of the 17,500-seat Estadio Francisco I. Madero, the launching of broadcasts of all Saraperos home games on Canal 7 and the building of the 2009 and 2010 Mexican League championship squads.  Ley was elected to the Salon de la Fama in 1996, three years before he bought the Saltillo team and demonstrating his influence on Mexican baseball from his west coast headquarters.

The son of a Chinese immigrant who came to Mexico in 1910, Juan Manuel Ley was born in Durango in 1933.  He inherited his father's Casa Ley supermarket chain and built it into Mexico's largest privately-owned string of grocery stores, with over 150 stores and 22,000 employees throughout ten states in Western Mexico.  USA-based Safeway now owns 49 percent of Casa Ley, which was founded in Culiacan in 1954 by Juan Ley Fong, Juan's father.  Nicknamed "Chino" for his ethnic heritage, the younger Ley was ranked 29th among Mexico's 100 most important businessmen in a 2014 story by Expansion magazine.

A funeral mass was held for Ley last Saturday in Culiacan.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mazatlan pulls out 10-inning win, cops MexPac pennant

Cyle Hankerd (pictured) stroked a run-scoring single in the bottom of the tenth inning Monday to give the Mazatlan Venados a 4-3 walkoff win over the Mexicali Aguilas, clinching the Mexican Pacific League championship series, 4 games to 1.  Manager Juan Jose Pacho's team will represent Mexico in next week's Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In the top of the first, Mexicali leadoff hitter Chris Roberson needed just two pitches into the game to end the Aguilas' 20-inning scoreless streak by socking an Amilcar Gaxiola offering over the left field wall, a feat repeated later in the frame by C.J. Retherford to give Mexicali an early 2-0 lead.

The Venados got one run back in the bottom of the second when Hankerd repurposed a Javier Solano pitch into a solo homer to left center; Mazatlan then scored twice in the fourth to take the lead on Paul Leon's two-out triple to center that brought in Agustin Murillo and Erick Rodriguez.

The Aguilas pulled even in the top of the sixth when Ramon Urias beat out a bunt for a single, drawing an errant throw from Mazatlan third sacker Agustin Murillo that went sailing toward the right field corner and allowed Urias to advance all the way to third.  A Luis Suarez single to left scored Urias, making it a 3-3 ballgame.  The two teams then swapped zeroes from the bottom of the sixth until the fateful tenth.

After Paul Leon and Jeremias Pineda both struck out to open the bottom of the entrada, Justin Greene got on board when Urias couldn't find the handle on his grounder to short.  Greene then stole second, leading to Aguilas reliever Manuel Chavez' intentional walk of Esteban Quiroz to set up a force at any base.  Esmailin Caridad was brought in to face Hankerd, who worked the count to 2-2 before lining a single into left field.  The speedy Greene was waved in from second to home, where he beat Welington Dotel's throw to end the game and the series.

Steven Hensley pitched the ninth and tenth for the Venados and earned the win.  Chavez took the loss for Mexicali.  Hankerd finished with two hits, as did Aguilas catcher Francisco Cordoba. Mazatlan won their ninth MexPac pennant (and their first since 2009) despite losing a first round series to Navojoa in six games.  They got the nod as the "lucky loser" wildcard team and went on to top Obregon in seven games in the semis and vanquishing Mexicali in five games for the flag.  The Aguilas had the best regular season record in the LMP and won the first game of this series until the Venados won the next four.

Mazatlan will open the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo next Monday when they take on defending Cuban National Series champion Ciego de Avila at 7:50PM local time.

MAZATLAN 4-8-2, Mexicali 3-7-1 (10)
W-Hensley (1-0).  L-Chavez (0-1).  T-3:32.  A-15,550.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mazatlan posts second straight shutout; one win from MexPac flag

Ageless Walter Silva (pictured) turned in another quality start and Paul Leon had two hits, including an RBI double, as the Mazatlan Venados registered their second consecutive shutout over the Mexicali Aguilas, 2-0, Sunday to take a commanding 3-games-to-1 lead in the Mexican Pacific League championship series.

The two teams swapped zeroes into the fifth inning.  Mazatlan starter Walter Silva tossed four frames of one-hit shutout ball while Mexicali opener Marco Duarte lived dangerously, allowing six hits and a walk through four innings without getting nicked for a run.  Duarte began the bottom of the fifth by walking Erick Rodriguez and giving up a Paul Leon single, leading Aguilas skipper Edgar Gonzalez to bring Manuel Chavez in from the bullpen.  Jeremias Pineda moved Rodriguez and Leon up with a sacrifice bunt and then Justin Greene was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Esteban Quiroz then lifted a sacrifice fly to Alex Liddi in right, bringing Rodriguez in with the game's first run.

The Venados stretched their lead to 2-0 in the sixth when a Leon double to center off Francisco Rodriguez brought pinch-runner Jose Figueroa in from second.  Mazatlan threatened to burst the dam by loading the bases, but Jake Sanchez got Greene to tap the ball back to the mound for an inning-ending toss to first for the out. After that, it was a matter of collecting the final nine Aguilas outs as Jesus Barraza, Sergio Valenzuela and Steven Hensley combined to throw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, with Hensley inducing Yuniesky Betancourt into flying out to Pinedas in right to end the game.

Leon's two hits led Mazatlan.  Four different players had hits for Mexicali, with Ramon Urias and Jon Del Campo contributing doubles, but the Aguilas had a second straight bad night in the clutch by going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position as Mexicali's scoreless streak hit 20 innings.  Although Silva spun those sparkling front four frames, Jesus Sanchez pitched a scoreless fifth and earned the win.  Hensley picked up his sixth postseason save.  Duarte suffered the loss for Mexicali.

Game Four is scheduled for Monday in Mazatlan.  Javier Solano is the expected starter for Mexicali while manager Juan Jose Pacho will send out Amilcar Gaxiola.

MAZATLAN 2-9-1, Mexicali 0-4-0
W-J. Sanchez (1-0).  L-Duarte (1-2).  T-3:14.  A-14,950.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Run holds through nine as Venados win Game Three

The Mazatlan Venados pushed one run across the plate in the bottom of the first inning and made it stand through the rest of their 1-0 shutout of the Mexicali Aguilas in Game Three of the Mexican Pacific League championship series.  The Venados took a 2-games-to-1 lead in the set with the win, which took just two hours, 21 minutes to complete.

After Mazatlan starter Andres Meza (pictured) blanked Mexicali in the top of the first inning, Jeremias Pineda led off the bottom of the frame for the Venados with a liner up the middle into center field.  After advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Greene, Pineda sped in to score on Agustin Murillo's seeing-eye single over second base.  On the play, Aguilas centerfielder Chris Roberson threw a strike to first baseman C.J. Retherford after Murillo rounded first toward second, and Retherford threw the ball to shortstop Ramon Urias, who applied the tag for the out, but the damage was done.

Meza then trotted out to the mound for the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, retiring nine batsmen in a row at one point before allowing consecutive singles to Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Liddi in the fourth (the only two hits he gave up) before retiring Roberson to end the inning followed by a 1-2-3 fifth before calling it a night.  Meza struck out five Aguilas batters and walked none, throwing 38 of his 50 pitches for strikes en route to his third playoff win.

Mexicali made one last-ditch effort in the eighth when Ramon Urias led off with a ground-rule double down the left-field line off Sergio Valenzuela, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Jon Del Campo.  Walter Ibarra then sent a hard-hit grounder in the gap between first and second that would've scored Urias from third, but Mazatlan first sacker Cyle Hankerd made a diving stop to his right, looked Urias back to his base and tagged first to put Ibarra out.  Steven Hensley then came in for Valenzuela and struck out Retherford swinging to end the threat.  Hensley pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth playoff save.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Aguilas, especially starter Hector Daniel Roriguez, who was brilliant in the first complete-game outing in three rounds of postseason play.  Rodriguez went all eight innings on the hill for Mexicali, scattering five hits (none for extra bases), walking none and striking out six while throwing seven scoreless frames after the fateful first.  Pinedas had two of those hits for the Venados.  Liddi had two hits for the Aguilas, who had seven on the night but none when it mattered as Mexicali was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Game Four will be Sunday in Mazatlan.

