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10/23/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL: Venados opening win streak ends at seven"

Game in Hermosillo suspended after fan joins action on field

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MAZATLAN - It’s as though last February never happened. The Mazatlan Venados entered the second month of 2006 fresh on the heels of their second consecutive Mexican Pacific League championship with their eyes on a similar repeat victory in the Caribbean Series played in Venezuela. Unfortunately, the Deer froze in the spotlights.

The Venados were winless in six CS games, a hard pill to swallow for the defending Series champs, although they were in contention in most of those games. While the club immediately broke up as players scattered across Mexico and the United States to play for their respective summer teams, there is little doubt that Mazatlan’s embarrassing performance gave most Venados players a strong desire to come back to the Pacific coast city in October and reestablish their Mex Pac supremacy. Boy, have they ever!

The Venados reeled off seven straight victories out the gate to build an early lead in the LMP standing before thudding to earth last Thursday with an 11-1 drubbing at the hand of the Los Mochis Caneros. The Caneros were led offensively by Justin Christian and Jose Ortiz, who each belted a pair of homers in the getaway contest of the three-game series between the two teams. The following night, Mazatlan got back on track with a three-game weekend sweep of Obregon, including a pair of 2-1 wins over the Yaquis featuring a series-opening knucklebiter as Venados starter Andy Sisco turned in five scoreless innings of two-hit pitching.

With the exception of the loss to Mochis, Mazatlan has benefited from some strong pitching performances and a little luck. They slipped past the Caneros last Tuesday 2-1 as Raul Sanchez scored the game-winning run on an error in the tenth inning; and followed up with a 6-2 victory thanks in large part to pitcher Pablo Ortega, who allowed only two runs and struck out six batters in six innings of work. Two weeks into the LMP season, the Venados appear to be the class of the league, although it’s far too early to concede anything.

While Mazatlan has played some attractive baseball to start the season, the word “attractive” can’t be applied to Hermosillo’s 20-9 pounding of Navojoa last Thursday at Hector Espino Stadium. Although the score was bad enough, the game was suspended in the bottom of the eighth inning after a half-naked fan ran on to the field and was tackled by Mayos first baseman Jesse Gutierrez. The Hermosillo fans responded by throwing objects onto the field, and when Navojoa manager Mario Mendoza pulled his team off the field for their safety, umpires called the game with a inning to go. LMP president Ing. Renato Vega Alvarado issued a reprimand to the Naranjeros for failing to control the crowd and a similar letter was sent to the Mayos for vacating the field, but no penalties were levied against either team.

As we’ve said before here: Winter baseball is not a casual thing in Mexico.

STANDINGS as of October 23
10-1 Mazatlan Venados
7-4 Los Mochis Caneros
6-5 Hermosillo Naranjeros
5-6 Navojoa Mayos
5-6 Obregon Yaquis
5-6 Mexicali Aguilas
3-7 Culiacan Tomateros
2-8 Guasave Algodoneros


Mexicali 8, Obregon 5 (MXI-Jesse Castillo and Christian Presichi had 3 hits apiece)
Culiacan 6, Guasave 3 (CUL-Ben Francisco, Adan Amezcua and Adan Munoz all hit homers)
Navojoa 15, Hermosillo 4 (NAV-Jose Amador went 3-3 with homer and 4 RBIs)
Mazatlan 2, Los Mochis 1 (MAZ-Raul Sanchez scored game-winning run on error in 10th)

Obregon 8, Mexicali 0 (OBR-Joakim Soria allowed 2 hits in 7 innings pitched)
Culiacan 7, Guasave 4 (CUL-Starter Brian Bannister allowed 2 runs in 5 innings)
Hermosillo 9, Navojoa 7 (HMO-Third baseman Brian Barden clobbered 2 home runs)
Mazatlan 6, Los Mochis 2 (MAZ-Pablo Ortega pitched 5 innings of 2-run ball)

Obregon 6, Mexicali 5 (OBR-Kit Pellow hit a game-winning 2-run homer in bottom of 9th)
Culiacan 4, Guasave 4 (Game suspended after 10 innings due to midnight curfew)
Hermosillo 20, Navojoa 9 (HMO-Erubiel Durazo belted his 3rd HR of season)
Los Mochis 11, Mazatlan 1 (MOC-Justin Christian and Jose Ortiz both hit 2-run HRs)

Mazatlan 2, Obregon 1 (MAZ-Pitcher Andy Sisco allowed 0 runs and 2 hits in 5 innings)
Hermosillo 6, Guasave 5 (HMO-Catcher Geronimo Gil swatted a grand slam homer)
Navojoa 9, Culiacan 7 (NAV-Jose Amador batted 3-3 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs)

Mazatlan 2, Obregon 1 (MAZ-Walter Silva tossed 2-hit shutout over 6 innings)
Hermosillo 15, Guasave 2 (HMO-Brian Barden knocked out a 3-run homer)
Navojoa 8, Culiacan 6 (NAV-Roberto Mendez belted a 3-run homer)
Mexicali 10, Los Mochis 5 (MXI-Javier Robles clubbed a 3-run homer)

Mazatlan 8, Obregon 4 (MAZ-Roberto Saucedo whacked a 3-run homer)
Guasave 15, Hermosillo 3 (GUA-Mario Valenzuela hit a 3-run homer)
Culiacan 7, Navojoa 6, (CUL-Ben Francisco went 2-5 with a double and scored 3 runs)
Los Mochis 5, Mexicali 3 (MXI-Fernando Valenzuela Jr. hit his first homer)
Los Mochis 4, Mexicali 3 (MOC-Jose Ortiz hit his 6th HR of the season, and second of day)

Mexicali at Culiacan, Hermosillo at Mazatlan, Guasave at Los Mochis, Navojoa at Obregon
Obregon at Los Mochis, Navojoa at Mexicali, Culiacan at Hermosillo, Mazatlan at Guasave

Minor winter leagues begin 2006-07 campaign

Both of Mexico’s minor winter leagues have opened their respective seasons. The six-team Liga Noroeste, or Northwestern League, is located south of Mazatlan in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit; while the Liga Academia, or Academy League, consists of six teams quartered in the National Baseball Academy near Monterrey. Neither circuit is a member of Minor League Baseball, but both are affiliated with the Mexican League. While the LMB is a Class AAA league, the Liga Noroeste is considered Class AA in Mexico and the Liga Academia has Class A status.

