Thursday, January 26, 2017

Solano sharp in Aguilas win, title series tied after four games

Javier Solano (pictured) took a shutout into the seventh inning and Jason Bourgeois collected three hits, including a key two-run single, as the Mexicali Aguilas tied the Mexican Pacific League championship series after four games with a 6-1 home win over Los Mochis on Wednesday.  For the second night in a row, a full house crowd of 17,000 was on hand in Mexicali's Estadio B'Air.

MEXICALI 6-12-0, Los Mochis 1-6-2

Mexicali broke the ice by scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning.   Regular season bat king Luis Juarez led off with a single off Caneros starter Luis Niebla.  After After Agustin Murillo flew out to J.C. Linares, a Yordanys Linares (no relation) fly ball to left was botched by Eugenio Velez, resulting in Juarez making it to third base and Linares the batter ending up on second.  Xorge Carrillo then hit a grounder back to Niebla, who made the throw to first for the out as Juarez scored from third.

The Aguilas carried their narrow 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth, where they put up three more runs on the board.  Niebla was still on the hill for Los Mochis and had pitched well to that point.  Ramon Rios led off for Mexicali with a grounder to third that Juan Carlos Gamboa was able to make the stop but couldn't get the throw to first in time as Rios beat out the infield single.  Chris Roberson followed by bunting in front of the plate and Niebla plucked the ball off the ground and threw it into the outfield.  By the time the ball was relayed back, Rios was on third and Roberson occupied second.  Jason Bourgeois stepped up and lined a two-run single to center, bringing in Rios and Roberson to put the hosts up by three.  Yuniesky Betancourt then drilled a double to right and the speedy Bourgeois motored in from first to bring the score to 4-0.

That spelled the end for Niebla, who was pulled for middleman Jon Sintes.  A 30-year-old West Florida product who pitched for Tabasco last summer, Sintes went on to record three outs without further damage. The Caneros responded with their first score of the night in the top of the sixth.  Velez led off by doubling to left off Solano, who was still working on a whitewash.  Velez completed the atonement for his second inning defensive miscue by roaring in from second on Isaac Rodriguez' single up the middle, beating Roberson's throw from center and plating the run.  Solano retired the next three batter to end the threat, then got the first two outs in the seventh before walking Sebastian Valle.  Aguilas skipper Roberto Vizcarra came out, waved in Efren Delgado from the bullpen and Solano walked off the mound to cheers from the hometown crowd. Delgado got Gamboa to ground to second for the final out.

Mexicali added another run in the seventh when C.J. Retherford lined a double to center off Sintes to score Betancourt, and the Aguilas went up 6-1 in the eighth as Carrillo, Rios and Roberson hit consecutive two-out singles, with Robo's safety driving in Carrillo.  Rios tried scoring on the same play but was nailed at the plate when Castro threw a strike from center to Valle, who applied the tag for the frame's final out.  

Solano pitched 6.2 innings for the win, allowing one run on five hits.  The former Dodgers minor leaguer has had a tough posteason for the Eagles, but looked good Wednesday in going to 2-3 in the playoffs.  Niebla allowed four runs in as many innings on seven hits in absorbing his second loss in four January decisions, but two of the runs were unearned and walked none as 45 of the Rockies farrmhand's 65 pitches went for strikes. Bourgeois finished with three of the Aguilas' 12 hits, driving in two runs and scoring once.  Saul Soto continued swinging the hot bat for the Caneros with the only two-hit game in the Mochis order.

Game Five is set for Thursday night in Mexicali at 7:30PM PST (0330 UTC).  Julian Arballo will get the start for Los Mochis while Miguel Pena will open the game on the mound for the Aguilas.