MAZATLAN 1-5-1, Mexicali 0-7-1
W-A. Meza (3-1).  L-H. Rodriguez (2-1).  T-2:21.  A-15,400.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tobis win LIV crown, berth in Latin American Series

The Acayucan Tobis defeated the Xalapa Chileros, 2-1, Tuesday night to clinch the Veracruz Winter League championship series, 4 games to 1, and punch their ticket to next week's Latin American Series at Dennis Martinez National Stadium in Managua Nicaragua.  This marks the first pennant in the ten-year LIV history of the Tobis, a Tabasco Olmecas farm team, while breaking a string of four straight pennants for the Los Tuxtlas Brujos under manager Pedro Mere.

In Tuesday's deciding game, Jose Castaneda put Acayucan on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning by doubling in Pedro Diaz with the first run of the tilt.  Luis Fonseca tied it up at 1-1 by belting a solo homer for Xalapa in the bottom of the fourth.  The teams then swapped zeroes until Castenda cracked a bases-empty homer of his own in the top of the ninth off Chileros reliever Jon Sintes to put the Tobis on top, 2-1.  Raul Barron then tossed a scoreless ninth for Acayucan for the win and the flag.

Veteran Cristhian Presichi, who homered for Mexico against Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, won the LIV regular season batting title with a .420 average for the first-place Paso de Ovejas Campesinos, who finished with a 19-10-1 record (two games up on Acayucan's 15-10-1 mark) while Tuxtla Gutierrez' Carlos Rodriguez tied for the league lead with 7 homers and led the circuit with 32 RBI's.  Campesinos hurler Angel Araiza and the Tobis' Juan Grijalva topped the loop with 4 wins each, Los Tuxtlas' Joel Payamps turned in an 0.82 ERA and Raul Carrillo of Palenque posted 39 strikeouts.

The fourth Latin American Series will open in Managua on Tuesday, January 26 at 1:30PM local time when Acayucan faces either the Lorica Caimanes or Monteria Leones, who are locked up in the Colombian League title series (the Caimanes lead, 3 games to 1).  Nicaraguan host Rivas Gigantes will take on the Panamanian champs in the nightcap.  The Panama Nacionales lead the Metrolotican Aguilas, 2 games to 1, in their best-of-five battle for that berth.

The four teams will play a three-day, six-game round robin next Tuesday through Thursday.  After a day off on Friday, January 29, the second and third seeds will play a semifinal game on the 30th for the right to play the top seed Sunday the 31st for the Serie Latinoamericana crown.  Colombia's Monteria Leones the defending champion. The 2017 event will be held in Xalapa.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Venados hold off Mexicali, LMP title set tied at 1-1

After being waxed by an 8-1 score in Wednesday's Mexican Pacific League championship series opener, the Mazatlan Venados came back with solid pitching and some opportunistic hitting to win, 4-2, in Mexicali Thursday before another sellout crowd of 17,000 at La Nida.  Mazatlan's win levels the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

Mexicali scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first when a Yuniesky Betancourt (pictured) triple to straightaway center field drove in Chris Roberson from third.  Roberson had led off the game with a single, advanced to second on a Ramon Urias sacrifice bunt and stole third before Betancourt's three-bagger.

After being shut out by Terance Marin over the first three innings, the Venados planted three on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth as Agustin Murillo and Olmo Rosario chipped in with RBI singles. Mazatlan made it a 4-1 contest with one out in the fifth when Justin Greene singled and then sped all the way in on Esteban Quiroz' double to right off Marin, who was then pulled by Mexicali skipper Edgar Gonzalez.

Mexicali's Welington "Duke" Dotel manufactured a run in the bottom of the seventh when he stroked a pinch-hit double up the middle off Jesus Barraza that drew a throwing error from Greene in center, allowing Dotel to scamper to third.  The 30-year-old Dominican then scored on a Luis Juarez sac fly to right to bring the score to 4-2, but that would be it for the night as Venados closer Steven Hensley pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save and the Mazatlan win.

Alejandro Soto pitched five innings of one-run ball for Mazatlan, giving up four hits, walking one batter and striking out two.  In 4.1 frames for the Aguilas, Marin let in four Venados scores, but only one was earned as the righty's postseason stretch of hard luck continues.  Mazatlan finished the night with six hits, two by Murillo, while Roberson had two of Mexicali's five hits.

The two teams travel south to Mazatlan for Game Three of the series on Saturday night at 8PM local time.

Mazatlan Venados 4-7-2, MEXICALI AGUILAS 4-5-1
W-Soto (2-1).  L-Marin (0-2).  T-3:11.  A-17,000.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Aguilas pound Mazatlan, win Game 1 of LMP title set

The Mexicali Aguilas drew first blood in the Mexican Pacific League championship series by clobbering the Mazatlan Venados, 8-1, Wednesday to win Game One as 17,000 fans looked on at Mexicali's Estadio B-Air.

The Venados led early when reinforcement outfielder Justin Greene singled up the middle, then roared around the bases to score on Esteban Quiroz' double past Mexicali left fielder Ricky Alvarez in the top of the first inning. Alvarez (pictured) struck back when the former Angels minor leaguer walloped a three-run homer over the left field wall off Mazatlan starter Amilcar Gaxiola in the bottom of the second, plating Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Liddi to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead. Mexicali added a run in the fourth on Luis Juarez' leadoff homer, then put the game away with another four counters in the sixth, keyed by Xorge Carrillo's RBI double and run-scoring singles by Walter Ibarra and C.J. Retherford, to go up by an 8-1 count.

Javier Solano pitched 5.1 innings for Mexicali, letting in two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in getting the win. Gaxiola was tagged for the loss after getting cuffed around for five runs in five-plus innings. Retherford, Juarez and Ibarra finished with two hits each for the Aguilas while Greene singled twice for the Deer, who only picked up four more safeties over their final eight scoreless innings off Solano and four relievers.

Game Two will be Thursday night at 7:30 in Mexicali.

MEXICALI 8-11-0, Mexicali 1-6-3
W-Solano (1-0).  L-Gaxiola (0-1).  T-3:10 (20 min. delay).  A-17,000.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Venados, Aguilas add players; Liddi drafted (again)

The Mazatlan Venados and Mexicali Aguilas held a brief draft to chose so-called "reinforcement" players for their upcoming Mexican Pacific League championship series.  The winner will represent Mexico at next month's Caribbean Series in the Dominican Republic.

The two remaining teams chose a pair of players apiece, as happened both after the regular season and at the end of the first round of playoffs.  Former Mariners infielder Alex Liddi (pictured) was chosen for a second time this postseason.  After spending the regular season in Guadalajara with the non-qualifying Jalisco Charros, Liddi was picked by Obregon and played two rounds for the Yaquis, batting .319 with 3 homers and 13 RBI's in 11 games.  Liddi is now one of two players selected Tuesday by Mexicali.  The other is right-handed starting pitcher Eddie Gamboa, who was 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts for Navojoa while walking just four batters in 26 innings.

Mazatlan picked a pair of outfielders, Obregon's Justin Greene and Navojoa's Quincy Latimore.  Greene leads all LMP playoff batters playing ten or more games with a .396 average over 11 games for the Yaquis and is tied with Venados outfielder Jeremias Pineda for most postseason stolen bases with 6.  Latimore has been quiet in the second season thus far, hitting just .240 with 4 RBI's in 13 games, but the Orioles farmhand had a good regular season for the Mayos with a .292 average, 10 homers and 45 ribbies in 68 contests.  Greene and Latimore will both add pop and speed to join Pineda in forming a vastly upgraded outfield.

