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LMP PLAYOFFS: FIRST ROUND OVER, SEMIS OPEN WEDNESDAY
The first round of the 2022-23 Mexican Pacific League playoffs are history and the four remaining teams are slated to square off in the semifinals beginning Wednesday night.
Los Mochis made short work of Navojoa by elminating the Mayos, 4 games to 1 while it took six games for top seed Hermosillo to knock out Mazatlan in a series delayed by violence throughout Sinaloa after the arrest of the son of drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last week. Obregon and Guasave were stretched the full seven games before defeating Mexicali and Monterrey, respectively, in their opening round series.
Here is a game-by-game capsule of each LMP quarterfinal series. Home teams are in all caps:
LOS MOCHIS DEFEATED NAVOJOA, 4 GAMES TO 1
SUN 1/1: LOS MOCHIS 7, Navojoa 6 (Rudy Amador scored walk-off run on throwing error by Mayos P Edwyn Valle in bottom of 11th)
MON 1/2: LOS MOCHIS 7, Navojoa 1 (Bruce Maxwell had RBI double and scored as Nick Struck allowed 1 run in 6 innings)
WED 1/4: Los Mochis 5, NAVOJOA 2 (Maxwell's 2-run HR keyed 4-run ninth after Caneros trailed 2-1, wasting Octavio Acosta's 5IP/1R start for Mayos)
THU 1/5: NAVOJOA 3, Los Mochis 0 (Ruddy Acosta allowed 2 hits in 5 shutout innings as Olmo Rosario doubled and homered for Mayos)
FRI 1/6: Los Mochis 4, NAVOJOA 3 (Amador doubled in Isaac Rodriguez in top of 11th, Esteban Haro held Mayos scoreless on 10 pitches for save in Mochis clincher)
HERMOSILLO DEFEATED MAZATLAN, 4 GAMES TO 2
SUN 1/1: HERMOSILLO 2, Mazatlan 1 (Elian Leyva allowed 1 run on 9 scattered hits over 6 innings for Naranjeros)
MON 1/2: HERMOSILLO 3, Mazatlan 0 (Wilmer Rios pitched 7 shutout innings, Jose Cardona went 4-for-4 with 2 doubles)
WED 1/4: MAZATLAN 3, Hermosillo 2 (Christian Villanueva went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs and Fabricio Macias tripled and scored twice for Venados)
FRI 1/6: MAZATLAN 2, Hermosillo 1 (Leo German scored go-ahead run from third on Cesar Vargas wild pitch in 5th after Thursday's postponement due to cartel street violence)
SAT 1/7: Hermosillo 4, MAZATLAN 3 (Nick Torres' 2-run HR in top of 11th gave Hermosillo 4-2 lead; Venados got run back before pinch-hitter Leonardo Reginatto flew out to end game)
SUN 1/8: HERMOSILLO 3, Mazatlan 1 (Wilmer Rios allowed 1 unearned run in 8.1 innings as Naranjeros scored 2 runs via 2 Mazatlan errors on same play in bottom of 6th)
OBREGON DEFEATED MEXICALI, 4 GAMES TO 3
SUN 1/1: OBREGON 9, Mexicali 4 (Niuman Romero hit solo HR in 7-run sixth inning as Yaquis overcame 4-1 deficit)
MON 1/2: OBREGON 4, Mexicali 3 (Allen Cordoba's single scored Victor Marquez with walkoff run in bottom of the 13th)
WED 1/4: MEXICALI 10, Obregon 6 (Anthony Giansanti and Xorge Carrillo combined for 4 RBIs as Aguilas chased Yaquis' P Mitch Lively for 7 runs on 6 hits in 1.2 innings)
THU 1/5: MEXICALI 2, Obregon 0 (Miguel Pena and two relievers combined for 3-hit shutout as Carrillo singled, doubled and scored twice for Mexicali)
FRI 1/6: Obregon 6, MEXICALI 5 (Carlos Sepulveda hit 2-run double and scored as Yaquis built 6-1 lead; Aguilas scored 4 in the 7th but Samuel Zazueta got save on 9 pitches)
SUN 1/8: Mexicali 4, OBREGON 2 (Niko Vasquez' 2-run single paced Aguilas' 3-run 6th, then Vasquez hit solo HR in 9th to clinch win for Mexicali)
MON 1/9: OBREGON 5, Mexicali 2 (Yadir Drake's 3-run double in bottom of 2nd helped Yaquis take 4-0 lead, Zazueta's 3 shutout innings of relief for save helped maintain it)
