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Baseball Analysis   Bruce Baskin 

B a s e b a l l   M e x i c o
Monday, October 17, 2022

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Opening Night Mazatlan            The cellophane has been torn off the Mexican Pacific League's 2022-23 campaign as all ten team began regular season play beginning last Tuesday and hosted their home openers over a six-day period. The sporadic first-week schedule saw most LMP teams playing the usual two-game, home-and-away openers with rival squads that has been a hallmark of the circuit for years, although the Mazatlan Venados and Jalisco Charros played their first four games in Guadalajara before moving to Pearl of the Pacific for a single game on Sunday.


            Home openers in Monterrey, Guasave and Mazatlan all drew fewer than 10,000 spectators while overall attendance was 119,146 for an average of 11,915 for the ten lidlifters. A full house of 20,000 was on hand for Tuesday's premiere in Culiacan's Estadio Charros followed by 16,073 in Hermosillo on Wednesday and 15,982 at Obregon's opener Thursday night. The smallest first-night gathering was the 6,226 on hand in Guasave on Wednesday.


            Let's take a look at each of the ten Mex Pac openers in order of date played. Home teams are in capital letters:




Mazatlan 4, JALISCO 3

(Attendance 13,811 at Estadio Panamericano, Guadalajara)

            Venados starter Casey Harman had a good outing, allowing one run over 4.1 innings while his counterpart, Jalisco opener Javier Solano, struggled in giving up four runs in 4.2 frames, including a two-run homer to Luis Jimenez in the top of the fourth. Ricardo Valenzuela doubled twice and drove in two runs for Mazatlan. The defending champioin Charros had three-hit nights from Julian Ornelas, Amadeo Zazueta and Agustin Murrillo.


Mexicali 7, MONTERREY 6

(Attendance 8,941 at Estadio Monterrey)

            Scott Schebler's two-run homer off Sultanes reliever Joe Riley in the top of the ninth gave the Aguilas their come-from-behind victory. Schebler, who hit 30 homers for Cincinnati in 2017, had two hits and a pair of runs for Mexicali, who also got three hits, two runs and an RBI from Leo Heras. Fernando Perez led Monterrey with a 2-for-4 night, including a two-run homer off Aguilas starter Eduardo Vera, and Gilberto Galaviz added two hits and two RBIs.


Guasave 3, CULIACAN 2

(Attendance 20,000 at Estadio Tomateros)

            Algodoneros starter Jeff Kinley, a reliever throughout a pro career that included five years in the Marlins system, tossed five shutout innings for the visitors while two solo homers from Orlando Pina and a solo bomb by Jorge Flores provided the scoring. Sebastian Elizalde, in his seventh winter with Culiacan after five in Hermosillo, hit a two-run single in the eighth off Brandon Koch to prevent a Tomateros shutout.




Culiacan 5, GUASAVE 2 (10)

(Attendance 6,226 at Estadio Francisco Carranza Limon)

            The Tomateros extracted a measure of revenge on Guasave by breaking open a 2-2 game in the top of the tenth, scoring three runs as Jesus Fabela's RBI triple broke the tie. Culiacan reliever Francisco Villegas then tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth to seal the win. Efren Navarro went 3-for-5 and hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into overtime. Guasave wasted seven shutout innings from starter Nico Tellache in the loss.


LOS MOCHIS 5, Navojoa 1

(Attendance 10,203 at Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada)

            This opener was tied at one run apiece until the bottom of the seventh, when the Caneros touched Mayos reliever Max Kuhns for four runs (including a two-run roundtripper by Lazaro Alfonso). Juan Gamez pitched a scoreless eighth and Conner Greene did likewise in the ninth for Los Mochis. Marco Jaime was 2-for-4 with two runs for the winners while Alan Espinoza's second-inning homer off Fabian Cota accounted for Navojoa's lone run.


