Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gastelum drives in three as Hermosillo ties series, Mochis wins as Romo earns save

The Hermosillo Naranjeros have bounced back from two thrashings in Mexicali to tie their series with the Aguilas after winning Game Four, 4-1, Monday night in Mexcan Pacific League semifinal action before 18,156 (mostly) hometown fans in Estadio Sonora. Jeremy Kehrt earned the victory with an effective start for the Orangemen, who got three RBIs from Carlos Gastelum. In the other MexPac semi matchup, Isaac Rodriguez' run-scoring double gave visiting Los Mochis a fifth-inning lead they would never relinquish as the Caneros went on to best Culiacan, 3-2, as 16,039 looked on at Estadio de los Tomateros. The win, which marked the first time a home team has lost in this series, gives Los Mochis a 3-games-to-2 lead in the set.

Game Five of the Aguilas-Naranjeros semi is scheduled for Tuesday night in Hermosillo.  The Caneros and Tomateros will take a travel day off before playing Game Six Wednesday night in Los Mochis.

HERMOSILLO 4-8-3, Mexicali 1-7-1

Neither team put a run on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Hermosillo's Carlos Gastelum (pictured above in mid-air) sliced a bases-loaded double to left off last winter's LMP Pitcher of the Year, Javier Solano, that brought in Tim Torres and Sergio Burruel to give the Naranjeros a 2-0 lead.  That was more than enough cushion for Jeremy Kehrt to carry a lead into the seventh. Kehrt did allow a Mexicali score in the top of the fifth when Ramon Rios singled Luis Juarez across home plate, but the Dodgers farmhand all but took the bats out of the Aguilas' hands by allowing the lone run on four hits in 6.2 innings pitched.

Hermosillo posted another run in the sixth as Gastelum's single up the middle brought in Jorge Flores from second to open their lead to 3-1, followed by another run in the seventh when Jose Amador crushed a Yair Loaiza delivery over the center field wall to put the Orangemen up by three.  Jose Samoya and Rafael Martin held the Aguilas scoreless over the final two innings to close out the win, with Martin earning his fourth playoff save.

Kehrt kept the Mexicali batters off balance en route to his first playoff win.  Solano fell to 0-3 in January by giving up Hermosillo's first two runs in 3.2 innings on four hits and four walks as both starters battled occasional control issues.  Gastelum ended up going 2-for-5 with three ribbies while Amador added a pair of two-baggers to augment his longball for the Naranjeros.  C.J. Retherford had two singles for the Aguilas and Yuniesky Betancourt rapped an eighth-inning double. Mexicali has now scored a total of two runs in Hermosillo the past two nights after piling up 24 runs in two tilts back home to open the series.

Los Mochis 3-11-0, CULIACAN 2-6-0

Los Mochis wasted no time bothering the scorekeeper as Eugenio Velez belted a leadoff homer to left against Tomateros starter Patrick McCoy, but Culiacan responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the initial frame when Maxwell Leon and Ryan Lollis starting things off with consecutive doubles off Caneros opener Manny Barreda (who signed with Atlanta last month shortly after tossing the season's only no-hitter).

The score remained at 1-1 until the top of the fifth, when McCoy gave up doubles to Juan Carlos Gamboa and Isaac Rodriguez, the latter giving Mochis the lead back.  Culiacan skipper Che Reyes replaced McCoy with Hector Navarro, who threw two strikesas  to Lew Ford before Ford punched Navarro's third delivery past second base to plate Rodriguez with the Caneros' second run of the inning to put the visitors on top, 3-1.  Ramiro Pena brought the Tomateros one run closer in the bottom of the fifth by lashing a double to center off Barreda, scoring Leon all the way from first base. From that point on, Barreda and four Mochis relievers combined to hold the hosts to two singles the rest of the way, a good thing for the Caneros since their offense was likewise scoreless over the final four innings.

Barreda got the win to go to 3-0 in the playoffs.  It wasn't a smooth outing for the righty from Arizona, who allowed five hits and five walks in 5-2 innings but only allowed two runs as the primary beneficiary of the Tomateros going just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  McCoy ended up allowing three runs on eight hits over 4.1 innings of work to take the loss.  MLB free agent Sergio Romo earned his fourth playoff save in his first appearance of the series.  Romo has caused a stir in Mexico this week after a writer quoted him talking about racial discrimination he's faced on both sides of the border as a Mexican-American.  That piece will run in translated form on BBM within the next few days.