|Aguascalientes' 3B Jose Vargas hit two homers Sunday|
Elsewhere in LMB division semifinal lidlifters, there were no surprises as upper-seeds Monterrey, Yucatan and defending champion Puebla each won their respective best-of-7 Game One contests, all at home. Game Two action is scheduled for Monday.
Aguascalientes 7-12-0, TIJUANA 3-7-0
W-Del Rosario (1-0). L-C. Hernandez (1-0). A-17,201. T-3:32.
Vargas was the star of the show as the fourth-place Rieleros surprised LMB North regular season champs Tijuana, 7-3, in front of 17,201 onlookers in the border city. The 29-year-old Ventura, California product went 3-for-3 with a pair of two-run homers while Jesse Castillo socked an eighth-inning solo shot to place an exclamation point on the Aguascalientes win. Starter Francisco Del Rosario combined with four relievers, including former Yankees reliever Sergio Mitre, to limit the potent Toros to three runs on seven hits. Del Rosario tossed 5.1 innings for the win, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks, striking out seven. Tijuana took a 1-0 lead in the first, but Vargas (who went deep 23 times in the regular season) replied with his first two-run bomb in the second frame and added another in the fourth to put the Railroaders up 5-2. TJ leadoff batter Jose Guadalupe Chavez had three hits, two of them doubles, and drove in two runs but Toros starter Carlos Hernandez gave up five runs in four innings, including both Vargas homers, to take the loss.
MONTERREY 5-14-0, Monclova 2-10-0
W-Struck (1-0). L-Lowey (0-1). A-22,458. T-2:55.
Luis Juarez stroked a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie as Monterrey went on to take a 5-2 win over Monclova in their series opener with 22,458 in the stands at Estadio Monterrey. The Sultanes drew first blood in the second when veteran Chris Roberson lined a two-out single to Acereros rightfielder Carlos Quentin, bringing in Daniel Mayora (who finally appeared in a couple of late-season games after going missing in the lineup since July 20, long enough to start appearing on milk cartons) and Agustin Murillo. Monclova knotted the score up in the top of the sixth on RBI singles from Quentin and Rudy Amador off Monterrey starter Javier Solano. One-time Cubs farmhand Nick Struck replaced Solano after Amador's safety and tossed 2.1 innings of one-hit shutout ball through the eighth to earn the win for Monterrey and Wirfin Obispo hurled a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. Roberson finished with three hits and a stolen base while Matt Clark went 3-for-4 for Monclova.
YUCATAN 2-3-0, Leon 0-3-0
W-Negrin (1-0). L-Quevedo (0-1). A-8,163. T-2:08.
Leones starter Yoanner Negrin flashed the form that made him the Mexican League's 2016 Pitcher of the Year in Yucatan's 2-0 victory over surprising Leon in a briskly-played game at Merida. The Cuban exile pitched eight innings of one-hit ball, striking out nine Bravos batsmen and walking just two as 69 of his 99 deliveries went for strikes. Diego Madero scored the only run the Lions would need in the bottom of the first inning by hitting a one-out triple to center off Leon pitcher Marco Quevedo, then coming home on Ronnier Mustelier's sacrifice fly to Leander Castro in right. The hosts added an insurance run in the fifth when Yuniesky Betancourt hit a leadoff single, went to second on Esteban Quiroz' sacrifice bunt and scored when Jose Aguilar lined a double to left. Quevedo went all the way for Leon to take the tough-luck loss. The Bravos were 45-60 in the regular season to finish fifth in the LMB South, but won a qualifier game at fourth-place Veracruz Friday in what may have been the final game for the Rojos del Aguila, rumored to be Nuevo Laredo-bound for 2018.
PUEBLA 7-14-0, Quintana Roo 1-10-0
W-Roenicke (1-0). L-Loe (0-1). A-7,146. T-2:55.
Puebla first baseman Ricky Rodriguez had an RBI double and a grand slam homer to lead the defending champion Pericos to a convincing 7-1 win over Quintana Roo in their Sunday opener at Estadio Hermanos Serdan. Jesus Arredondo and Rodriguez opened the bottom of the second inning with back-to-back doubles off Tigres starter Kameron Loe, a onetime Texas Rangers starter during his nine-year MLB career. Rodriguez came in on a Sergio Perez sacrifice fly to put the Parrots up 2-0. The Tigres got a run back in the top of the fourth when Sergio Contreras scored from second on Osniel Madera's single up the middle but Puebla put the game in their pockets when Rodriguez greeted Quintana Roo reliever Alberto Leyva by belting a bases-loaded homer over the left field wall to make it a 6-1 game. Julio Borbon, who had three hits on the night, added a solo blast for the Pericos in the eighth. Former MLB reliever Josh Roenicke, son of ex-big leaguer Gary, gave up one run in seven innings for the Puebla win while Loe (6.1 IP, 5 ER) absorbed the loss. Like Veracruz, the Pericos are exploring a move in the offseason.
Aguascalientes (Flande, 12-6, 4.36) at Tijuana (Pena, 11-2, 2.77)
Monclova (Verdugo, 8-2, 2.64) at Monterrey (Castro, 11-6, 4.28)
Leon (Moscoso, 7-3, 3.89) at Yucatan (Russell, 1-0, 2.03)
Quintana Roo (Ortega, 10-9, 3.43) at Puebla (Outman, 7-1, 5.02)
NOTE: Pitchers' totals are from the regular season. Matchups are posted on Puro Beisbol's LMB POR DENTRO column.