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MEX PAC TO OPEN 77TH WINTERBALL SEASON TUESDAY
The Mexican Pacific League is scheduled to begin its 2021-22 season with a trio pf games on Tuesday night. Jalisco will host Monterrey, Mazatlan will visit Culiacan and Hermosillo will be at home against Mexicali. In all, ten games will be played between Tuesday and Thursday as teams play home-and-away sets against league rivals, including Obregon against Navojoa as well as Los Mochis against Guasave. A full slate of five games is set for Saturday night.
As in the past, the Mex Pac regular season will be split into two halves, with the 32-game first half closing on Thursday, November 11 and the 36-game second half commencing one day later and concluding Thursday, December 23, about a week earlier than in previous seasons. The top eight teams will advance to the playoffs, which open on Christmas Day. After three stages of the postseason, the playoff champions will take a heavily-reinforced team to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the Caribbean Series between January 28 and February 3, 2022.
The Culiacan Tomateros are shooting for a third consecutive pennant and trip to the Serie del Caribe under manager Benji Gil. Defending batting champion Yadiel Hernandez will be back in Hermosillo hoping to follow up on his .339 average while home run (15) and RBI (52) kingpin Japhet Amador will try to do the same with the Jalisco Charros, who were set to announce the sale of the team to the owners of the Mexican League's Guadalajara Mariachis after front office squabbles and legal threats decimated what has been one of the LMP's flagship franchises.
Mexicali pitcher Miguel Pena has returned for another season in the border city after being awarded the LMP's ERA title last winter (2.08), as is veteran righty Javier Solano, who was second with a 2.60 figure. Strikeout champ Manny Barreda (64 K's) is expected back in Culiacan after making his MLB debut with Baltimore this summer while wins co-leaders Fernando Miranda and Juan Pablo Oramas (8 each) will both pitch another season of winterball in Guasave and Hermosillo, respectively.
SKY Sports will stream all regular season and playoff games live for a second season in a row this winter. Full season packages through the LMP championship series are available for US$69.99 via the Extrabase.TV prompt in the top right corner of the league website.
The following is a directory for the LMP and its ten member clubs in 2021-22, with most information taken from the Mex Pac website:
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Phone: (33) 38 17 07 68
President: Omar Canizales
Sports Director: Christian Veliz
Phone: (667) 758-3400
Sports Manager: Mario Valdez
Manager: Benji Gil
Home Stadium: Estadio Tomateros de Culiacan (21,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-325, CF-410, RF-325
LMP Championships: Twelve
Phone: (687) 138-4323
Sports Manager: Alejandro Ahumada
Manager: Oscar Robles
Home Stadium: Estadio Francisco Carranza Limon (10,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-320, CF-400 RF-325
LMP Championships: One
Phone: (662) 260-3932
Sports Director: Derek Bryant
Manager: Juan Navarrete
Home Stadium: Estadio Sonora (16,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-325, CF-400 RF-335
LMP Championships: Sixteen
Phone: (331) 562-0485
Sports Manager: Raymundo Padilla
Manager: Roberto Vizcarra
Home Stadium: Estadio Panamericano (16,500)
Field Dimensions: LF-335, CF-415, RF-335
LMP Championships: One
LOS MOCHIS CANEROS
Phone: (668) 818-6323
Sports Manager: Carlos Soto
Manager: Robinson Cancel
Home Stadium: Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada (12,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-320, CF-400, RF-320
LMP Championships: Three
Phone: (669) 981-1710
Sports Manager: Jesus Valdez Rodriguez
Manager: Eddie Diaz
Home Stadium: Estadio Teodoro Mariscal (16,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-325, CF-400, RF-330
LMP Championships: Nine
Phone: (686) 800-4000
Sports Manager: David Cardenas
Manager: Bronswell Patrick
Home Stadium: Estadio Aguilas de Mexicali (17,000)
Field Dimensions: LF-330, CF-400, RF-330
LMP Championships: Four
Phone: (812) 270-2000
Sports Manager: Jesus Valdez Diaz
Manager: Gerardo Alvarez
Home Stadium: Estadio be Beisbol Monterrey (21,906)
Field Dimensions: LF-320, CF-400, RF-320
LMP Championships: None
Phone: (642) 422-1433
Sports Manager: Lauro Villalobos
Manager: Lorenzo Bundy
Home Stadium: Estadio Manuel “Ciclon” Echeverria (11,500)
Field Dimensions: LF-318, CF-378, RF-318
LMP Championships: Two
Phone: (644) 413-7766
Sports Manager: Manuel Velez
Manager: Sergio Gastelum
Home Stadium: Estadio Yaquis (16,500)
Field Dimensions: LF-325, CF-400, RF-325
LMP Championships: Seven
VENEZUELA BOOTS MEXICO FOR U-23 BASEBALL WORLD CUP TITLE
Venezuela downed host Mexico, 4-0, on Saturday night at Estadio Sonora in Hermosillo to capture a U-23 World Championship in Hermosillo. Venezuelan starter Wikelman Ramirez tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits on the night. The 21-year-old right-hander struck out four and baffled Mexico’s hitters all night long.
Two runs in bottom of the first inning gave Venezuela an early lead. With two out and Carlos Rodriguez (whose leadoff single to center barely eluded a diving Fabricio Macias) standing on second base, a high pop fly to the right side of the infield by Romer Cuadrado ate Mexico second baseman Reivaj Garcia alive, clanking off Garcia's mitt into shallow right and allowing Rodriguez to score as Cuadrado carried his gift safely to second. Juan Fernandez then sliced a ground ball that handcuffed third baseman Keven Lamas to put runners at the corners for Justin Lopez, whose 3-and-2 single to right on the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Mexico's Saul Castellanos brought Cuadrado in with the second unearned run of the inning.
