Sunday, January 15, 2017

Culiacan posts first semi win, rainout in Hermosillo

Number nine batter Jose Guadalupe Chavez (pictured) had a three-run homer and an RBI double to help power the Culiacan Tomateros to a 7-3 win over Los Mochis Saturday for a Game Three win in their Mexican Pacific League semifinal series.  The Caneros lead the set, 2 games to 1.

Meanwhile, Saturday's Game Three between Mexicali and Hermosillo at Estadio Sonora was rained out and rescheduled for Sunday, as is Game Four of the Tomateros-Caneros series in Culiacan.

CULIACAN 7-9-1, Los Mochis 3-6-1

Chavez' home run was the high point of a Tomateros four-run seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie and sent the home team to their first win of their semifinal soiree against Mochis.  The Guaymas native, a former Indians prospect who turned 32 on January 2, hit .241 with just 9 RBIs in 37 games for Culiacan during the regular season, making him an unlikely offensive hero in a lineup featuring more notable batters like Ronnier Mustelier, Jose Manuel "Manny" Rodriguez, Ramiro Pena and Joey Meneses.

The Tomateros manufactured a run in a hit-free bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Maxwell Leon got on base after Mochis first sacker Saul Soto misplayed his grounder, beat a fielder's choice relay to second on Ryan Lollis' ground to Caneros third baseman Juan Carlos Gamboa, took third on a Pena sacrifice bunt and came in to score on Meneses' sacrifice fly to center.  Culiacan took a 3-0 lead in the second when Chavez doubled in Ali Solis and Leon singled in Chavez from second. The score stood until Los Mochis pushed three tallies across in the top of the fifth to tie the contest as Soto, Sebastian Valle and Gamboa each had run-scoring singles in a tough inning for Tomateros starter Hector Daniel Rodriguez.  The Tomateros put the final three runs of the night on the board in the seventh when veteran Oscar Robles plated Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly, followed by Chavez' three-run bomb off reliever Isaac Rodriguez (a Phoenix-born rookie not to be confused with the Mochis second baseman of the same name, who hails from Hermosillo).

Hector Daniel Rodriguez took the pitching win to go to 3-0 for Culiacan in the playoffs after turning in a rather pedestrian 4-6 record with a 3.50 ERA during the regular season.  The hometown product went seven innings, allowing those three fifth-inning runs and six hits overall, striking out three and issuing no walks.  Roy Merritt was tagged with the loss for the Caneros after pitching 5.1 frames until being pulled by Mochis manager Luis Sojo.  Merritt was charged with five earned runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out one. The Houston native, who spent five years in the Mets system, was 6-6 for the Caneros prior to the postseason. Chavez, Mustelier and Manny Rodriguez each had two hits for Culiacan as 16,530 looked on at Estadio de los Tomateros, the site of next month's Caribbean Series. Nobody for Los Mochis had more than one hit.