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11/20/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL: Hermosillo wins LMP first half crown"

by Bruce Baskin

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HERMOSILLO Ė Despite posting a 2-4 record last week in which they suffered a three-game series sweep at the hands of the Culiacan Tomateros, the Hermosillo Naranjeros were able to barely hold on to the Mexican Pacific League leadership when the first half of the 2006-07 season ended Sunday and pick up eight points for their effort. The Orangemen nudged out Obregon by just a half-game in the standings as the Yaquis dropped two of three games against Los Mochis past weekend.

Hermosillo was able to clinch first place Saturday night despite absorbing a 4-1 loss to Brian Bannister and the Tomateros because Obregonís 4-3 loss to the Caneros was enough to assure the Naranjeros the first half flag. Saul Soto, who clubbed a grand slam Thursday night in Los Mochisí 13-5 drubbing of Mexicali, had the key blow for the Caneros Saturday with a two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning.

The Naranjeros featured a potent offense in the first half led by the 1-2 punch of Erubiel Durazo and Juan Carlos Canizalez, and the strong pitching of Les Walrond and Lee Gardner. Durazo, a former Oakland Athletics first baseman trying to work his way back to the big leagues, is hitting .374 with 10 homers and 28 RBIís, all tops for Hermosillo. Canizalez, the defending LMP bat champion, is tied for fifth with Mexicaliís Carlos Sievers in the batting race with a .352 average. Walrond, a Cubs farmhand, is tied with Obregonís Joakim Soria with a league-best five wins; while the 31-year-old Gardner is augmenting a 30-save season for Detroitís AAA farm club in Toledo last summer with 10 saves thus far this winter for Hermosillo.

The hottest team at the end of the opening half was Culiacan, who was playing tepid baseball before the arrival last weekend of outfielder Karim Garcia after a season in Japan. Garcia belted four homers in his first five games for the Tomateros as Culiacan went 5-1 last week, including that sweep over Hermosillo. Another strong factor for the Tomato Growers has been major league vet Ruben Rivera, who is leading the LMP with 12 homers over 33 games. On the mound, Jorge Campillo has been solid. Campillo skipped last winter to recuperate from arm surgery after a 10-1 year in 2005-06, but appears to be his old self after tossing seven shutout innings Sunday against the Naranjeros to lift his record to 3-2 and lower his ERA to 3.07.

Los Mochis had a good week, winning four of six games. 42-year-old Ramon Orantes is leading the MexPac in hitting with a .382 average after turning in a .351 mark for Monterrey last summer. Closer Maximo De La Rosa, who had an outstanding summer pitching with Orantes and the Sultanes (turning in a 6-2 record with 26 saves and a 2.13 ERA), has not allowed a run in 15 appearances for the Caneros thus far. Los Mochis is said to be considering bringing in vet infielder Pat OíSullivan, who hit .353 with 16 homers for San Luis in the LMB last summer.

Meanwhile, tough times in Mexicali just got tougher as starter Justin Hampson (2-1/2.68) was shelved with elbow miseries. Humberto Cardenas (1-2/10.80) returned to the Aguilas by swapping his place on the disabled list with Hampson.

21-13 Hermosillo Naranjeros (8.0)
21-14 Obregon Yaquis (7.0)
20-14 Mazatlan Venados (6.0)
18-17 Navojoa Mayos (5.0)
16-19 Los Mochis Caneros (4.5)
15-18 Culiacan Tomateros (4.0)
15-19 Mexicali Aguilas (3.5)
11-23 Guasave Algodoneros (3.0)

RESULTS of games from NOVEMBER 14 through NOVEMBER 19

Hermosillo 12, Guasave 9 (HMO-Luis Alfonso Garcia and Erubiel Durazo both hit 3-run homers)
Los Mochis 3, Mexicali 1 (MOC-Victor Bojorquez swatted a pair of solo homers for Mochis)
Obregon 13, Mazatlan 3 (OBR-Andy Tracy stroked 2 doubles and drove in 3 runs)
Culiacan 11, Navojoa 3 (CUL-Karim Garcia singed and homered in Tomateros debut)

Hermosillo 4, Guasave 1 (HMO-Ignacio Montano allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 7.2 innings pitched)
Mexicali 5, Los Mochis 4 (MXI-Fernando Valenzuela tossed 5 frames to go to 3-0 on season)
Obregon 10, Mazatlan 7 (OBR-Recent signee Luis Carlos Garcia had a 4-for-5 night at the plate)
Navojoa 4, Culiacan 1 (NAV-Tom Shearn scattered 9 hits and struck out 7 in complete game)

Guasave 3, Hermosillo 0 (GSV-Eduardo Arredondo sliced two RBI singles to avoid sweep)
Los Mochis 13, Mexicali 5 (MOC-Saul Soto grand slam keyed a 7-run 6th inning)
Mazatlan 9, Obregon 7 (MAZ- Ryan Doumit whacked a 3-run roundtripper for Venados)
Culiacan 6, Navojoa 5 (CUL-Closer Joe Valentine retired 4 of last 5 Mayo batters for save)

Mazatlan 5, Guasave 1 (MAX-Dionys Cesar hit a 3-run double in decisive 4th inning)
Navojoa 6, Mexicali 2 (NAV-Oscar Rivera went to 4-1 by allowing 2 runs in 7 innings)
Culiacan 4, Hermosillo 1 (CUL-Brian Bannister tossed 7 entradas of 1-run, 5-hit ball)
Los Mochis 6, Obregon 3 (MOC-Starter Rafael Diaz got win, let in 3 runs in 7 frames)

Guasave 3, Mazatlan 2 (GSV-Spike Lundberg scattered 12 hits and 2 runs over 8 frames)
Navojoa 10, Mexicali 4 (NAV-Luis Alfonso Cruz hit 3-run homer in Mayosí 6-run 4th inning)
Culiacan 9, Hermosillo 6 (CUL-Karim Garcia blasted 4th homer in 5 games for Tomateros)
Los Mochis 4, Obregon 3 (MOC-Saul Soto cracked 2-run homer in 3-run 9th for Caneros)

Mazatlan 2, Guasave 1 (MAZ-Edgar Gonzalez hit go-ahead RBI triple in 6th inning)
Mexicali 4, Navojoa 1 (MXI-Juan Quintanilla allowed 1 run in 8 innings pitched with no walks)
Culiacan 2, Hermosillo 1 (CUL-Jorge Campillo pitched seven shutout innings with 9 Kís)
Obregon 11, Los Mochis 1 (OBR-Andy Tracy hit a double and a home run for Yaquis)

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

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

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