Friday, January 27, 2017

Aguilas hold on for Game 5 win, series moves to Mochis

Former White Sox farmhand C.J. Retherford (pictured) knocked in two runs with a fifth-inning single to give Mexicali the lead and the Aguilas bullpen combined to hold Los Mochis scoreless the rest of the way as the Eagles came away with a 5-2 victory Thursday in Game Five of the Mexican Pacific League championship Series. The third sellout crowd in as many nights at Mexicali's 17,000-seat Estadio B'Air saw the Aguilas take the lead in the best-of-seven series, 3 games to 2.

MEXICALI 5-6-0, Los Mochis 2-9-3

After both sides were set down in order in the first inning, Mochis put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the second for the early lead. With two out, J.C. Linares smoked a double to left off Mexicali starter Miguel Pena and came in to score when Eugenio Velez singled.  However, Velez got caught in a rundown trying to take second for the third out.

After three good innings, Caneros starter Julian Arballo struggled early in the fourth by walking Mexicali leadoff hitter Yuniesky Betancourt and plunking Retherford.  Both runners moved up a base on Luis Juarez' flyout to right for the first out.  After Arballo walked Agustin Murillo to load the bases, Betancourt came in from third to score when Yordanys Linares topped a slow roller down to Mochis third baseman Rudy Amador, who had to throw to first for the sure out as Retherford and Murillo advanced 90 feet.  Xorge Carrillo grounded to second for the final out of the frame.

J.C. Linares put Los Mochis back on top with a leadoff homer off Pena's third pitch in the top of the fifth, but the home side put another two runners across the plate in the bottom of the entrada.  With one out, Arballo issued consecutive walks to Chris Roberson and Jason Bourgeois, followed by a two-strike Betancourt grounder to shortstop Yosmany Guerra, who mishandled the ball in an attempt to force Bourgeois at second to load the sacks for C.J. Retherford.  The ten-year minor leaguer out of Arizona State stroked the first Arballo delivery into left field to plate Roberson and Bourgeois, giving Mexicali a 3-2 advantage.  Caneros manager Luis Sojo then waved Isaac Rodriguez in from the bullpen to replace Arballo.  Retherford was thrown out by catcher Sebastian Valle trying to steal second while Rodriguez was in the process of walking Juarez and the Aguilas' rally ended when Murillo grounded out to second.

After that, it was nothing but zeroes until the bottom of the eighth, when Mochis setup man Santiago Gutierrez allowed back-to-back singles to Murillo and Yordanys Linares with one out, with Missael German replacing Linares as a pinch-runner. Xorge Carrillo then reached base on a throwing error by first baseman Jesus Arredondo, who'd just replaced Saul Soto at the initial hassock after the latter doubled in the previous inning and was replaced by a pinch-runner.  Ramon Rios then tapped a sacrifice bunt that Arredondo made yet another throwing error on to bring in Murillo and German with the final two runs of the game to give Mexicali a 5-2 lead.  It was left to closer Jake Sanchez to retire the side in order on seven pitches in the ninth to finish the contest.

Pena pitched 5.1 innings for Mexicali to earn the win, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk.  Arballo, who was coming off an outstanding start his last time out, struggled this time in being tagged with the loss as the Californian let in three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks in 4.1 frames, striking out two.  Sanchez retired all four batters he faced for his fifth playoff save.  Velez had three hits and J.C. Linares two for Los Mochis, who outhit the hosts by a 9-6 margin, with Yordanys Linares the only Mexicali batter
with two hits.  Errors cost the Caneros dearly, with three of the Aguilas' five runs recorded as unearned.

The two teams will take Friday off for travel before resuming the series with Game Six at Los Mochis' Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada on Saturday at 6:00PM MT (0100 UTC).  Hector Velazquez, who won his first start against the Caneros, will be on the mound for Mexicali while Manny Barreda will be on the hill for Mochis.  The Aguilas have outscored Mochis by an aggregate score of 24-15 and stand one win away from their first MexPac pennant since 1998-99 under manager Francisco "Paquin" Estrada, who is the father-in-law of current Mexicali skipper Roberto Vizcarra.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
2016-17 Championship Series
Gm 1  Sat, 1/21    LOS MOCHIS 3, Mexicali 1
Gm 2  Sun, 1/22   Mexicali 7, LOS MOCHIS 3
Gm 3  Tue, 1/24    Los Mochis 6, MEXICALI 5 (11)
Gm 4  Wed, 1/25  MEXICALI 6, Los Mochis 1
Gm 5  Thu, 1/26   MEXICALI 5, Los Mochis 2
Gm 6  Sat, 1/28    Mexicali at LOS MOCHIS
Gm 7  Sun, 1/29   Mexicali at LOS MOCHIS (if necessary)