MEXICO – It didn’t take long for Obregon to move into the semifinals of the Mexican Pacific League playoffs. The Yaquis split their first two games at home against Mexicali before taking three wins in a row on the road in the Eagles’ Nest to close out their series, 4 games to 1.
Former big leaguer Dan Serafini was sharp for Mexicali in the opener, holding Obregon to two hits in eight innings as the Aguilas blanked the Yaquis, 6-0, on January 2. It was to be the only win for the borderites in the series as Obregon came back to outscore the league’s best-hitting team in the regular season by a 32-18 margin over the next four games to bounce the Aguilas from the playoffs.
After Flavio Romero drove in three runs in the Yaquis’ series-tying 9-5 win, Carlos Valencia hit a three-run homer in Game 3 to put the Yaquis ahead in the series, a five-run second inning in Game 4 keyed by homers from Victor Diaz and Iker Franco led to a 6-2 Obregon win, and Erubiel Durazo conked a homer, scored three runs and drove in three to aid the Yaquis’ 14-9 clincher last Thursday.
By losing in five games, Mexicali is out as a contender for a wild card slot in the semis.
MAYOS WIN TWO STRAIGHT TO HOLD OFF PLAYOFF OUSTER
After three games, it looked like all the Hermosillo Naranjeros had to do was show up to knock out Navojoa and move into the second round. Instead, the Mayos won two straight games to make a fight out of this series, which shifts back to Hermosillo this weekend.
Hermosillo won the opener at home by a 4-3 score as Humberto Cota knocked out a two-run homer to support starter Edgar Gonzalez, then followed with a 3-2 win behind seven innings of one-run pitching by Travis Blackley. After the Naranjeros beat the Mayos, 12-7, in Navojoa as Cota smashed three homers, the regular season champs held a 3-0 series lead.
The Mayos clawed back with a pair of wins, bopping Hermosillo, 9-5, last Wednesday and taking an 8-3 win on Thursday. Amaury Cazana hit a grand slam in Game 4, while Raul Lopez knocked out a three-run bomb in Game 5. After scoring just five runs in the two games on the road, the normally light-hitting Mayos exploded for 24 runs in three games at home.
MAZATLAN-CULIACAN SERIES COMES DOWN TO THIS WEEKEND
After shutting out the potent Culiacan Tomateros the first two games at home, the Mazatlan Venados stumbled and lost two of three road games with their bitter rivals to the north.
Pablo Ortega went all the way in Mazatlan’s opening 1-0 win January 2 as shortstop Heber Gomez scored the game’s only run. Esteban Loaiza then turned in seven innings of scoreless ball as the Venados whitewashed Culiacan, 3-0, the next evening.
The Tomateros rebounded to win twice in three tries in Culiacan. Arnold Leon took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Culiacan held on for an 8-6 Game 3 win. Mazaltan came back to crunch the hosts, 10-2, last Wednesday as Christian Quintero collected four hits and three RBIs for the defending champs, but Culiacan closed the series gap Thursday night with a 4-1 victory as starter Hector Rodriguez let in one run in seven innings while Mike Cervenak was 2-for-4 with a homer and two runs after signing a 2010 contract with the New York Mets last week.
Games 6 and 7 (if needed) are scheduled this weekend in Mazatlan.
LMP PRESIDENT SEEKS 3-YEAR WINTER BAN FOR McDONALD, WATSON
Mexican Pacific League president Omar Canizales has requested a three-year ban from Caribbean winter baseball for former Hermosillo Tomateros players Darnell McDonald and Brandon Watson. Canizales recently filed his request with Caribbean Baseball Confederation president Juan Francisco Puello.
McDonald and Watson were both starting outfielders for Hermosillo when they left the team without notice three weeks into the current season. McDonald was second in the Mex Pac with a .378 batting average after 19 games at the time, adding six homers and 20 RBIs over that span. Watson was batting.276 for the Naranjeros and was leading the league with eight stolen bases.
The two abandoned the team hours after a 4-3 win over Mexicali in which McDonald had belted a homer. At the time, according to Puro Beisbol, Hermosillo manager Homar Rojas said he was not told McDonald and Watson were leaving, but it’s since been rumored the two players were demanding extra performance-based bonuses prior to their departure.
Last year, the Confederation granted Canizales’ request for a three-year banishment from Caribbean baseball of current Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Casey McGehee, who left the Culiacan Tomateros without notice in 2008.
SANTIAGO WINS NOROESTE CROWN, BUSANI NAMED PLAYOFF MVP
The Mexican Northwest League pennant has been won by the surprising Santiago Tabaqueros, who defeated the regular season titleholder Tepic Diablos Rojos in five games in their best-4-of-7 championship series.
After finishing the regular season with a league-best 43-17 record, defending champion Tepic swept Compostela in three straight games to win their first round series. Santiago finished third with a 32-27 record in the regular season before upsetting 40-20 Tuxpan in a first round sweep. The Tobacconists won the finals, 4 games to 1, capping the season with a 5-4 home win over Tepic on January 5 when Franky Busani drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The burly Busani was named the series MVP. The 6’4” 235-pound Busani batted .329 for Santiago during the regular season, and led the Liga Noroeste with 12 homers and 34 RBIs. The 23-year-old Sonora-born Busani, who went to high school in Arizona and played collegiately in the United States, hit 39 homers with 144 RBIs in 401 at-bats over his last two seasons of college ball in 2008 and 2009.
Bruce Baskin is Editor/Producer of BASEBALL MEXICO.
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