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.