Venezuela's next two runs came in more straightforward fashion in the bottom of the third. Jesus Lujano led off with a double down the left-field line, moved to third on a Robert Perez groundout to Mexican shortstop Javier Salazar and scored on Cuadrado's sacrifice fly to Macias in center to bring the score to 3-0. The next batter, Fernandez, drilled Castellanos' second pitch for a homer that barely stayed fair as it passed the foul pole in left. A Lopez double ended the night for Castellanos but for all intent and purposes, the game was pretty much over by then. Ramirez only needed 86 pitches (60 of them strikes) to complete the shutout, scattering a double to Eric Meza and singles by Tirso Ornelas and Roque Salinas.
"The fact of playing in Mexico put too much pressure on these players," commented Mexico's manager Enrique “Che” Reyes after the loss. "It's a fact we didn't play well enough to beat Venezuela." Venezuela’s last international World Championship came in 2012 when its team finished first at the 15U Baseball World Championship. "It is really easy to work with these players," commented Venezuelan manager Carlos Garcia. "They came together, worked hard, stayed focused on our goal. And more than that, they enjoyed playing the game."
Mexico topped the first-round Group A standings with a 4-1 record after beating Germany, 3-1, last Monday to advance to the Super Round. Agustin Ruiz contributed a two-run double in the bottom of the first and starter Jorge Leo tossed four scoreless frames. After losing a 2-0 shutout to Panama and being thumped 7-1 by Venezuela, Mexico salvaged their Super Round stint with a 3-2 win over Colombia as Tirso Ornelas socked a homer in the bottom of the sixth and Robles Rabago tossed a scoreless seventh to seal the victory. Mexico advanced to the Gold Medal game by virtue of their aggregate 3-2 record against teams in the Super Round over the two stages of the tournament.
In the first game of Saturday's medal-round doubleheader, Colombia topped Cuba, 5-3, for the Bronze as Angel Angulo belted two homers and drove in three runs. Saturday night’s game during the first U-23 World Cup with the new seven inning format was played in just one hour and forty minutes.
One Mexican, shortstop Salazar, was named to the All-World team after batting .320 over eight games in the tournament. Colombia's leftfielder, Gustavo Camprero, was chosen as MVP for his .519 average and 11 runs scored during the event. Ornelas led Mexico by batting .370 (10-for-27) while hitting one of the host country's three World Cup homers (the other two were swatted by Macias and Lamas. Reliever Juan Robles won two of the five games Mexico won playing in Hermosillo and Obregon and was unscored upon in 6.1 innings over four appearances. Alejandro Chavez allowed no runs in two starts and 9.1 frames as the entire staff turned in a 1.92 ERA in nine games, but the batters (a collective .245) couldn't put anything together in the Gold Medal contest with Venezuela.
MEX PAC ROAD TRIP: Mexicali, Baja California Norte
Heading northwest from last week's starting point of Monterrey, we’ll make the second stop on our Mexican Pacific League Road Trip at the the border city of Mexicali, Baja California Norte, home of the LMP Aguilas and 936,826 metropolitan residents on Mexico’s northwestern border with California.
Historically, Mexicali is a fairly “recent” city, developed as a center for area farmers just over 100 years ago. After becoming the capital of Baja California Norte in 1915, it grew (like many Mexican border towns) as a place for North Americans to engage in illicit activity over the course of the 20th Century. The economy expanded in more legitimate directions as foreign companies established maquiladora factories in and around Mexicali. Maquiladoras are common in Mexican cities along the USA border, built primarily by North American companies who seek to take advantage of Mexico’s lower labor costs while having close access to the USA market. Maquiladoras have accounted for much of Mexicali’s burgeoning population. Across the border lies the twin city of Calexico, California. Both share a 24-hour border crossing.
While Mexicali is not the tourist draw Tijuana has become to the west, there are still some local points of interest. It has the Mexico’s largest Chinatown (La Chinesca) and there are a large number of shops and restaurants in a triangular area near the border. In the former state governor’s mansion (on Avenida Alvaro Obregon) lies the Galeria de la Ciudad, which displays works by many leading Mexican artists. Mexicali is also home to the University of Baja California, where a regional museum features exhibits of paleontology, archaeology, ethnography, landscape photography and missions of Baja California. The annual Fiesta del Sol in October is one of the year’s highlights.
Still, Mexicali is not a textbook example of a traveler’s paradise. It is very hot during the summer, gets temperatures below freezing level during the night in winter and in general is not tourist-oriented despite being one of the most prominent border crossings between the USA and Mexico. Millions of people have passed through Calexico to Mexicali, but few of them stay overnight.
Mexicali’s baseball team is called the Aguilas, or “Eagles.” The Aguilas were formed in 1976 and are in their 45th winter in the MexPac, having won four LMP pennants and a Caribbean Series championship in 1986 under legendary manager Ben “Cananea” Reyes. Their home stadium, known officially as Estadio Aguilas de Mexicali (and informally as El Nido, or “The Nest”), seats 17,000 fans around a symmetrical field measuring 330 feet down the foul lines and 400 feet to straightaway center. Mexicali hosted the 2009 Caribbean Series, becoming the northernmost city in which the tournament has ever been held.