Thursday, January 12, 2017

Barreda, Caneros blank Culiacan, 5-0, in semifinal opener; huge comeback propels Mexicali win

Manny Barreda gave up two singles and struck out ten Culiacan batters over eight innings to lead Los Mochis to a 5-0 shutout at home over the Tomateros Wednesday night in the opener of their Mexican Pacific League semifinal series.  In the other MexPac semi, the Mexicali Aguilas overcame a late 7-2 deficit with a six-run eighth inning in pulling off a come-from-behind 8-7 win at home over Hermosillo.

Game Two for the respective series will be played Thursday night at Los Mochis and Mexicali.

LOS MOCHIS 5-9-0, Culiacan 0-3-1

The Caneros' Manny Barreda gave up singles to Ali Solis in the third inning and Maxwell Leon in the sixth while retiring the side in order five times during his eight-frame stint.  He needed to be sharp early on as Barreda and Culiacan starter Patrick McCoy both tossed nothing but zeros until the bottom of the fourth, when Isaac Rodriguez put Los Mochis on the board by whacking a leadoff double, moving to third on a Lew Ford groundout to first and scoring on Leandro Castro's sacrifice fly to right.

Mochis added to their 1-0 lead with three more in the bottom of the sixth, chasing McCoy in the process.  Saul Soto sliced a single up the middle off Victor Marte to plate both Ford and J.C. Linares and make it a 3-0 score.  Ex-MLB hurler Dennis Reyes relieved Marte, but immediately gave up a single to Yosmany Guerra that brought Castro in from third along with an early exit for Reyes.  Castro then put an exclamation point on the procedings by homering to left center off Hector Navarro in the eighth to conclude the scoring in the Caneros' 5-0 triumph.

Castro ended up going 3-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a homer while Soto picked up a pair of hits.  An overflow crowd of 11,110 at Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada in Los Mochis watched a masterful pitching performance as neither Barreda nor reliever Santiago Gutierrez allowed a Tomateros baserunner to reach second base all night. The Caneros are seeking their first MexPac pennant since 2002-03 while Culiacan copped their last flag two winters ago.

MEXICALI 8-15-1, Hermosillo 7-13-2

Unlike the Los Mochis-Culiacan game, pitching had little to do with this one as the two combatants combined for 15 runs on 28 hits at Mexicali's Estadio B'Air in front of 14,232 spectators.

Jason Bourgeois led off the game with a double for the Naranjeros and later scored from third when Mexicali shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt misplayed O'Koyea Dickson's grounder to put the visitors up early. C.J. Retherford came in on a Agustin Murillo sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second to tie it up, but Jorge Flores' line single to left in the fourth drove in Jose Amador and Tim Torres to put the Orangemen back on top, 3-1.  The Aguilas got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Chris Roberson scored on Retherford's sacrifice fly to center, but the Naranjeros padded their lead with two more runs in both the seventh and eighth frames (the latter featuring a two-run homer from Dustin Martin) to make it a 7-2 Hermosillo lead with six Eagles outs needed to nail down the win.

Instead, Mexicali roared back with six runs in the bottom of the eighth to take their first lead of the night.  Luis Suarez cracked a three-run homer off Nathanael Santiago to start the scoring binge and Betancourt's two-out single to right brought in Missael German with the go-ahead tally.  The ex-MLB shortstop singled twice in the eighth as eleven batsmen came to the plate for the home team.   It was then left to Aguilas closer Jake Sanchez, who has allowed one earned run all season, to pick up his fourth postseason save.  It took a double-play comebacker to the mound to end the game, but Sanchez got the save in a most improbable Mexicali win.

Seven Mexicali players had two hits each in the Aguilas' 15-hit attack, but Juarez' homer was the only extra-base knock of the game.  Bourgeois and 5'5" shortstop Luis Flores each had three of Hermosillo's 13 safeties.  Edgar Gomez recorded one out in the top of the eighth to get credit for the Mexicali win while Heriberto Ruelas gave up Betancourt's late RBI single to take the loss for the Naranjeros.