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Tomas Solis, ordinarily a starter, was pressed into late duty and ended up taking the loss even though he'd been replaced by Ruddy Acosta when Roberson charged in from third.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.