Friday, September 9, 2016

Pericos outlast TJ, 6-3, title series tied at 1 game each

Dustin Martin hit his second homer in as many nights, a two-run shot that brought his Tijuana Toros to within a run of Puebla, but the Pericos added a pair of late runs and went on to beat the host team, 6-3, Thursday night to tie the Mexican League Championship Series at one game apiece.  An overflow crowd of 17,399 attended Game Two of the Serie el Rey at Tijuana's Estadio Gasmart.

Puebla got on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning when LMB batting champ Cesar Tapia, who's had a fairly quiet postseason, jolted a full-count delivery from Toros starter Barry Enright over the left field wall for a solo homer. The 1-0 score held until the top of the fourth, when the Pericos plated three runs. Daric Barton led the frame off with a triple, with Tapia singling him in. Subsequently, Alberto Carreon singled and Nyjer Morgan walked to load the bases with two out, bringing up Willy Taveras.  After Enright got him to whiff on the first pitch, Taveras lined the Pepperdine product's next offering to center field to bring in both Tapia and Carreon to make it a 4-0 lead for the Pericos.

Up to that point, Puebla starter Travis Blackley (pictured) was sailing along and the Aussie carried a one-hitter into the bottom of the fifth, when he walked Oscar Robles, wild-pitched Robles to second and then let up a run-scoring, ground-rule double to Carlos Valencia, who bounced a liner past Morgan and over the left field fence to ruin Blackley's shutout bid.  Things got a little warmer for Blackley and the Pericos in the sixth, when Martin followed up an Alex Romero single with his fourth homer of the playoffs to close the gap to 4-3.

That was as close as TJ would get, however, as Morgan singled in Tapia with a Puebla run in the top of the eighth off reliever Juan Sandoval and Barton touched Jason Urquidez with an RBI single in the ninth, driving in Jose Rodriguez with the final score of the game to clinch the win for the Parrots.  It was the first postseason run allowed by Urquidez in eight appearances after the Arizonan had saved 26 regular season games in 27 opportunities for the Toros.  The former Diamondbacks minor leaguer also pitched a scoreless inning for the victorious North in June's LMB All-Star Game at Estadio Monterrey.

Blackley got the win, allowing three runs over 5.2 innings on four hits and three walks, while Chad Gaudin picked up his fifth postseason save.  Enright took the loss, his second defeat in three playoff decisions, after giving up four runs on eight hits in 3.2 frames.  Tapia had three of Puebla's 13 hits, scoring three times and driving in two runs.  Tijuana collected just four hits on the night and now have just seven safeties over the first two games of the title tilt.

The two combatants will have the day off Friday before resuming the Serie el Rey with three games at Puebla's Estadio Hermanos Serdan Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Puebla is seeking its fifth Liga pennant since first fielding an LMB team in 1942 and their first since 1986.  Former big leaguer Cory Snyder has managed the Pericos since the All-Star Break, when the team shockingly fired Matias Carrillo even though the team had the best record in the league at the time.  Carrillo is now a member of the Toros coaching staff under skipper Pedro Mere, who himself assumed the reins July 4 after Luis Sojo was canned.  This is the first time Tijuana has played for a Mexican League title.

Puebla 6-13-0, TIJUANA 3-4-0 (Series tied at 1 game each)
W-Blackley. L-Enright. SV-Gaudin. HR-Martin (T). T-2:46. A-17,399.