The MexPac championship series will open Wednesday night at 7:30 local time in Mexicali, where the Aguilas will host the Venados for the first two games before the teams shift to Mazatlan for Game Three on Saturday night at 8PM.

Monday, January 18, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: MON, Jan. 18. 2016

The Mexican Pacific League's 2016 championship series is set after a pair of tight games decided the semifinals Monday night, with a pair of Mexican baseball veterans playing lead roles.

Mazatlan held off Obregon, 2-1, behind the pitching of 39-year-old Walter Silva while Navojoa and Mexicali carried their 3-3 tilt through six hours and 16 innings until 36-year-old Chris Roberson (pictured) crossed the plate on a disputed tag play to send the Aguilas to the title set against the Venados. The visiting team had won all encounters in both seven-game semifinal series before Mexicali's win.

The championship series will begin Wednesday night in Mexicali.

MEXICALI 4-12-1, Navojoa 3-10-1 (16)  
W-Lozoya (1-0).  L-T. Solis (1-1).  T-6:02.  A-17,000.

The two teams played past 1:30 in the morning until the score was finally settled in the bottom of the sixteenth inning when Roberson lined a one-out single into left field, moved from first two third on a Yuniesky Betancourt single, then scored the winning run when C.J. Retherford tapped a sacrifice bunt that dribbled down the first-base line.  Mayos first baseman Jesse Castillo tagged Retherford out before throwing to catcher Fernando Flores, who put the tag on the incoming Roberson.  Home plate umpire Jaime Gutierrez ruled Roberson safe with the game-winning run, which drew a protest from Navojoa manager Enrique "Che" Reyes.  Video replays were determined to uphold the call on the field, ending the six-hour marathon and sending the Aguilas to the final series.

Jose Amador opened the scoring for Navojoa by driving in Carlos Moncrief with a two-out double in the bottom of the first inning.  The Aguilas evened things up in the bottom of the entrada when Roberson singled, stole second and scored on Betancourt's single to left field.  Navojoa regained the lead in the third on a Quincy Latimore sacrifice fly that brought Moncrief in from third and it became a 3-1 Mayos advantage in the fifth as Nate Tenbrink scored on Jesse Castillo's sac fly.

Mexicali leveled the score in the sixth after Retherford was plunked by an Eddie Gamboa pitched when Luis Juarez then launched a 2-and-1 Gamboa pitch over the center field wall to bring the score to 3-3.  Then it was an exchange of zeroes for both sides into the sixteenth.

Tomas Solis, ordinarily a starter, was pressed into late duty and ended up taking the loss even though he'd been replaced by Ruddy Acosta when Roberson charged in from third.  Yair Lozoyo pitched two scoreless innings to get the win for the Aguilas.
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Mazatlan 2-12-1, OBREGON 1-4-0
W-Silva (1-1).  L-D. Reyes (1-1).  T-2:58.  A-14,517.

Veteran pitcher Walter Silva and three relievers combined to carry a three-hit shutout two hits into the ninth inning as Mazatlan defeated Obregon, 2-1, to win Game Seven of their LMP semifinal series in a set in which the visiting team won every game.

The Venados scored twice in the top of the second inning when Jesus Fabela and Jeremias Pineda hit RBI singles off Yaquis starter David Reyes, giving Silva all the support he'd need. The right-hander, who turned 39 on January 4, gave up singles to Daniel Castro and Carlos Valencia over 6.2 innings of work, striking out five and walking none.  Of Silva's 97 pitches, 61 were for strikes.  

Closer Steven Hensley allowed a two-out solo homer to Obregon's Alex Liddi to spoil the whitewash bid, but then induced dangerous Dustin Martin to tap a comebacker to the mound that Hensley tossed to Cyle Hankerd at first for the final out of the series.  It was a tough night for the Yaquis, who only advanced one baserunner as far as second base before Liddi's longball broke their scoreless spell.

Fabela, Esteban Quiroz and Erick Rodriguez each had two of Mazatlan's 12 hits on the night as Reyes lasted just two innings, giving up six safeties and both Mazatlan runs.  The Yaquis bullpen did a splendid job over the game's final seven frames, butthe cavalry didn't make it to the plate until the battle was all but done.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: SUN, Jan. 17, 2016

Both the Navojoa Mayos and Mazatlan Veados won their Mexican Pacific League semifinal road games Sunday, forcing Game Sevens on Monday in Mexicali and Obregon. Navojoa overcame their own anemic offense with ten innings of shutout pitching and an opportunistic last frame in their overtime victory over the Aguilas while the Venados offense lit up Yaquis pitcher for 14 hits in their tilt.

Following Monday's games, the winning teams will take a two-day breather before opening the MexPac championship series Thursday.

Navojoa 1-4-0, MEXICALI 0-7-1 (10)
W-Moskos (1-0).  L-M. Lara (0-1).  T-2:53.  A-17,000.

After Friday night's comedy of errors, the Navojoa Mayos pulled it together Sunday with an error-free 1-0 win in ten innings at Mexicali in front of 17,000 spectators at La Nida to tie their series at three games apiece, setting up Monday's Game Seven.

Starters Hector Velazquez of Navojoa and Hector Daniel Rodriguez of the Aguilas locked into a pitcher's duel, as Velazquez allowed two hits and struck out seven Mexicali batsmen and walking none over seven innings on the mound while Rodriguez scattered three singles and one walk in 6.1 frames, whiffing eight.  Both bullpens came through as three Navojoa relievers combined for three scoreless innings and four more Aguilas hurlers went 3.2 frames and allowed one Mayos hit, but that safety ended up being the game's difference-maker.

Navojoa first baseman Jesus "Jesse" Castillo (pictured) led off the tenth by rapping a single to right field off Mauricio Lara, then advanced to second when Lara made a bad throw on Jose Guadalupe Chavez' sacrifice bunt back to the mound.  Nate Tenbrink followed Chavez with another bunt to the hill, but Lara was able to nip him at first while both runners advanced.  The call was disputed by Navojoa skipper Enrique "Che" Reyes, but replays upheld it.  Jose Manuel Lopez was brought in to pitch to pinch-hitter Fernando Flores, who lofted a fly ball to centerfielder Chris Roberson.  The 36-year-old Californian made the catch, but Castillo beat the throw to the plate to score the first and only run of the contest.  Mayos closer Daniel Moskos let up two singles in the bottom of the tenth before inducing Luis Juarez to hit into a 5-3 game-ending double play.

Eddie Gamboa will pitch for Navojoa in Monday's Game Seven.  Mexicali manager Edgar Gonzalez did not name his starter as of press time.  Marco Duarte started against Gamboa in Game Three for the Eagles but gave up four runs on two hits and three walks in 3.1 innings in a 6-3 losing effort.
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Mazatlan 6-14-0, OBREGON 3-7-2
W-A. Meza (2-1).  L-R. Valdez (1-2).  T-3:33.  A-15,133.

The Mazatlan Venados built themselves a 5-0 by the fifth inning and went on to down the Obregon Yaquis, 6-3, Sunday at a jam-packed Estadio Tomas Oroz Gaytan, leveling their MexPac semifinal series at three games each.

Mazatlan's Cyle Hankerd opened the scoring in the top of the fourth by singling in Agustin Murillo, then came in himself on Olmo Rosario's single to right, barely beating Dustin Martin's throw to the plate.  The call was disputed but upheld by replay officials.  The Venados plated three more runs in the fifth, two scoring on Esteban Quiroz' line-drive double to straightaway center field.  The Yaquis finally broke through with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh, but never came closer than two runs.

Mazatlan collected 14 hits for the game, including three for Rosario and two each for Hankerd, Murillo, Jeremias Pineda, Carlos Munoz and Paul Leon.  Rosario and Quiroz each drove in two runs. Yaquis second baseman Carlos Valencia jacked his fifth postseason homer in the fifth off Venados starter Andres Meza, who got the win after letting in all three Yaquis runs in 5.2 innings.  Justin Green went 2-for-4 for Obregon to raise his postseason batting average to .429 while Martin chipped in two singles.  Yaquis starter Rolando Valdez was ripped for eight hits and five runs before being yanked with one out in the fifth and took the loss.

