Monday, January 9, 2017

Mexicali advances, LMP semi field determined

The Mexicali Aguilas were stretched to ten innings before finally winning in Navojoa, 6-4, Sunday night to win their Mexican Pacific League playoff series, 4 games to 2, and join Los Mochis in the LMP semifinals. In Sunday's other first round game, Hermosillo snuck past Culiacan, 5-4, at Estadio de los Tomateros.  That series is tied at three games apiece, meaning both teams will advance to the Final Four regardless of Monday night's Game Seven outcome because the series loser will have three wins, more than Navojoa's two victories and Mazatlan's one to qualify for the fourth "Lucky Loser" berth coming out of the opening round's three series.

Mexicali 6-13-2, NAVOJOA 4-9-2

Jon Del Campo (pictured) broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the tenth inning by scoring on Emmanuel Avila's bases-loaded groundout as the Mexicali Aguilas went on to beat Navojoa, 6-4, Sunday to win their opening round series in six games.  A crowd of 10,976 nearly filled Navojoa's Estadio Manuel "Ciclon" Echeverria.

The Mayos scored in the bottom of the first inning when Alan Sanchez singled in Yosmany Guerra from second base with the game's first run.  The hosts then made it a 3-0 lead in the third on back-to-back RBI singles from Sanchez and Jesus Castillo off Mayos starter Kameron Loe.  Mexicali came back to knot the game up with three fourth-inning runs, starting with C.J. Retherford's leadoff homer off Mayos starter Troy Marks, who went on to give up one more run on a Del Campo single and load the bases before issuing a two-out walk to Yordanys Linares that pushed Del Campo across with the tying run.  The Aguilas took the lead in the fifth on Xorge Carrillo's run-scoring single, but Navojoa fought back with a tally in the bottom of the frame when Quincy Latimore singled in Guerra with the latter's third run of the game.

Both teams swapped zeros from the sixth through the ninth frames to send to contest into overtime, when Mayos reliever Esteban Haro loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the tenth.  Pinch-hitter Avila then sent a grounder to Navojoa first sacker Castillo, who tagged first for the out and then threw home to force Del Campo at the plate, but catcher Omar Renteria failed to make the catch and Mexicali took the lead.  Mayos manager Matias Carrillo finaly gave Haro the hook, but the damage proved irreversable.  Jesus Garcia intentionally walked Yuniesky Betancourt to fill the bases for Retherford, whose sacrifice fly to left plated Ramon Rios to give the Aguilas a 6-4 advantage.  It was then left to Mexicali closer Jake Sanchez to finish the job for the series-clinching win (and his third playoff save) by pitching a scoreless tenth.

Jose Manuel Lopez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Aguilas to earn the win while Haro, who'd also tossed a scoreless ninth, took the loss.  Del Campo finished with a perfect 4-for-4 night for Mexicali batting from the eighth slot in the order while Retherford went 2-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored.  Latimore had three singles for the Mayos, who'd been the top seed when the playoffs opened.

Hermosillo 5-9-3, CULIACAN 4-4-1

Carlos Gastelum scored the go-ahead run on O'Koyea Dickson's seventh-inning sacrifice fly and Hermosillo went on to record a 5-4 win before 15,643 onlookers in Culiacan Sunday night.  The first-round series is tied after six games, meaning both teams will advance to the MexPac semifinals no matter what happens in Monday's Game Seven at Estadio de los Tomateros.  Whoever falls short in tonight's game will still have won three games in the series, qualifying for the fourth semi seed as the first round's "lucky loser" team.

The game was a scoreless tie going into the bottom of the fourth inning, when Culiacan pushed four runs across against Hermosillo starter Barry Enright.  With two out, Issmael Salas stroked a two-run single off Enright followed by a two-run homer by Jose Manuel Orozco.  The Naranjeros fought back with three runs in the top of the fifth, keyed by Gastelum's two-run, bases-loaded single and a Dickson sac fly that brought in Jason Bourgeois from third.  The Tomateros were clinging to their 4-3 lead going into the top of the seventh, when reliever David Goforth gave up a leadoff single to Jorge Flores and induced a Bourgeois pop out to second before walking Gastelum.  Efren Navarro's grounder to short was misplayed by Ramiro Pena, allowing Flores to score the tying run from second while Gastelum went from first to third.  Dickson then lofted his second run-scoring sac fly of the night to center, as Gastelum beat Maxwell Leon's thrown to the plate to give the Naranjeros their first lead of the game.  It was then left to Enright and two relievers to hold the Tomateros scoreless over their final three frames to seal the win.

Enright finished with seven innings to earn his second victory of the series, allowing just four hits and a walk with two strikeouts.  None of the four runs he allowed were earned, due to a fourth-inning fielding error by Flores at shortstop on Jose Manuel Rodriguez leadoff grounder, which should've been the first out (instead, four runs scored with two outs registered).  Nationals farmhand Rafael Martin, who was a midseason All-Star last summer with AAA Syracuse, earned his second postseason save.  Goforth was saddled with both the blown save and the loss for Culiacan.