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.