Game Seven will be Monday night in Obregon.  Venerable Walter Silva will be on the mound for Mazatlan while the Yaquis will send David Reyes to the hill.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MLB to stage "Mexico City Series" in March

Major League Baseball will return to Mexico City for the first time in twelve springs when the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres play exhibition games March 26 and 27 at Estadio Fray Nano.

The series will be the third time the Padres have played in Mexico City after previous visits in 1971 and 1981.  The Southern California club has also had exhibition games in Tijuana and Hermosillo with two trips to Culiacan, and hosted a three-game regular season series with the New York Mets in 1996 in Monterrey, where they also opened the 1999 schedule against the Colorado Rockies at Estadio Monterrey.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was born and raised in Mexico City.  "I'm thrilled that the Astros will have the opportunity to play in Mexico," Luhnow says.  "The Mexican people have a great love for baseball, so I know these games will be well-received."  Luhnow was joined at a press conference by Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.  The two-game set between Houston and San Diego is being billed as the "Mexico City Series."  Both teams will send split squads due to concurrent spring training games in the States.

Estadio Fray Nano is home to the Mexico City Diablos Rojos.  MLB's last appearance in the Mexican capital was in 2004 when the Astros played two games with the Marlins at Foro Sol, which could hold 25,000 for baseball but was designed more for concerts and never a comfortable fit for baseball.  At 5,000 seats, Fray Nano is much smaller than Foro Sol, but much more hospitable to the King of Sports.  The Red Devils played at Foro Sol from 2000 through 2014 after longtime home Social Security Park was razed to make way for a shopping center.  A new Estadio Diablos Rojos, with seating for 13,000 plus an outfield grass berm holding 3,000 more, is targeted for a 2017 opening.

One MLB preseason game was played in Mexico last year when the Arizona Diamondbacks met Colorado on March 29 in Hermosillo.

Friday, January 15, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: FRI, Jan. 15, 2016

Obregon and Mazatlan went deep into extra innings in a pitchers' duel in one Game Five in the Mexican Pacific League semifinals Friday night, while Mexicali took advantage of Navojoa's penchant for self-destruction with three unearned runs in a crazy 4-3 Aguilas win on the Mayos' home turf in the other Final Four battle.

MAZATLAN 3-9-1, Obregon 2-7-1 (13)
W-R. Espinosa (1-0).  L-M. Carrillo (1-1).  T-4:36.  A-9,897.
Spectators at Mazatlan's Estadio Teodoro Mariscal had another thriller as the Venados and visiting Obregon took a 2-2 ballgame into the 13th inning before a wild pitch gave Mazatlan a 3-2 win. The Yaquis drew first blood in the top of the first inning when Justin Greene came in from third on Max Ramirez' sacrifice fly to right field, giving Obregon a 1-0 lead. The score stood until the bottom of the sixth, when Mazatlan pinch-hitter Carlos Munoz stroked a two-out, two-run single off Obregon starter Arturo Lopez to give the Venados a 2-1 advantage. The Yaquis came right back in the top of the seventh when Daniel Castro drilled a double off Mazatlan reliever Kenneth Sigman to plate Alfredo Amezaga with the game-tying run. And that's where the scoring stopped until the bottom of the 13th.
Olmo Rosario popped a leadoff single for the Venados, then moved to second on Munoz' sacrifice bunt. Obregon reliever Marco Carrillo intentionally walked Paul Leon (pictured) to get to Jose Felix, who then singled to left. Rosario rounded third but was cut down at the plate on a throw from Leo Heras while Leon advanced to third. Then, with a 1-and-2 count on Jesus Fabela, Carrillo uncorked a wild pitch that brought Leon streaking home with the game-winner.
Regular season ERA champ Alejandro Soto was merely terrific for Mazatlan, pitching six innings and allowing one run on three hits while throwing strikes on 64 of 92 pitches, good for seven strikeouts.  Five Venados relievers combined to hold Obregon scoreless over the final six innings, with Roberto Espinosa getting the win. Lopez went 5.2 frames for the Yaquis, letting in two counters on four hits. Nine men trotted out from the Obregon bullpen to hold Mazatlan scoreless from the sixth inning until the final pitch seven innings later.  Rosario and Cyle Hankerd each had two hits for Mazatlan while Greene and Amezaga both had two for Obregon, but this was a pitcher's night right up until the end. Despite losing the heartbreaker, the Yaquis still lead the semi series, 3 games to 2.  Game Six is Sunday in Obregon.

Mexicali 4-9-1, NAVOJOA 3-5-2
W-J. Sanchez (1-0).  L-Bustamante (0-2).  T-3:04.  A-10,982.
Navojoa took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning before imploding in the eighth inning as Mexicali scored a 4-3 road win Friday night in front of 10,982 horrified onlookers at Estadio Manuel "Ciclon" Echeverria.
After Mexicali starter Javier Solano battled Navojoa's Jose Oyervides over four scoreless innings, the Aguilas scored a run in the top of the fifth when Xorge Carrillo doubled and later came home when Mayos shortstop Jose Guadalupe Chavez coudn't find the handle on a Rickey Alvarez grounder in what was to prove a foretelling moment. Navojoa put up three on the board in the bottom of the frame as Fernando Flores smoked a two-run double and scored when Solano threw away a Diego Madera bunt, putting the Mayos up by two. Mexicali drew a run closer in the top of the sixth when C.J. Retherford's pop single just beyond Chavez' grasp at short sent Chris Roberson in to score, cutting Navojoa's lead to 3-2. After the teams swapped some zeros through the seventh, things got ugly.
Mexicali tied the game in the top of the eighth when Mayos third baseman Nate Tenbrink made a bad throw on a Welington Dotel grounder to bring in Roberson from third, then reliever Carlos Bustamante served up a wild pitch to Luis Juarez, allowing Yuniesky Bentacourt to plate the go-ahead run. The Mayos had two innings to make amends but couldn't advance anyone past second before time ran out.
Jake Sanchez pitched a scoreless seventh and got the win for Mexicali while Bustamante was tagged with the loss. Betancourt had three hits and a run for the Aguilas while Carlos Moncrief singled, doubled and scored for the Mayos. Mexicali now leads the series, 3 games to 2, as the two teams head north to the border for Sunday's Game Six.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: THU, Jan. 14, 2016

Fans were treated to two close games Thursday night in Mexican Pacific League semifinal action, with attendees at Mazatlan's Estadio Teodoro Mariscal getting a bonus of heart-stopping, run-scoring plays in the ninth AND tenth innings as Carlos Valencia (pictured for the second day in a row, a BBM first) continued to swing a heroic bat for the Obregon Yaquis, although not in his expected fashion of late. The Navojoa-Mexicali was another knucklebiter, just not quite as dramatic.

Obregon 5-8-1, MAZATLAN 4-9-2 (10)
W-Judy (1-0).  L-S. Valenzuela (0-1).  T-3:36.  A-7,849.
This may have been the wildest game of the 2016 playoffs thus far, as one infield error lifted Mazatlan into a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the contest into overtime and  another infield error pushed the winning run across the plate for Obregon in the top of the tenth. This was not a textbook win for the Yaquis but it did put them in the driver's seat of their series with the Venados.
With Obregon leading, 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth, Mazatlan's Esteban Quiroz lined to third baseman Alfredo Amezaga for the second out, but Amezaga's throw to double up baserunner Jeremias Pineda at first instead sailed into right field and Paul Leon motored in from third with the tying run.  In the top of the tenth, Venados first baseman Cyle Hankerd misplayed a two-out Carlos Valenica grounder, allowing Alex Liddi to come steaming in from third for the Yaquis. Closer Josh Judy pitched a 1-2-3 tenth to nail down the win for Obregon.
Justin Greene had three hits for the Yaquis while Olmo Rosario had a trio of singles for the Venados, who now trail Obregon, 3 games to 1.  Game Five is Friday in Mazatlan.  The Venados will start 2015-16 ERA champ Alejandro Soto while Arturo Lopez gets the nod for Obregon.

