Monday, November 28, 2016

Retherford scores on grounder, ends LMP All-Star Game

C.J. Retherford (MXI) motored home from third base on Olmo Rosario's (OBR) one-out ground ball to South second baseman Jose Rodriguez ((JAL) in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the North a 4-3 win in the Mexican Pacific League All-Star Game Sunday in Obregon.  A crowd of 15,145 watched the first LMP edition of the midseason classic in 19 years at Nuevo Estadio Yaquis.

Sebastian Elizalde (CUL) opened the game's scoring with a two-run homer off Esteban Haro (NAV) in the top of the second to give the South the first lead of the game, but the North came back in the bottom of the frame with three tallies of their own, including a two-run blast off a Daniel Guerrero (JAL) delivery by Yuniesky Betancourt (MXI) that gave the hosts a 3-2 advantage.  The score stood until the top of the eighth, when a single by Jose Guadalupe Chavez (CUL) brought Elizalde in to knot the contest for the South at 3-3.

Retherford opened the bottom of the ninth by singling to left off Jon Sintes (MAZ), then went from first to third on a safety up the middle by Jose Amador (HMO).  One out later, Rosario tapped a grounder to Rodriguez at second, who was able to relay the ball to shortstop Chavez for the first out but the latter's throw to Cyle Hankerd (MAZ) at first for the inning-ending double play wasn't in time to get Rosario, allowing Retherford's run to count, ending the game.

Betancourt's homer was enough to earn him All-Star Game MVP honors for the night while Amador collected a pair of hits for the winners.  Leandro Castro (MOC) had two singles for the South, who were outhit, 7-5, for the match.  Reliever Jake Sanchez (MXI) got the win while Sintes was tagged with the loss.

Before the game, Jalisco's massive slugger, Japhet Amador, won a home run derby involving representatives of each of the LMP's eight teams.  The Mulege Giant outlasted hometown favorite Leo Heras, 11 to 10, in the final round to pick up a check for MX$15,000.  Amador has signed on to spend a second summer with Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2017.

The event is largely being hailed as a success for both the MexPac and the host Yaquis, although a pair of columnists featured on the Puro Beisbol site offered suggestions for future All-Star tilts.  In his Chepe On Deck column, Culiacan writer Jose Zazueta offered ideas such as more celebrities and singers, larger prize money for the players and autograph sessions for the fans.  Novena Inning scribe Bambino Sedrano of Obregon thought that one day isn't enough, a celebrity game preceding the home run derby wasn't needed and that the player selectors should do better next winter.  According to Sedrano, Navojoa pitcher Hector Velazquez and Culiacan outfielder-first baseman Bryan LaHair (who took part in the home run derby) should have been picked for the game.  The disappointment over the absence of Velazquez (who leads the LMP with 6 wins and a 1.99 ERA) is palpable;  LaHair is hitting just .239 with one homer and 9 RBIs in 19 games for the Tomateros thus far.