The Liga Noroeste began play Saturday with openers of the inaugural two-game, home-and-away series that are popular in Mexico. Teams play 62-games schedules split into two halves during the regular season through December 31, with the top four point-getters advancing to the January playoffs. Similar to other Mexican leagues, the Northwestern League awards eight points to the champion of each half, with point totals gradually dropping down to three for the team that finishes sixth and last. Mexico’s other Class AA league, the Liga Norte de Sonora (or North Sonora League), plays during the late spring and early summer.

The Academy League is similar to the Gulf Coast and Arizona Rookie Leagues, with the country’s top young prospects living and playing at a complex near Monterrey. Unlike the two North American rookie leagues, the Liga Academia offers centralized instruction and housing for all the players, although the players are assigned to six teams sponsored by twelve LMB clubs. It is somewhat similar to the old Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy of the 1970’s, which produced former all-star second baseman Frank White. The Academy League plays both winter and summer schedules, and its players are subject to an annual draft among Liga Mexicana teams even though LMB teams sponsor individual Academia squads.

Mexican League announces postseason honors

MEXICO CITY – The Mexican League has named Mendy Lopez of the Monterrey Sultanes as its 2006 Most Valuable Player. Lopez, who hit .363 and cracked 30 homers and drove in 94 runs in 99 games while registering a 28-game hitting streak, was one of six players to earn postseason honors from the Liga. Lopez, who was a linchpin in the Sultanes’ outstanding regular season and playoff run to the finals, beat out a strong field of candidates, including Tijuana’s Derrick White, who led the LMB with a .407 average. White is playing this winter for Mexicali.

Tijuana’s Hugo Castellanos was a somewhat curious choice as Pitcher of the Year. While the Potros hurler certainly had a good season with a 6-0 record, 3.17 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 111 innings, it’s hard to see how he did better than the 13 other pitchers who reached double figures in wins, including Oaxaca’s Carlos Elizalde, who deserved strong consideration after posting a record of 13-7 with a 3.33 ERA.

There was little doubt about Jose Vargas’ selection as Reliever of the Year. Vargas was one of Yucatan’s playoff heroes as the Leones copped their first LMB pennant since 1984, and the regular season set the stage for his postseason dominance as Vargas was 6-4 with a Liga-leading 27 saves and a sparkling 1.36 ERA.

Despite being sent from Yucatan to Tijuana during the season, right-handed pitcher Salvador Rodriguez did well enough to be named Comeback Player of the Year. Rodriguez, who spent time as a spot starter and a middle reliever in 2006, went 7-3 with a 4.86 ERA after missing the entire 2004 and 2005 seasons with injuries.

Finally, Monclova outfielder Ivan Terrazas was named Rookie Player of the Year and Mexico City’s Salvador Robles received Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors. Terrazas hit .338 with 13 homers and 80 runs scored while leading the Acereros in several offensive categories; Robles was a prime reason the Diablos Rojos were the top playoff seed in the LMB South by turning in an 11-4 record with a solid 3.21 ERA, no easy task in the capital city’s thin air.


Viva Beisbol’s “Maestros of Mexico” series of profiles on former baseball greats in and from Mexico will be featured weekly on two baseball-oriented websites throughout 2007. Both and will carry “Maestros” every Friday for 52 weeks next year, beginning with a profile of Hector Espino on January 5. The series ran on Viva Beisbol from our third issue until being discontinued earlier this month.

Here are the 52 players who will be profiled on “Maestros” next year, including 12 that have never previously appeared in Viva Beisbol: Teo Acosta, Mel Almada, Ruben Amaro, Ramon Arano, Roberto Avila, Andy Ayon, Salome Barojas, Nelson Barrera, Francisco Barrios, Ramon Bragana, George Brunet, Nick Castaneda, Vinny Castilla, Jimmie Collins, Ray Dandridge, Martin Dihigo, Hector Espino, Francisco Estrada, Miguel Fernandez, Cornelio Garcia, Pilo Gaspar, Chile Gomez, Arturo Gonzalez, Teddy Higuera, Houston Jimenez, Maximino Leon, Aurelio Lopez, Minnie Minoso, Andres Mora, Angel Moreno, Juan Navarrete, Jorge Orta, Alfredo Ortiz, Roberto Ortiz, Jose Pena, Alonso Perry, Jack Pierce, Al Pinkston, Antonio Pollorena, Cananea Reyes, Aurelio Rodriguez, Oscar Rodriguez, Vicente Romo, Lazaro Salazar, Celerino Sanchez, Jesus Sommers, Carlos Soto, Miguel Suarez, Epitacio Torres, Hector Torres, Ismael Valdes and Fernando Valenzuela.

In addition, each profile will be added to within a week of being posted on Baseball Guru and OurSports Central. Other websites featuring “Maestros of Mexico” may be added before January.

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