NAVOJOA 3-7-1, Mexicali 2-9-0
W-Solis (1-0).  L-Marin (0-1).  T-3:11.  A-9,681.
Jesus Castillo bashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and that was all the Mayos would need for the win.  Mexicali put the first two runs of the game on the board in the second when Chris Roberson doubled in Yuniesky Betancourt with the game's first run; Roberson then came in on an error by Navojoa second baseman Carlos Orrantia.  Quincy Latimore and Carlos Moncrief were on base two innings later when Castillo went deep on Aguilas pitcher Terance Marin, who'd been working on a shutout before being rudely interrupted.
Marin had an otherwise flawless outing over six innings, small solace to a hurler who's been dogged by hard luck during the postseason and was tagged for the loss.  Tomas Solis earned the win with a good start for the Mayos, letting in one earned run over five frames of work.
The series is now tied at two games apiece.  Game Five is Friday night in Navojoa, when the Mayos send Juan Oyervides to the mound against the Aguilas and Javier Solano in what looks to be a great matchup.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: WED, Jan. 13, 2016

The Navojoa Mayos broke through for their first win in their Mexican Pacific League semifinal series with Mexicali, topping the Aguilas 6-3 Wednesday night behind the arm of Eddie Gamboa and the bats of Jesus Castillo an Jose Amador.  The Mayos dropped the first two games of the set in Mexicali Sunday and Monday.  Meanwhile, Obregon took a 4-2 win in Mazatlan to take a 2 to 1 lead in their series as Carlos Valencia (pictured) chopped a run-scoring single and knocked out a solo homer for the Yaquis to continue his playoff hot streak at the plate.

Thursday night will mark Game Four in both series, with the second of three Mayos-Aguilas contests in Navojoa while Obregon is at Mazatlan again.

NAVOJOA 6-8-1, Mexicali 3-8-0
W-Gamboa (1-1).  L-Duarte (1-1).  T-2:51.  A-8,747.
Jesus Castillo hit a two-run bases-loaded single in a three-run fourth inning to help Navojoa top Mexicali, 6-3, Wednesday night at home.  Jose Amador chipped in with a double and solo homer for the Mayos, while pinch-hitter Eliseo Aldazaba cracked a two-run homer to straightway center in the bottom of the seventh.  C.J Retherford homered and added a single for the Aguilas, but it wasn't Mexicali's night.
Eddie Gamboa had another good start for Navojoa in posting his first playoff win, going seven innings and allowing two earned runs.  Marco Duarte, on the other hand, was not long for this world in giving up four runs over 3.1 frames for the Aguilas.  The win was Navojoa's first of the semis after the Mayos dropped the first two contests in Mexicali.

Obregon 4-9-0, MAZATLAN 2-6-1
W-Reyes (1-1).  L-Silva (1-1).  T-3:14.  A-10,178.
Veteran second baseman Carlos Valencia continued his hot postseason at the plate by bopping an RBI single and belting a solo home run to pace Obregon to a 4-2 win at Mazatlan Wednesday.  Valencia now has an LMP-best four homers and 13 RBIs in nine playoff games.  Justin Greene aided the Yaquis cause by going 3-for-4 at the plate to bring his postseason average up to a cool .400  as Obregon took a 2-games-to-1 lead in the series while Alex Liddi had a run-scoring single and later came around to score on Valencia's single in the Yaquis' fateful three-run third inning.  Jeremias Pineda had a productive night at the plate for the Venados with two singles, two RBI's and an stolen base.
David Reyes turned in a good mound outing for Obregon, letting in two runs in six innings with six strikeouts.  Walter Silva took the loss for Mazatlan after coughing up four scores in six frames.

Monday, January 11, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: MON, Jan. 11, 2016

Precious little drama involved in the Mexican Pacific League semifinals Tuesday night as the Mazatlan Venados rang up an 8-4 win in Obregon, thanks in part to two-run homers by Agustin Murillo and Cyle Hankerd, while Mexicali pummeled Navojoa, 10-1, behind a superb performance by lefty Hector Rodriguez (pictured), who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.  Rodriguez spent last summer as a middle reliever in Saltillo after spending two years as a starter in the Braves and Orioles system.

With their win, Mazatlan evened up their series with the Yaquis at a game apiece while Mexicali opened up a 2-0 series lead over the Mayos.  Tuesday will be an off day before play resumes Wednesday night with games in Mazatlan and Navojoa.

Mazatlan 8-14-0, OBREGON 4-7-0
W-Meza (1-1).  L-R. Valdez (1-1).  T-3:20.  A-10,381.
Things started well enough for the Yaquis, who scored twice in the bottom of the first when Max Ramirez doubled in Justin Greene and then scored on Dustin Martin's Texas League single to left to stake Obregon a 2-0 lead.  Mazatlan got one run back in the second when Olmo Rosario's single brought in Yunesky Sanchez, then went ahead in the third as Agustin Murillo scored on a single by Cyle Hankerd, who came around to score two batters later when Mike Jacobs whacked a two-out double. The Venados went up 7-2 in the fourth thanks to a pair of two-run homers by Murillo and Hankerd, and while Justin Greene scored on Alex Liddi's ground-out in the sixth for the Yaquis,  Esteban Quiroz' leadoff homer in the seventh padded the Venados lead and it was just a matter of time from that point, although Carlos Valencia did sock a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the ninth for Obregon.
Andres Meza got the win despite a mediocre start for the Venados, letting in three Obregon runs in 5.2 innings, but Mazatlan's 14-hit outburst might've meant a "W" for a batting tee as Mazatlan devoured servings from the Yaquis' Rolando Valdez for six runs on eight hits in 3.2 frames.

MEXICALI 10-11-0, Navojoa 1-5-2
W-H. Rodriguez (2-0).  L-Jo. Castillo (0-1).  T-2:49.  A-16,465.
With two out and nobody on in the bottom of the first, Mexicali put four on the board as C.J. Retherford stroked a two-run double and Ricky Alvarez and Xorge Carrillo added RBI singles.  The Aguilas batted around and pushed four more runs across in the fourth, keyed by Welington Dotel's two-run, bases-loaded single with two gone to make it an 8-0 Mexicali lead.  Navojoa's Jose Amador broke up Hector Rodriguez' no-hit bid by belting a leadoff homer in the top of the fifth, but the Ags scored one run in the bottom of the frame on Walter Ibarra's RBI single and another in the sixth when Yuniesky Betancourt slammed Miguel Ruiz' first pitch of the inning over the wall in left-center for a homer.
Rodriguez ended up going six innings and that Amador roundtripper was the only safety he gave up while striking out seven Mayos for his second playoff win.   Jorge Castillo started for the Mayos but got first dibs on the showers after lasting only two-thirds of an inning and giving up four runs.  The series now shifts to Navojoa after the two tilts in Mexicali drew 33,465 fans to Estadio B-Air.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: SUN, Jan. 10, 2016

Unheralded Luis Juarez (pictured) was the man of the hour in Mexicali by stroking a two-out, bases-loaded single to drive in the winning run as the Aguilas overcame an early 6-0 deficit to post a stunning 7-6 walkoff win over the Navojoa Mayos in Game 1 of their Mexican Pacific League semifinal series as 17,000 fans looked on in La Nida in Mexicali.  Despite starting an hour later than the Aguilas-Mayos game, Obregon's 4-1 Game 1 win in Mazatlan was concluded 15 minutes earlier.

