|Monterrey IF Agustin Murillo, during his 2015 stay in Japan|
Agustin Murillo's two run single in the sixth inning paced Monterrey's 6-3 series-clinching win in Monclova as the Sultanes advanced to the LMB North championship series, Andres Meza and three relievers combined to blank Quintana Roo, 2-0, as the Pericos scored twice in the ninth to break up a scoreless contest in Cancun, Jose Aguilar's two-run homer highlighted a three-run second in Yucatan's 5-1 win at Leon to take a 3-to-0 lead in that set and a two-run Jose Vargas double was the centerpiece of Aguascalientes' go-ahead, three-run sixth in a series-knotting 3-2 win over the Toros.
With two opening-round series concluded, two games are on the schedule Friday night as Yucatan plays at Leon while Tijuana concludes their three-game visit to Aguascalientes.
Monterrey 6-12-0, MONCLOVA 3-7-0
W-J. Reyes (1-0). L-M. Lara (0-1). Sv-Obispo (2). A-8,500. T-3:25.
The Sultanes and Acereros were in a 1-1 deadlock until the top of the sixth inning, when Monterrey scored three times to take the lead for good en route to a 6-3 win. Walter Ibarra singled in Jesus Montero in the second to give the visitors the first run of the game, but Monclova tied it up in the fourth when Carlos Quentin came in from third on Tim Torres' two-out safety. Veteran infielder Agustin Murillo broke the game open with a two-run single up the middle in the top of the sixth for Monterrey, with Ibarra adding another run-scoring single to post the Sultanes a 4-1 advantage. The Acereros made it a one-run game in the bottom of the frame when Jose Amador's tripled plated one score and a Torres single brought in another, but that's as close as Monclova got. Daniel Mayora had two singles and a double to drive in two runs and score another for Monterrey, who completed a four-game sweep. Jorge Reyes gave up three runs in 5.2 innings for the win. Mauricio Lara (5.2 IP, 4 ER) took the loss for the Acereros.
AGUASCALIENTES 3-7-2, Tijuana 2-6-1
W-Romero (1-0). L-M. Serrano (0-1). Sv-E. Salas (1). A-5,899. T-3:02.
The surprising Rieleros, who lost 7 of 9 games to Tijuana during the regular season (including two series sweeps), evened up their division semi set with the Toros with a 3-2 Game Four win at home. Starters Horacio Ramirez of Tijuana and Aguascalientes' Francisco Moreno traded zeros through four innings before the Toros' Jose Guadalupe Chavez singled in Juan Apodaca with the game's first run in the top of the fifth. The Railroaders took the lead in the sixth when Jose Vargas' double brought in two runs and a Cristhian Presichi single scored Vargas from second, giving the hosts a 3-1 lead. Cyle Hankerd's two-out solo homer in the eighth brought Tijuana within a run. The Toros had two runners on base in the ninth with one down when Roberto Lopez belted what looked to be a sure homer until Dave Sappelt made a leaping catch at the right field wall for the second out. Edwin Salas then got Oscar Robles to hit a game-ending groundout to second. Presichi singled twice to lead the Rieleros' seven-hit attack while Apodaca and Corey Brown both hit two singles for Tijuana. Moreno gave up one run in five innings to earn the win.
Puebla 2-10-0, QUINTANA ROO 0-8-2
W-J. Felix (1-0). L-Barron (0-1). Sv-Heath (2). A-5,306. T-3:07.
The Pericos closed out their sweep of the Tigres with a 2-0 Game Four shutout during which Puebla starter Andres Meza blanked Quintana Roo on six hits over 5.1 innings and relievers Mario Morales, Julio Felix and Deunte Heath carried the whitewash to its conclusion. For his part, Tigres hurler Misael Siverio threw six scoreless innings, allowing six hits. The scorer was unbothered until the top of the ninth, when Puebla's Hector Garanzuay singled in the game's first run and Cesar Tapia came in from third on Sergio Perez' fielder's choice groundout to Tigres reliever Raul Barron. Heath retired the hosts in order with two strikeouts on 19 pitches to seal the win for the Pericos. The series sweep serves as delicious irony for Puebla fans who saw 20+ members of their 2016 pennant winners transferred to Monclova in the offseason after owner Gerardo Benavides bought the Acereros, who were founded in 1974 by Benavides' grandfather. The loaded Steelers ended up getting swept by Monterrey while manager Tim Johnson's scrappy Pericos move on to the LMB South title series.
Yucatan 5-8-0, LEON 1-3-0
W-Samayoa (1-0). L-Lively (0-1). A-6,238. T-2:25.
One night after Wednesday's rainout in Leon, Yucatan built a 4-0 third inning lead and went on the top the Bravos, 5-1, to take a 3-games-to-0 lead in their LMB South semifinal series. The Leones went up 3-0 in the top of the second inning when Yuniesky Betancourt's run-scoring sacrifice fly was followed by a two-out, two-run homer by Jose Aguilar off Leon starter Mitch Lively. Yucatan's Leo Heras led off the third with a double, then came in on Diego Madera's single to put the Lions up four runs. The Bravos' lone tally came in the bottom of the fifth when Niko Vasquez doubled off Yucatan starter Jose Samayoa and scored one out later on a Miguel Torrero single. Ricky Alvarez' solo homer in the ninth provided the Leones their final margin of victory. Samayoa carried a no-hitter into the sixth to earn the win as the righty combined with three relievers to limit Leon to three hits on the night. Lively gave up four runs on seven hits in 6.2 frames to absorb the loss. The Liga's regular season RBI champ Alvarez homered and doubled, scoring twice for the Leones.
Yucatan (Castellanos, 7-5, 4.73) at Leon (Silva, 8-9, 3.07)
Tijuana (C. Hernandez, 10-2, 2.67) at Aguascalientes (del Rosario, 4-6, 3.71)
Stats are from regular season. Matchups provided by Puro Beisbol.