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08/28/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL: CINDERELLA PUTS ON THE GLASS SLIPPER"
Leones win LMB title on 14th inning homer
MERIDA It took until well after midnight, but Cinderella eventually got to don the glass slipper as the unheralded Yucatan Leones rode a Jesus Castillo homer in the bottom of the 14th inning to outlast the Monterrey Sultanes 2-1 to win the Mexican League championship series, 4 games to 1. Yucatan was the fourth and final playoff qualifier from the LMB South, and nobody expected much from the Leones. However, Yucatan eliminated the regular season South Division champion Mexico City Red Devils and the defending Liga champion Angelopolis Tigres to meet up with Monterrey, who cruised to the LMB North title with the best season record in the league and then went 8-2 in the playoffs to reach the finals. After winning the first game of the series last Tuesday, Monterrey dropped four straight games (including the last thee in Yucatan) as the Leones won the finals 4 games to 1 for their first pennant since 1984.
The three-game weekend set at Parque Kukulkan opened Friday night when the Leones registered a surprising 3-1 win over the Sultanes in front of 12,006 fans. The surprise was that starter Eduardo Salgado was the primary author of the combined five-hitter by tossing 6.2 innings of shutout ball. Acquired from Aguascalientes late in the season, Salgado had been rocked regularly whether hurling for the Rieleros or Leones, ending the regular season with a 4-9 record and a 7.17 ERA. After posting an 0-3 record following the trade to Yucatan and losing another game in the playoffs, Fridays win was the 32-year-old Salgados first in a Leones jersey. The lone Sultanes run was scored in the top of the eighth inning when left fielder Edgar Quintero jacked a leadoff solo homer off reliever David Dominguez. Yucatan scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the third, the top knock being a two-run single by shortstop Luis Borges.
The Leones followed up with another victory Saturday, this time by a 4-1 count. Yucatan starter William Vizcarra followed on the heels of Salgados strong outing with one of his own, scattering two hits and three walks over five shutout innings, holding the powerful Sultanes lineup hitless from the second through the fifth. Lions outfielder Raul Sanchez broke open a scoreless tie by blasting a three-run homer off Monterrey starter Juan Acevedo, who took the loss. Yucatan closer Jose Vargas, who struck out the last two Sultanes batters to cinch the win Friday night, induced the final four Monterrey outs Saturday for his fourth postseason save in front of 12,306 onlookers.
Finally, on Sunday, fans were treated to an old-fashioned pitchers duel as the teams took a 1-1 game into overtime. Monterrey scored their first run in the top of the second when Luis Alfonso Garcia singled, followed by another safety by Ramon Orantes which Yucatan center fielder Donzell McDonald misplayed, allowing Garcia to advance to third. Francisco Mendes single to right then plated Garcia. Yucatan replied in the bottom of the frame when speedy Willie Romero tied the game by scoring on Raul Sanchez sacrifice fly to right field. Leones starter Oscar Perfecto Rivera, no stranger to big games, pitched well in this one by scattering six hits and striking out eight Sultanes in seven innings. Monterrey opener Felix Heredia was also sharp with a two-hit performance in five-plus innings of work. Vargas came in once again for Yucatan and tossed four shutout innings to set up Castillos one-out homer off loser Miguel Rubio. Vargas got the win to end with a 4-0 record in the postseason.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 25, 2006 at Merida
Monterrey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 5 0 LP-A Aceves
Yucatan 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 X - 3 7 0 WP-E Salgado
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2006 at Merida
Monterrey .. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 4 2 LP-J Acevedo
Yucatan .. 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 X - 4 7 0 WP-W Vizcarra
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2006 at Merida
Monterrey 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 9 3 LP-M Rubio
Yucatan . 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 2 8 2 WP-J Vargas
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