MEXICALI 7-14-0, Navojoa 6-8-2
W-Caridad.  L-C. Bustamante (0-1).  T-3:56.  A-17,000.
The Mayos plated three runs in the top of the fourth as Jesus Castillo drilled a two-run single up the middle to open the game's scoring.  Jose Amador's RBI double and Victor Mendoza's run-scoring single paced a three-run fifth to make it a 6-0 Navojoa lead.  
The Aguilas finally broke through in the seventh, sending ten men up to bat and scoring five runs off five relievers to make it a 6-5 deficit as Chris Roberson poked a two-run single to right with two out.  After a scoreless eighth, the Aguilas completed the comeback when DH Luis Juarez lined a two-out, bases-loaded single to left that sent Yuniesky Betancourt scampering home with the winning run in the ninth.
Esmailin Calidad pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to get credit for the Mazatlan win.  Mayos starter Jose Oyervides was dominant over six scoreless innings, striking out nine Aguilas batters, but the bullpen failed him.  Carlos Bustamante's line on the ninth inning: 0.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs and the loss...not exactly "postcard to home" material.  Roberson had two hits, two ribbies and scored a run for the Eagles while Nate Tenbrink and Fernando Flores each had two hits for the Mayos.
Game 2 is Monday night in Mexicali.

OBREGON 4-6-0, Mazatlan 1-4-1
W-A. Lopez (1-0).  L-Alej. Soto (1-1).  T-2:46.  A-14,287.
Jeremias Pineda led off the top of the first with a double and came around to score on Agustin Murillo's ground-out to give the Venados an early lead.  The Yaquis came back with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, including a two-out, three-run homer to left by Carlos Valencia off MexPac ERA champ Alejandro Soto, who'd sailed through his first three scoreless innings.  Soto lasted two more entradas but the damage was done. 
After his rocky start, Obregon starter Arturo Lopez settled down and tossed five scoreless innings before being pulled with one out in the seventh.  Justin Greene finished with three hits and a run for the Yaquis, who outhit the Venados a 6-4 margin.  
Game 2 is Monday night in Mazatlan.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Playoff teams reload, LMP semis open Sunday

The Mexican Pacific League's four remaining postseason teams (three first round winners plus wildcard Mazatlan) held a so-called reinforcement draft in which each plucked two players from the rosters of the two first round losers, Jalisco and Los Mochis.  The Venados took the "lucky loser" tag one step further by taking the ball marked #1 in a blind draw to determine the draft order.  Mexicali went second, followed by Navojoa and Obregon. With the first pick, Mazatlan selected veteran infielder Agustin Murillo (pictured) from Jalisco.

REINFORCEMENT DRAFT RESULTS
MAZATLAN - IF Agustin Murillo (Jalisco), IF Jesus Arredondo (Mochis)
MEXICALI - P Terance Marin (Jalisco), OF Jesus "Cacao" Valdez (Jalisco)
NAVOJOA - P Luis Niebla (Mochis), P Tomas Solis (Mochis)
OBREGON - IF Alex Liddi (Jalisco), P Spencer Patton (Mochis)

While Murillo hit a so-so .267 for the Charros in the first round, he's a 13-year pro who's represented Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, spent time in Japan and had a standout 2014 for Monterrey in the Mexican League. hitting . 340 with 24 homers and 95 RBI's.  Mazatlan took another infielder, Jesus Arredondo, from Los Mochis after he hit .444 for his hometown team in the first round against Obregon.

Mexicali gets the hard-luck Marin, who had two good starts for the Charros, and LMP regular season bat champion Jesus Valdez.  Picking third, Navojoa plucked pitchers Luis Niebla and Tomas Solis from the Caneros.  Niebla had a good outing (5.2 IP, 1R) against the Yaquis while Solis had a 3.27 ERA in two starts.  Obregon scooped up IF Alex Liddi, an MLB vet who can play the corners and add power to the Yaquis order, and pitcher Spencer Patton, who allowed no runs and one hit over five innings in four first round appearances.

The semifinals open Sunday afternoon when Mexicali hosts Navojoa at 3PM PT in a game that'll be carried on ESPN3.  Mazatlan welcomes Obregon to Estadio Teodoro Mariscal for their 5PM MT Game 1 opener to be aired on Mexico's TVC Deportes cable channel.

Friday, January 8, 2016

D-backs to open own Mexican baseball academy

For years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have sought to establish a strong presence in Mexico.  However, the Phoenix-based team is planning something that neither the Los Angeles Dodgers nor San Diego Padres have done South of the border: Constructing and operating their own baseball academy for young prospects in Mexico.

While the comcept of a major league team building and running academies in Latin American countries is hardly new (the Dominican and Venezuelan landscapes are dotted with them and the great baseball movie "Sugar" opens in such a setting), the Diamondbacks will be the first to do so in Mexico.  Solo Beisbol's Roberto Espinoza reports that Hermosillo has been chosen as the site of both the academy and a D-backs' satellite office (also an MLB first).

Former big league first baseman Erubiel Durazo, a Hermosillo native, will oversee the operations in his hometown.  Durazo spent 1999 through 2002 with Arizona before playing three more seasons in Oakland, for whom he hit a combined 43 homers with 165 RBI's in 2003 and 2004 (batting .321 his second year with the A's, good for fifth in the American League).  Durazo is translated as saying, "We're making history as an organization and as a country.  With the support of Sonora governor Claudia Pavlovich, the Diamondbacks look to be a 'Mexican' team, build the country's first Academy, then go look for other states." Espinoza writes the states of Sinaloa and Nuevo Leon are being considered for future academy sites.  Former D-backs' All-Star Luis Gonzalez, now a special Adviser to team CEO Derrick Hall, has been in Hermosillo setting up shop (including the naming of scouts) in preparation for the team office and academy.

The news may not being going over well in the Mexican League offices.  The LMB has had a virtual monopoly over teenage ballplayers in Mexico for decades by signing them at an earlier age than MLB teams are able to, then retaining their rights when they become old enough to play up north.  An informal blacklist of homegrown players who circumvented the system by waiting and signing directly with MLB teams instead was lifted earlier this winter, allowing expats to play in Mexico after their days in the USA or elsewhere are over.  The LMB also operates an academy in Carmen, near Monterrey in Nuevo Leon) while a similar facility exists in Oaxaca.

MLB vets Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez, along with their father David, opened the Gonzalez Sports Academy featuring Mexican-born baseball prospects near San Diego in 2010.  Prospects who signed with MLB organizations gave the GSA a 30% commission, far less than the 70% routinely paid to LMB teams for the same thing.  The facility shut down in 2012.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

MexPac Playoff Scoreboard: THURS, Jan. 7, 2016

Obregon and Navojoa have advanced to the Mexican Pacific League playoff semifinals after both pulled off tight first round series-closing wins Thursday night.  They'll join Mexicali, who swept their opening round series over Jalisco, and wildcard team Mazatlan, who had the best showing among the three losing sides by winning two games, as did Mochis, but posting a higher run percentage than the Caneros in their respective series as part of the LMP's tiebreaker formula.

Navojoa will play Mexicali in one semifinal series while Mazatlan meet Obregon in the other, with Final Four action beginning Sunday.

OBREGON 4-8-2, Los Mochis 3-6-1
W-Adr. C. Ramirez (1-0).  L-T. Solis (1-1).  T-3:19.  A-14,631.

Max Ramirez (pictured) ripped a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to give Obregon an early lead and the Yaquis went on to beat Los Mochis, 4-3, to win their series in six games.  Los Mochis tied the encounter at 2-2 by scoring on errors by Yaquis' LF Leo Heras and SS Daniel Castro in a wild fifth inning, but Castro received a measure of absolution with an RBI single in the Yaquis' two-run sixth. Said Gutierrez scored on Justin Greene's sacrifice fly to right to make it a 4-2 Obregon lead.  The Caneros put one last run on the board in the top of the eighth when Antonio Lamas' two-out single to left drove in J.C. Linares from third, but that was the end of the scoring and ultimately the series for Mochis.  

Obregon starter David Reyes fared well, going 5.1 innings and allowing two runs on four safeties, but reliever Adrian Ramirez was credited with the win.  Tomas Solis took the loss after pitching 5.1 frames and giving up three earned runs.  The Yaquis finished with eight hits from eight different batsmen, four of them doubles.

