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03/10/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL Extra (Mexican Pro Baseball News)"

Second Round berth secured with 9-1 win

PHOENIX – All across Mexico, there are sighs of relief among the nation’s baseball fans. After Mexican teams came up short in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in November and the Caribbean Series in February, Mexico clobbered Canada 9-1 Thursday night at Chase Park to clinch a berth in the second round of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The win lifted the Tricolores into first place in the WBC Pool B standings with a 2-1 record, tied with the Canadians. After losing a 2-0 shutout to the USA in Tuesday’s opener, Mexico’s bats have exploded for 20 runs and 27 hits the last two nights in Arizona.

There was plenty of credit to go around the Mexican locker room after this one. A good place to begin would be starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who went into the sixth inning with a shutout. Although Loaiza gave way to Oliver Perez after allowing Canada’s only run, he earned the win in a contest that was never in doubt as three more relievers followed Perez to help nail down the four-hit victory. Loaiza finished with four strikeouts and only three hits allowed over 5+ innings of work.

Conversely, the Mexicans shelled Canadian starter Jeff Francis, plating four first-inning runs after Francis nailed Vinny Castilla with a pitch and then coughed up four consecutive doubles. Mexico chased the British Columbia native in the second when Jorge Cantu crunched his second homer in as many nights, a two-run bomb that put Mexico ahead 6-0 as Loaiza got enough offensive protection to allow him to toss pitches underhand with a six-foot arc if he so desired.

Cantu was one of six Mexican players with two hits for the game and finished with three RBI’s after singling in Luis Carlos Garcia in the top of the sixth with Mexico’s ninth and final run. Garcia, Erubiel Durazo, Geronimo Gil, Luis Alfonso Garcia and Miguel Ojeda all joined Cantu in the Two-Hit Club. Both of Luis C. Garica’s hits were doubles, and Mario Valenzuela smashed a solo homer in Mexico’s two-run fourth frame.

With the win, Mexico will move on to play in Sunday’s second round opening day day-night doubleheader in Anaheim against either Pool A champion South Korea or runners-up Japan. Tomorrow’s United States-South Africa game at 1PM in Scottsdale Stadium will determine whether the USA or Canada join the Mexico in the second round.

In all likelihood, however, the Mexican players, coaching staff and fans probably aren’t going to fret over that topic in celebrations across the country.

Mexico ………………….………………………….…………….. 4 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 - 9 14 0
Canada.………………………………………………………..... 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 4 2
WP-Esteban Loaiza. LP-Jeff Francis. HR-Jorge Cantu (M). A-15,744. T-3:00.

FRIDAY’S GAME: United States vs. South Africa, 1PM, Scottsdale Stadium

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