|Obregon Yaquis pitcher Francisco Rodriguez|
The series shifted to Los Mochis, where the Caneros needed just one win to punch their ticket to the finals. They never got it, as Obregon won Friday's Game Six by a 4-3 count to tie the semis at three games each. The Yaquis scored all four of their runs in the top of the first off Yoanis Quiala, who gave up a two-run double to Mendoza in a 32-pitch inning. Los Mochis plated three scores of their own in the third off Yoanner Negrin with Quiroz providing the key blow with a two-run single. Negrin settled down and eventually earned the win while Quiala absorbed the loss. Santiago Gutierrez pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit relief in defeat for the Caneros after replacing Quiala in the second. The Yaquis, who missed the postseason the previous two winters, advanced to the finals by winning Saturday's Game Seven, 6-2, as Rodriguez tossed 5.1 innings of two-run ball for his second win in five nights. Obregon built an early 3-0 lead against Caneros starter Jaime Lugo, although the first two were unearned via a wild pitch and an error, and steadily pulled away. Linares, Julio Valdez and Isaac Paredes combined for six hits, four runs and two RBIs to account for all the Yaquis' scoring as Obregon capped their series comeback with two consecutive wins away from home.
|Jalisco Charros infielder Jose Amador|
Jalisco then won the next two games at home, starting with Wednesday's 6-3 triumph thanks to a five-run bottom of the first (four scores coming with two out, two on an Agustin Murillo fly ball to right that was muffed by Edson Garcia, allowing Amador and Henry Urrutia to cross the plate. Jalisco's Orlando Lara pitched six innings and allowed one run for his second win of the series while batterymate Gabriel Gutierrez socked a solo homer off Venados starter Konner Wade in support. Sebastian Valle and Anthony Giansanti both went deep for Mazatlan. The Charros closed out their semi in Thursday's Game Five, 10-6, as Jalisco overcame an early 2-0 deficit by scoring runs in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Jose Amador (no relation to Japhet) paced the 15-hit Horsemen attack by going 3-for-5 with a pair of two-run homers while Murillo also belted a longball for the winners. Valle and Giansanto homered again for Mazatlan in defeat while Rios added three hits and two ribbies.
After Obregon and Jalisco closed out their Final Four wins, both took part in a reinforcement draft Saturday. The Yaquis took a pair of second basemen in Los Mochis' Quiroz and Mazatlan's Rios while the Charros took starting pitchers Manny Barreda from Culiacan and Los Mochis' Quiala. Quiroz is perhaps more versatile than Rios, with about as many games at third base and shortstop as at second, and he would give Yaquis manager Sergio Gastelum more options. Barreda was not chosen in the previous two reinforcement drafts despite finishing second to Jalisco's Elian Leyva, the LMP Pitcher of the Year, with a 2.65 ERA. He started one game for the Anzoategui Caribes in the Venezuelan League semifinals last week, getting rocked by the Caracas Leones for four runs on six hits in 1.1 innings, but returned to North America after the Caribes were eliminated.
The MexPac championship series will open Monday night in Guadalajara at 9:15 Eastern as the Charros host Obregon.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Championship Series
Game 1 Monday, January 21 (9:15PM) Obregon at Jalisco
Game 2 Tuesday, January 22 (9:15PM) Obregon at Jalisco
Game 3 Thursday, January 24 (9:10PM) Jalisco at Obregon
Game 4 Friday, January 25 (9:10PM) Jalisco at Obregon
Game 5 Saturday, January 26 (9:10PM) Jalisco at Obregon*
Game 6 Monday, January 28 (9:15PM) Obregon at Jalisco*
Game 7 Tuesday, January 29 (9:15PM) Obregon at Jalisco*
*-if necessary. All times Eastern.
MANNY RODRIGUEZ REPEATS AS LMP MVP, LEYVA PITCHER OF YEAR
|LMP Most Valuable Player Manny Rodriguez|
Rodriguez was eighth in the MexPac with a .313 batting average and led the loop with 52 RBIs, his 80 hits were one behind Hermosillo's Jasson Atondo, he tied Castro for third in the LMP with 13 homers and matched Los Mochis' Isaac Rodriguez with 41 runs scored (ten behind leader Alonzo Harris of Navojoa). With his third MVP trophy, the Jalisco team captain now trails only the legendary Hector Espino, who won six such awards over his MexPac career.
|LMP Pitcher of the Year Elian Leyva|
|LMP Reliever of the Year Casey Coleman|
|LMP Rookie of the Year Jasson Atondo|
|LMP Manager of the Year Sergio Gastelum|
ACAYUCAN TOPS XALAPA FOR LIV CROWN; BOTH QUALIFY FOR L.A.S.
|Acayucan Tobis outfielder Yadir Drake|
The victory gives the Tobis their second consecutive winterball league title and third in the past four seasons. Acayucan won the Veracruz State Baseball League pennant last year in that circuit's second and final campaign under the guidance of former Brewers pitcher Narciso Elvira, who founded the loop in 2016 after the original LIV shut down operations due to financial difficulties. Elvira's LVEB also struggled to make ends meet before the reconstituted LIV returned this winter under the leadership of sisters Regina and Fabiola Vazquez Saut. Many baseball veterans played in the league this winter after Elvira's circuit relied almost entirely on younger (and less-expensive) players for two years, although the LIV retained the LVEB's practice of scheduling games only on weekends.
The Tobis and manager Felix Tejeda, a former Dodgers farmhand and Campeche Piratas reliever, found themselves in a tough spot right off the bat by dropping the first two games of the series at home, losing a 7-5 contest to Xalapa on January 5 and allowing two runs in a heartbreaking 8-6 loss on January 6. Acayucan fought back the following weekend by scoring five runs in the top of the ninth inning in a 11-5 road victory over the Chileros on January 11 but found themselves on the brink of elimination one day later after absorbing an 8-1 defeat. The Tobis stayed alive and sent the series back to Acayucan by plating five runs in the first inning en route to a resounding 14-4 win in Xalapa as Heber Gomez blasted a grand slam while Yadil Mujica, Rogelio Noris and Eliseo Aldazaba combined for nine hits, five runs and three RBIs to narrow Xalapa's advantage in the best-of-7 set to one game.
The Tobis tied the series at three game apiece Saturday with a 4-1 Game Six win in Acayucan's Estadio Luis Diaz Flores. The Mexican League's 2017 batting champion, Yadir Drake, had a big night for the Tobis by driving in fellow Cuban Yadil Mujica with the game's first run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, doubling in another run in the bottom of the third and launching a solo homer to left in the seventh. Eleven-year LMB veteran Yancarlo Angulo produced Xalapa's lone run of the game in the top of the ninth by Tobis starter Jorge Quinones got the win by pitching 5.1 shutout innings while holding the Chileros to two hits. Rookie Daniel Lobata took the loss for Xalapa.
Three games will be played on opening day Saturday: Xalapa vs. Panama at Beisborama 72 in Cordoba (a former LMB ballpark) at 1PM local as well as a 2PM doubleheader at Veracruz' Beto Avila Park with Colombia vs. Nicaragua followed by Acayucan vs. Argentina. The title game is scheduled for February 1, most likely at Beto Avila Park, another former Liga venue with the largest capacity of the four facilities at 7,782 seats. and the site of the first Serie Latinoamericana in 2013. The 27-year-old stadium served as home this winter for the LIV's Veracruz Rojos, who narrowly missed the postseason.