GUASAVE DEFEATED MONTERREY, 4 GAMES TO 3
SUN 1/1: GUASAVE 2, Monterrrey 1 (Joey Terdoslavich scored from first on Francisco Hernandez single in bottom of 10th)
MON 1/2: GUASAVE 2, Monterrey 1 (Solo HRs by Jesse Castillo and Terdoslavich in 2nd held up as Nico Tellache tossed 7.1 innings of 1-run ball)
WED 1 /4: Guasave 6, MONTERREY 1 (Julian Ornelas hit 3-run homer for Cottoneers to back Jeff Klnley's 6 innings of 1R/2H/4K pitching; Ricardo Serrano homered for Sultanes)
THU 1/5: MONTERREY 5, Guasave 4 (Bat champ Roberto Valenzuela had 3 singles, 2 RBIs and scored once as Sultanes held off elimination)
FRI 1/6: MONTERREY 6, Guasave 1 (Kennys Vargas' 2-run HR keyed 3-run Sultanes 3rd en route to 3-hit night; Frank Duncan tossed 6 shutout innings for win)
SUN 1/8: Monterrey 3, GUASAVE 0 (Six pitchers combined on 4-hitter for Sultanes as Valenzuela, Vargas and Gilberto Galaviz had RBI singles to force Game 7)
MON 1/9: GUASAVE 8 Monterrey 4 (Kinley got his second win with 6 shutout innings while Orlando Pina's 3-run HR off Kurt Heyer in 3rd gave Guasave a 6-0 lead that held)
The conclusion of the first round on Monday led to a second reinforcement draft on Tuesday. Hermosillo drew the first pick, followed by Obregon, Los Mochis and Guasave for the two-round selection process of picking reinforcements from among the four teams vanquished in the first round. As with the first such draft, one reinforcement will be allowed to be placed on his new team's active roster for the semifinals while the other will be placed on the Reserve List for that series.
With their two picks, the Naranjeros took two catchers: Gabriel Gutierrez (Mazatlan) and Xorge Carrillo (Mexicali). Obregon chose LHP Braulio Torres-Perez (Mazatlan) and LHP Marcelo Martinez (Mexicali). Los Mochis selected IFs Roberto Valenzuela (Monterrey) and Christian Villanueva (Mazatlan) and Guasave picked OF Sebastian Elizalde (Mexicali) and 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez (Mexicali). Thus far, Gutierrez, Valenzuela and Elizalde have been activated by their respective new teams while Obregon has not made their roster add choice.
The Final Four is scheduled to open Wednesday night. Guasave will send Gino Encina to the mound in Hermosillo while the Naranjeros have chosen Tyler Alexander as their Game One starter. In Los Mochis, the Caneros have tabbed Nick Struck as their opener against Obregon and veteran Manny Barreda.
MEX PAC BEGINS NAMING 2022-23 AWARD WINNERS
As the postseason enters into its second stage this week, the Mexican Pacific League has begun naming its individual award winners for the 2022-23 season as selected by front office and media members in all ten LMP cities as well as an online fan vote.
The first winner named was Hermosillo's Juan Gabriel Castro as Manager of the Year. Castro led the Naranjeros to the highest points harvest with 19.0 while their 43-25 record in the regular role was the best in the LMP, closing with 16 consecutive victories in Estadio Sonora, where they won all home series in the second half. In his second season at the helm of the Orangemen, Castro lead his team to victory 11 out of 12 times in the Mex Pac's Clasico against Culiacan.
Castro collected 42 percent of the vote to be named winner of the Benjamin “Cananea” Reyes Trophy. The second most-voted-for skipper was Jose Moreno of Los Mochis with 33 percent, 14 percent went to Luis Carlos Rivera of Obregon and 11 percent was for for Oscar Robles of Guasave. All four will be managing in the semifinals.
