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.