Navojoa 5-13-1, MAZATLAN 4-11-1
W-de la O (1-0).  L-Barradas (0-1).  T-3:32.  A-11,023.

After falling behind by two runs after the first inning, Navojoa settled down and showed pluck by fighting back for a 5-4 win in Mazatlan to close out the Venados, 4 games to 2.  That first frame was tough for the Mayos defensively as Mazatlan scored on Cyle Hankerd's single, a bases-loaded walk to Erick Rodriguez and an infield single to deep short by Heber Gomez on a bang-bang play the Mayos appealed (and lost).

Navojoa fought back with single runs in the third, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, with Carlos Moncrief capping the Mayos' scoring with a solo homer to left. Jesus Castillo drove in Moncrief with up-the middle singles in the first AND eighth. Jeremias Pineda scored on a Hankerd single in the bottom of the ninth, but ex-MLBer Mike Jacobs struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch by Mayos closer Daniel Moskos to end the game and series.  Luis de la O got the win as one of six relievers to limit Mazatlan to hold the fort after starter Edwin Salas survived the first and survive into the sixth.  Arturo Barradas allowed Castillo's go-ahead single in the eighth, earning the loss.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MEXPAC PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD: WED, 1/6/16

The Obregon Yaquis and Navojoa Mayos are both one game closer to the semifinals after winning their Mexican Pacific League first round playoff games Wednesday night.

Obregon won Game 5 in Los Mochis, 4-1, as Dustin Martin (pictured) turned in a second straight top-notch night at the plate with a double and homer for the Yaquis.  Navojoa slipped past Mazatlan, 3-2, thanks to Jesus Castillo's solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning.  The Yaquis and Mayos are both up, 3 games to 2.

The teams change venues for Game 6 on Thursday night when Obregon welcomes Los Mochis and Mazatlan plays host to Navojoa.  Mexicali has already advanced by sweeping Jalisco in four straight games.

Obregon 4-8-1, LOS MOCHIS 1-9-3
W-R. Valdez (1-0).  L-Merritt (0-1).  T-2:53.  A-9,130.
Obregon starter Rolando Valdez gave up six hits in six innings to take the win.  Mochis' Roy Merritt pitched well over seven innings, but two of the three runs he allowed were unearned, with Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva's solo homer in the second the only untainted score on the sheet as the Caneros committed three errors.  
After Dustin Martin led off the top of the ninth with his third playoff homer to make it 4-0, the Caneros made things interesting when Emmanuel Avila and Jesus Arredondo opened the bottom of the frame by ripping back-to-back doubles for one run off Obregon closer Josh Judy, but Judy settled down to strike out Sebastian Valle, Rodolfo Amador and Juan Carlos Gamboa on twelve pitches to end the contest.  Martin also doubled and scored in the fourth

NAVOJOA 3-10-0, Mazatlan 2-6-1
W-O. Felix (1-0).  L-Barraza (0-1).  T-2:50.  A-9,711.
Nate Tenbrink slammed a two-run homer off Mazatlan starter Sergio Valenzuela in the bottom of the third for the only two counters Valenzuela allowed over 5.2 innings although he was far from sharp. Navojoa held that 2-0 lead until the top of the eighth, when Erick Rodriguez smoked a two-run bomb of his own into the left field bleachers at Parque Manuel "Ciclon" Echeverria to tie it up.  
Mayos first baseman Jesus Castillo socked a line-driver homer to right field to give Navojoa a lead they would not relinquish as Daniel Moskos pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to save the contest.  Mayos starter Eddie Gamboa shut out the Venados over seven frames, but it was reliever Oscar Felix who got the win.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

MEXPAC PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD: Tuesday, 1/5/16

It took a six-run seventh inning to do it, but the Mexicali Aguilas posted a 7-4 comeback win in Guadalajara Tuesday night to complete their four-game sweep of the Jalisco Charros and move on to the Mexican Pacific League semifinals.  Elsewhere, Navojoa evened up their series with Mazatlan at two games apiece by beating the Venados 3-1 while Obregon knotted up their first round set by taking a late-ending 15-7 win at Los Mochis behind the bat of Dustin Martin.

Mazatlan will play at Navojoa in Game Five on Wednesday while Obregon does the same in Los Mochis.

Mexicali 7-11-2, JALISCO 4-10-0
W-F. Rodriguez (1-0).  L-Flores (0-1).  T-3:07.  A-8,868.
The compassionate among us may light a candle for Jalisco hurler Terance Marin, who pitched well in a tough Game 1 loss Friday night and left Tuesday's game after six innings with a 3-1 lead before the roof caved in.  Mexicali went to town on Charros relievers Manuel Flores, Ivan Salas and Marco Tovar for six runs on as many hits in the seventh en route to sweeping the series in four straight games.  C.J. Retherford (pictured) had three of the Aguilas' eleven hits, including a double.
And Marin?  After pitching 13 solid playoff innings with a 2.08 ERA for the Charros, all he got was a loss, a no-decision and an early trip home.  Life is not always fair.

NAVOJOA 3-5-1, Mazatlan 1-5-0
W-E. Salas (1-0).  L-Gaxiola (0-1).   T-3:05.  A-9,532.
Mayos starter Jorge Castillo was solid for 4.1 innings, giving up one run when Olmo Rosario lined a homer into the left field seats in the second inning, and the Navojoa bullpen held on the rest of the way to give the home team a 3-1 win over Mazatlan to knot their series up at two games apiece.  
The Mayos didn't exactly torch Venados hurler Amilcar Gaxiola, who gave up just three hits in five-and-one-third innings of work, but Navojoa nicked the lefty for runs in the third, fourth and sixth frames. Jose Amador doubled in Carlos Moncrief in the fourth and singled in Quincy Latimore with another tally two innings later.  Edwin Salas struck out the only batter he faced in the fifth, enough to give the Mayos reliever the win (see: Marin, Terance).

Obregon 15-16-1, LOS MOCHIS 7-10-2
W-M. Carrillo (1-0).  L-Irvine (0-1).  T- 4:04.  A-9,521.
Obregon's Justin Greene cranked Luke Irvine's first pitch of the game for a homer, serving notice that this wouldn't be another pitcher's duel as the Yaquis went on to win in Los Mochis, 15-7.  The Caneros put three runs on the board in the second to take the lead before D'Arby Myers lined into a double play to right field as Dustin Martin made the catch and nailed Jesus Arredondo at home plate. Martin had a dream night at the plate by socking a two-run homer in the fifth inning, doubling and scoring in the seventh and swatting a three-run homer to right center in the Yaquis' seven-run exclamation point otherwise known as the ninth.
Sebastian Valle hit his third postseason homer in the eighth to make it a one-run deficit for Mochis at 8-7, but Obregon's ninth rendered the Caneros' follow-on all but moot.  It was a busy night in both bullpens as there were a combined 14 pitching changes between the two teams to make it a great night for beer vendors, not so much for pitching coaches.





Monday, January 4, 2016

MEXPAC PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD: Monday, 1/4/16

Mexicali now stands a win away from punching their ticket to the semis, Navojoa kept Mazatlan from going up 3-0 in their series while Los Mochis is ahead 2-1 in their set with Obregon.  The Aguilas beat the Jalisco Charros in Guadalajara, 4-3, Monday night, Navojoa shut out Mazatlan, 5-0, and Los Mochis snuck past Obregon, 2-1, on J.C. Linares' walkoff homer in the ninth.

Pitching continues to be the primary facet of the Mexican Pacific League's first round of playoff action after nine games, with all pitchers sharing a collective 3.04 ERA (Mexicali's staff has a 2.00 mark). Several top-flight starts were recorded Monday night, with Navojoa's Jose Oyervides (pictured) and Obregon's Arturo Lopez shining the brightest.