Jalisco outfielder Fernando Villegas has been chosen Rookie of the Year after finishing third in the LMP in batting percentage at .337 and in on-base percentage with a .399 mark, second in slugging percentage at .519, second in on-base plus percentage at .918 and tied for fifth in extra-base hits with 23.
The 24-year-old Villegas, who was classified as a rookie despite two seasons in the Pittsburgh organization and 48 games for the Charros over the previous three winters, is the first Jalisco player to win the Baldomero “Melo” Almada Trophy in the nine-year history of the franchise. He took 42 percent of the vote to finish first ahead of Hermosillo reliver Luis Marquez (29 percent), starter Juan Pablo Tellez of Mazatlan (19 percent), Obregon hurler Faustino Carrera (7 percent) and Yaquis reliever José Carlos Medina (3 percent).
And Colombian Elkin Alcala of Mazatlan has been selected as reliever of the Year for 2022-23. The right-hander finished as leader in the saves department, with 20 salvados in 22 oportunities while posting a 1.57 ERA, pitching a total of 34.1 innings in 34 games with 31 strikeouts. Alcala emerged as the winner by closing with 36 percent of the votes.
Second place went to left-hander Luis Márquez from Hermosillo with 34 percent, followed by Jake Sánchez of Mexicali (12 percent), Guasave's Brandon Koch (10 percent) and Samuel Zazueta from Obregon (8 percent). The Reliever of the Year Trophy is named after Salon de la Fama member Isidro Marquez, the all-time saves leader in both the Mexican League and Mexican Pacific League who still had to wait until 2020 to be elected for enshrinement in Monterrey nine years after retirement. Marquez took himself off the shelf last winter to pitch a combined 29 times at age 56 for Navojoa and Monterrey, going 2-0 with one save and a 2.78 ERA.
Other award winners, including Pitcher of the Year and Most Valuable Player, will be announced by the LMP league office in Guadalajara as the postseason progresses.
VERACRUZ CUP SEMIS, TITLE GAME SET FOR JANUARY 14-15
After more than 300 young Veracruzanos competed on 16 teams, Estadio Beto Ávila (home of the Mexican League Veracruz Aguilas) will be the scene of the Semifinals and Finals of the Veracruz Cup Winter League on January 14 and 15. The first game of the Semifinal will match the Chahuapan Águilas, directed by Fredy Ruiz, against the Papantla Voladores, managed by Noe Mata. In the other confrontation, the Chacaltianguis Mangueros (manager Adelaido Rodríguez) take on the Alvarado Pescadores (manager Juan Palacios).
The first semifinal game at Estadio Beto Avila is scheduled for Saturday, January 14 at 12:00 pm and the second at 4:00 pm. The game for third place will be on Sunday, January 15 at 12:00 pm followed by the Grand Final at 4:00 pm.
The tournament was divided into four venues: Deportivo Colon in Xalapa, Campo Anáhuac in Papantla, Campo Raciel Hernández in Otatitlan and Estadio Gustavo Burjois Fernández in Tierra Blanca. Sixteen teams saw action in 72 regular-day games, with an average attendance of more than 2,000 spectators per venue. The teams that participated in Xalapa were the Xalapa Tomateros, Emiliano Zapata Limoneros, Xico Vikingos and the Chahuapan Aguilas. In Papantla, the Papantla Voladores, Tampico Alto Cachorros, Poza Rica Tecnológicos and Coatzintla Maiceros did battle. Chacaltianguis and Alvarado also emerged from similar four-team groups in Otatitlan and Tierra Blanca.
Copa Veracruz president Vladimir Cruz Acosta says he's satisfied that 300 young players were physically activated from various municipalities of the state and supported by the LMB Veracruz Aguilas. Tournaments such as Copa Veracruz are intended to increase the competitive level of Veracruz prospects sought by the Aguilas and/or other profesional baseball organizations as well as young players who like to practice the game recreationally. Outside the traditional hotbed of northwest Mexico, Veracruz has been the most fertile state in the country for developing ballplayers for years.