HERMOSILLO 5, Obregon 4

(Attendance 16,073 at Estadio Sonora)

            The Yaquis held a 4-3 lead midway through the seventh until Nick Torres' solo homer off reliever Peyton Gray in the bottom of the frame knotted the score. Hermosillo won the game in the bottom of the ninth when Cesar Salazar drew a full-count walk, pinch-runner Angel Ramirez moved into scoring position on Jasson Atondo's sacrifice bunt and then scored the game-winner from second on a wild pitch by Felipe Gonzalez.




Hermosillo 7, OBREGON 1

(Attendance 15,982 at Estadio Yaquis)

            Things didn't get any better at home for Obregon, who were tied 1-1 until the top of the fourth, when the Naranjeros' Roberto Ramos poled a solo homer off Yaquis starter Mitch Lively to give the visitors a lead they built on the rest of the game. Ramos went on belt a second homer while Nick Torres went deep a second night in a row. Sebastian Valle's RBI double in the third gave Obregon their only run as Lively (5IP, 2R) took the loss.


NAVOJOA 8, Los Mochis 1

(Attendance 10,473 at Estadio Manuel “Ciclon” Echeverria)

            The Mayos put this one in their hip pockets early, chasing ex-Arizona starter Edgar Gonzalez with a six-run second inning that featured six hits, including a two-run double by Moises Gutierrez and a two-run single by newcomer Ian Sagdal, a three-time Organization All-Star while playing in the Washington system. Edgar Robles' sacrifice fly off winner Raul Carrillo (5IP, 1R) in the fourth brought Bruce Maxwell in for Los Mochis' sole score.


MEXICALI 15, Monterrey 3

(Attendance 10,402 at El Nido de los Aguilas)

            After Monterrey scored a run in the top of the first, the Aguilas plated three of their own in the bottom of the frame (as Anthony Giansanti contributed a two-run double) and went on to a 15-3 laugher over the Sultanes. Mexicali's six-run eighth saw 12 Eagles went to the plate, six of them driving in a run. Leo Heras went 4-for-4 with three runs and three ribbies as Mexicali had 22 hits, going 13-for-26 with runners in scoring position.




MAZATLAN 7, Jalisco 5

(Attendance 7,035 at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal)

            After winning three of four games in their opening series at Guadalajara, the Venados lifted their record to 4-1 Sunday in unusual fashion. A 5-5 tie was broken in the sixth when Jalisco reliever Luis Rodriguez balked Leo German home from third. Mazatlan got an insurance run in the eighth when a Randy Romero fly ball to right was muffed by Agustin Ruiz, allowing Daniel Castro to score from third on one of five Charros errors in the contest.





            On the heels of a Gold medal in 2018 and a Silver in 2021, Mexico's U-23 National Baseball Team and manager Enrique “Che” Reyes flew to Taiwan in the hopes of bring home more hardware from this month's World Baseball Softball Confederation U-23 Baseball Gold Cup. Mexico is in Group B of the 12-nation event along with Australia, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Cuba and The Netherlands.


            The tournament is the WBSC's third most important in terms of global rankings points, trailing only the World Baseball Classic and Premier12 event. Professional players are allowed in the U-23 World Cup under cooperation with organizations such as Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization and the Mexican League. Mexico entered the tournament ranked fourth in the world.


            Reyes' charges opened tournament play last Friday with a tight 3-2 win over #10 Australia in eight innings at Tianmu Baseball Stadium. Left fielder Angel Camacho delivered in  the clutch twice late for Mexico, first with a spectacular two-out catch of a deep Solomon Maguire fly ball in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on second to send the game into overtime. Then, in the top of the eighth as the lead tie-break runner, Camacho came in to score the go-ahead run on Javier Sanchez' single. Closer Nestor Anguamea held the Aussies scoreless in the bottom of the frame to save the win.


            Saturday's game against #3 South Korea in Taipei was postponed as all three games scheduled for Tianmu Stadium were rained out. They'll be made up on Wednesday before the Super and Placement rounds begin Thursday. The top three teams in each group will advance to the Super Round while both sets of bottom three contestants will do battle in the Placement Round to determine the 7th through 12th place teams.


