Monday, April 4, 2016

Sultanes complete opener sweep of Diablos in front of 28,722 in Monterrey

The Mexican League began its 2016 season over the weekend with eight home-and-away series between Friday and Sunday, with an average of 10,222 fans attending 16 home openers from Cancun to Tijuana.

Quintana Roo led things off with a 4-3 home win over Yucatan in extra innings Friday in Cancun as Carlos Gastelum stroked a two-out walkoff single to right field to score Alfredo Lopez from second base in the bottom of the eleventh frame.  Starting later Friday, Tijuana clubbed Reynosa, 9-2, as Dustin Martin clubbed a three-run homer in the fifth inning to key the Toros offense.

Perhaps the biggest feat of the weekend was Monterrey's sweep over Mexico City, including a 9-7 Sultanes win Sunday in front of 28,722 onlookers at Estadio Monterrey (pictured above).  The Diablos were leading by a 7-4 count before the Sultanes sent all nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth and scored five runs to take the lead.  Luis Juarez' two-out double plated Alex Valdez and Welington Dotel with the go-ahead runs, but Juarez was thrown advancing to second on a throw from Diablos left fielder Ivan Terrazas.

Puebla and Veracruz also went 2-and-0 in their respective sets.  The Pericos snuck past Oaxaca, 9-8, in overtime Sunday in Puebla as Nyjer Morgan's bases-loaded walk off Guerreros veteran Sergio Lizarraga pushed Cesar Tapia across with the winning run, capping a rough frame for Lizarraga, who hit Tapia with a pitch before walking the bases loaded before Morgan stepped up.  The Aguilas Rojos wrapped up their two-dance card with Tabasco Sunday in Veracruz by topping the Olmecas, 2-1, behind Roger Kieschnick's two solo homers.  Nate Tenbrink socked a one-run tater of his own for Tabasco.

In all, a total of 163,551 fans clicked the turnstiles over the weekend.  Monterrey's crowd was by far the largest, but there was also double-digit attendance Friday in Tijuana (17,222) and Sunday in both Saltillo (13.002) and Yucatan (12,000).  The smallest gathering on Opening Weekend was Saturday in Mexico City, when 5,332 filled Estadio Fray Nano to capacity.  The good beginning at the gate made for a nice start with the Liga, where declining attendance in 2015 saw six teams average less than 3,000 per game while another four franchises brought in between 3,000 and 4,000 per opening during the regular season.  Monterrey had the highest average crowd last year with 9,404 per game while Yucatan brought in the largest total over 59 Leones home games at 528,321.

After the traditional Monday travel day, all 16 LMB teams will embark upon three-game series Tuesday, including Yucatan at Oaxaca, Quintana Roo at Puebla, Varacruz at Carmen and Campeche at Tabasco in Villahermosa in the Southern Zone while Tijuana will be at Monclova, Reynosa at Saltillo, Monterrey at Aguascalientes and Mexico City at Laguna in Torreon for Northern Zone matchups.