Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mazatlan bops Mexicali, 7-1, in MexPac opener

The Mazatlan Venados took an early 2-0 lead and went on to defeat the visiting Mexicali Aguilas, 7-1, Tuesday night in the Mexican Pacific League's season opener.  A packed house of 15,320 was on hand at Mazatlan's Estadio Teodoro Mariscal.

The Venados scored the first two runs of the MexPac season in the bottom of the second, when former Angels farmhand Brian Hernandez (pictured, with AA Arkansas), who hit .280 with 8 homers for Laguna in the LMB over the summer, followed a walk to Corey Brown by lining a two-run homer to center field off Aguilas srarter Edgar Osuna.

Mexicali got one run back in the top of the fourth, when Xavier Paul's bases-loaded, fielder's-choice grounder to Mazatlan first sacker Cyle Hankerd plated Ramon Rios from third as Hankerd threw to second to force Yuniesky Betancourt. However, the Venados broke things open in the bottom of the sixth with five runs, keyed by back-to-back two-run doubles by Heber Gomez and Samar Leyva.  From that point on, the Mazatlan bullpen blanked the Aguilas the rest of the way.

Venerable Mazatlan starter Walter Silva went five innings for the host team, allowing one run on four hits and striking out three Mexicali batters.  A Mazatlan native who pitched for San Diego in 2009, Silva turns 40 in January.  This is his eleventh winter with the Venados.  Osuna, another Mazalteco, lasted five innings, allowing two runs on three hits with six whiffs to take the loss in a hard-luck start.

Mazatlan has been receiving a little more attention than usual from the baseball world this year.  Besides the Venados' status as defending LMP and Caribbean Series champions, a new 17,000-seat ballpark is planned for north of the city's Zona Dorado tourist enclave while Yucatan Leones owners Juan Jose and Eric Arellano have been interested in bringing a Mexican League team to their hometown, and recently purchased full ownership of the Laguna Vaqueros.  If the Vaqueros were brought west, Mazatlan would become the first city in Mexico (and possibly the continent) to host professional baseball year-round, although such a development is no sure thing.

The rest of the LMP swings into action Wednesday night.