Alemao Hernandez            Following their unexpected day off, the Mexicans put on what a WBSC story called a hitting and pitching clinic in a 4-0 shutout of The Netherlands (#8) at Dou-liu Stadium. Mexico starter Alemao Hernandez was superb over five innings, scattering three hits and striking out six Dutchmen for the win. Jose Reyes pitched a perfect sixth and Alan Mundo took care of the last three outs in the seventh. Mexico took the lead in the second when Oliver Carrillo singled and scored on Christopher Escarrega's RBI double to the right. Camacho's double to left plated Escarrega to make it 2-0 and the Mexicans never looked back.


            The two promising wins were followed by Monday's disappointing 3-2 loss in eight innings to #16 Puerto Rico. The game began as a pitcher's duel between between starters Bryan Marrero of Puerto Rico and Mexico's Jordan Suarez, who worked four scoreless innings in less than 45 minutes. The Boricuans broke the spell in the bottom of the fifth when Kenen Irizarry touched Suarez for a double and later scored on Glenn Santiago's single up the middle. Mexico knotted the score via the smallball route in the top of the sixth as Elmer Lopez singled, stole second, reached third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Camacho.


            The 1-1 score carried into the eighth, when Mexican lead tie-break runner Sanchez scored on an Osvaldo Barrios wild pitch. Closer Anguamea was two strikes away from the save but Puerto Rican DH Ricardo de la Torre sliced a blooper to center that Lopez had to chase after, scoring both tie-break runners to end a contest that deserved a far larger crowd than the 45 spectators dotting the 15,000 seats at Dou-liu Stadium.


            Mexico will only have a few hours to regroup before facing Cuba in Taipei's Tianmu Baseball Stadium at 10:00AM Tuesday local time. The time and venue for Wednesday's rainout makeup against South Korea have not been announced. Catcher Brandon Valenzuela leads Mexican regulars with a .333 batting average, two doubles and three RBIs as the team is batting just .183 after three games. Fortunately, the pitching has more than held up their end with a sparkling 0.91 ERA and allowing just 13 hits over 23 innings. Neither Hernandez nor any of the five relievers used have allowed an earned run thus far.





            After serving as a Mexican Pacific League training camp site as well as the primary facility of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta for over a decade, Tucson will host a three-game LMP regular season series at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium next month.


            The Mexicali Aguilas and Obregon Yaquis will square off for three games between Friday, November 11 and Sunday, November 13 in what will be the first time in the Mex Pac's decades-long history that the loop has played games that count in the standings outside Mexico. Mexicali will serve as home team for the series but both clubs and their fans have made the trek over the border crossing at Nogales and 63 miles north on Interstate 19 to the Old Pueblo ever since the Fiesta was first played in 2011.


Kino Stadium            Tucson was first represented in professional baseball whe the Old Pueblos were in the Class D Rio Grande Association in 1915 but the league folded that July. Tucson re-entered the play-for-pay ranks in 1928 with a team in another Class D loop, the Arizona State League, and would sporadically field clubs in six leagues (none above the Class C level) until both the Cowboys and Arizona-Mexico League folded after the 1958 season.


            The AAA Pacific Coast League Toros began play in 1969 and the PCL would stay in Tucson for 40 seasons. After the team was sold for $15 million and moved to Reno prior to the 2009 season, Tucson had a team in the independent Golden League for three years and returned to the PCL for a three-year stay as temporary home for the eventual El Paso Chihuahuas between 2011 and 2014. The Tucson Saguaros began play in the independent Pecos League in 2016, winning three pennants since and are now the current summer tenants at Kino Stadium. 


            Although the LMP has made no mention of Tucson as a potential franchise site, the city's metropolitan population of just over a million residents includes a 45 percent Hispanic demographic, a team there would be a natural league travel partner with Mexicali, Kino Stadium and its 11,500 seating capacity would be a good fit in the Mex Pac and new LMP president Carlos Manrique has made expanding his league's profile north of the border a priority. Many baseball teams in both Mexico and the USA have far less to build on.


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