NAVOJOA 5-8-0, Mazatlan 1-4-0
W-Oyervides (1-0). L-Meza (0-1). T-2:48.  A-9,150.
Oyervides turned in the most dominant performance thus far in the MexPac's pitching-dominated first round, limiting Mazatlan to two singles over 6.1 frames and striking out 11 as the Mayos copped a 5-0 win over the Venados at Estadio Manuel "Ciclon" Echevarria in Navojoa.  Jose Amador's two-out single drove in Nate Tenbrink to give the Mayos a 1-0 first inning lead.  One inning later, a Tenbrink single to center brought in two more runs to give Oyervides a three-run cushion.  Navojoa's lead was 5-0 in the top of the ninth when Mazatlan finally plated a run as Albino Contreras came in on Olmo Rosario's 4-3 double play grounder to second baseman Carlos Orrantia, ending the game. 

Mexicali 4-6-0, JALISCO 3-7-0
W-Marco Duarte (1-0). L-Orlando Lara (0-1). T-2:39. A-10,143.
The Jalisco Charros put on a late rally to make things close, but the Mexicali Aguilas were able to hold on for a 4-3 win in Guadalajara Monday night.  Mexicali now leads the series, 3 game to 0. Marco Duarte posted a standout start for the Aguilas, breezing through seven shutout innings by scattering four hits with one walk, striking out seven.   Ramon Urias stroked the second pitch of the night for a homer in the top of the first inning for Mexicali.  The Eagles led 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth when Alex Liddi poled a two-run homer for Jalisco, but Jose Manuel Lopez struck out the last two batsmen to register the save.  Orlando Lara took the loss for the Charros.

LOS MOCHIS 1-7-1, Obregon 2-8-1
W-Patton (1-0). L-Sandoval (0-1). T-2:55. A-9,962.
In yet another LMP postseason pitching showcase, Obregon starter Arturo Lopez was rock-solid on the hill, going six strong innings and letting in one fourth-inning run on Antonio Lamas' RBI single while spacing out four hits and a walk.  However, it was a first-pitch walkoff home run by J.C. Linares in the bottom of the ninth off Jose Sandoval that gave the Caneros the win, wasting Lopez' effort.  Spencer Patton tossed the final two scoreless innings for Los Mochis to earn the win while Sandoval was tagged with the loss along with Linares' bomb.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

MEXPAC PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD: Saturday, 1/2/16

Mazatlan and Mexicali have taken command of their respective Mexican Pacific League playoff series, but Los Mochis rode the pitching of Tomas Solis, the legs of D'Arby Myers (pictured) and the bat of Jesus Arredondo to even their series with Obregon at a game apiece Saturday night.  A total of 83,431 attended games Friday and Saturday for an average of 13,905 per opening.

Sunday will be an off day for all six playoff teams, with sets resuming Monday when Obregon travels to Los Mochis, Mazatlan visits Navojoa and Mexicali heads to Guadalajara for the next three games, if needed.

Los Mochis 6-8-0, OBREGON 1-7-2
W-Solis (1-0). L-Dav. Reyes (0-1). T-3:16. A-14,304.
Solis carried a shutout into the sixth inning before allowing Max Ramirez' two-out homer, but Los Mochis scored early and often enough to come away with a 4-1 triumph in Obregon Saturday. Myers staked the Caneros a 1-0 lead in the first by scoring on Saul Soto's sacrifice fly, but it was a three-run second frame highlighted by Arredondo's two-run roundtripper than gave Solis a solid lead to protect. Sebastian Valle added his second homer in as many nights for the Caneros.

MAZATLAN 6-13-1, Navojoa 2-7-2
W-A. Soto (1-0). L-H. Velazquez (0-1). T-3:35. A-13,905.
MexPac ERA champion Alejandro Soto tossed 6.1 innings of four-hit shutout ball for Mazatlan as the Venados converted another strong start into a home win in a second night in a row.  Back-to-back RBI singles by Cyle Hankerd and Olmo Rosario put Mazatlan up 2-0 in the first and ex-Marlins DH Mike Jacobs' run-scoring single in the third made it a three-run advantage for the Deer.  Hankerd finished with three hits and two RBI's while Diego Madero went 2-for-2 with a double, RBI and run scored for Navojoa.

MEXICALI 5-9-1, Jalisco 2-7-1
W-H.D. Rodriguez (1-0). L-Nix (0-1). T-2:42. A-16,302.
Hector Daniel Rodriguez (1-0) pitched six-plus solid innings for Mexicali, scattering two runs on seven hits and striking out seven Charros. Alex Liddi's RBI single in the top of the first gave Jalisco an early lead, but C.J. Retherford smoked a two-run homer to key the Aguilas' four-run second frame and Mexicali never looked back. Charros starter Michael Nix let in five runs on eight hits and three walks in a shaky five-frame outing.

Friday, January 1, 2016

MEXPAC PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD: Friday, 1/1/16

Pitching was the order of the night for Friday's slate of Game One play in the Mexican Pacific League's first round of playoffs.

Javier Solano of Mexicali and Mazatlan's Walter Silva (pictured) both turned in top-notch starts for their teams while Navojoa's Eddie Gamboa and Jalisco's Terance Marin acquitted themselves decently, especially Marin.  However, the night ended with the swing of the bat from one of Mexico's most solid veteran second basemen, Obregon's Carlos Valencia.

MAZATLAN 4-7-1, Navojoa 1-5-0
W-Silva (1-0). L-Gamboa (0-1). T-2:46. A-12,436.
Cyle Hankard's two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a scoreless tie as the Venados went on to win Game 1.  Walter Silva pitched 7.1 shutout innings for Mazatlan, scattering three Mayos hits and striking out seven Mayos batsmen.  Quincy Latimore singled in Nate Tenbrink with Navojoa's lone run in the eighth, after Silva had already exited.

MEXICALI 2-6-0, Jalisco 1-5-1
W-Solano (1-0). L-Marin (0-1). T-2:28. A-14,917.
Javier Solano showed why he's a prime LMP Pitcher of the Year candidate by dominating Jalisco for the Aguilas, tossing seven innings and allowing one run on four hits, including an Alex Liddi solo homer in the fourth.  Xorge Castillo's RBI double in the second brought in what would prove to be Mexicali's winning run. Terance Marin had a solid start himself, going seven frames and giving up two runs on six hits for Jalisco.

OBREGON 7-10-1, Los Mochis 4-9-0
W-Adrian C. Ramirez (1-0). L-Avila (0-1). T-3:32. A-11,567.
Carlos Valencia blasted a three-run walkoff homer against Caneros closer Andres Avila in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Yaquis an opening win.  D'Arby Myers scored from second on J.C. Linares' single for Los Mochis' go-ahead run in the top on the tenth.  Valencia earlier clubbed a two-run homer and added an RBI single.  Sebastian Valle socked a solo homer for the Caneros.

NOTE: BBM is posting final scores of each game immediately following the final pitch on both Facebook and Twitter throughout the playoffs and Caribbean Series.

BBM TO FEATURE SCORES, HIGHLIGHTS DAILY THROUGH SERIE DEL CARIBE

Starting tonight, Baseball Mexico will be posting scores and highlights nightly throughout the Mexican Pacific League playoffs.  Posts will be made shortly after the end of the last game played. Scores will also be posted by BBM on Facebook and Twitter.

Tonight marks the beginning of the first round of LMP playoffs, with the #6 seed Jalisco Charros opening at #1 Mexicali, #5 Los Mochis playing at #2 Obregon and #4 Navojoa visiting #3 Mazatlan.  All postseason series in the MexPac are best-of-7 affairs, with higher seeds hosting both the first two games and (if needed) final two games of each set.

BBM will then follow the LMP champion as they next travel to the Dominican Republic for the 2016 Caribbean Series.  MexPac representatives won three consecutive Serie del Caribe crowns before Cuba's surprise breakthrough last winter.  The LMP pennant-winners will play the host Dominican League titlists in the February 1 nightcap, while the CS final is scheduled for February 7.