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.