By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Jan. 9, 2023
Wilmer Rios was dominant on the mound as Naranjeros de Hermosillo topped Venados de Mazatlan 3-1 to close out their quarterfinal series in the Liga ARCO de Mexican del Pacifico playoffs.
The Naranjeros, who finished first in the LAMP regular season, won the series that was delayed last week due to cartel violence in the Mexican state of Sinaloa following the arrest of drug kingpin Ovidio Guzman by Mexican authorities.
Naranjeros got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Alejandro Flores drove a single to left field and Isaac Paredes came in to score.
In the bottom of the sixth, with runners on first and second, Naranjeros’ Jasson Atondo placed a perfect sacrifice bunt attempt to the first base side, and as pitcher Casey Harman fielded the ball, he attempted to throw to first to get the sure out. Harman threw the ball over the first basemen’s head, allowing Irving Lopez and Flores would come around to score to make it 3-0.
Rios would be in full control during his start as he went 8.1 innings, striking out five batters, allowing six hits, no walks, and no earned runs. In the regular season, Rios had a stellar year for Naranjeros, going 9-2 with a 1.84 earned run average, striking out 46 batters, and allowing 10 walks during 83 innings pitched through 13 games.
In the the ninth, relief pitcher Thomas Mcllraith came in to to record the final two outs of the game to send his team to the semifinals. With the tying run at the plate, Mcllraith struck out the last two batters of the game, as he got Felix Perez and Luis Jimenez to shut the door and send Naranjeros to the semifinal series with a 3-1 victory.
Hermosillo star and Cuba World Baseball Classic outfielder Roel Santos played a key role for Naranjeros during the regular season, batting .303 in 58 games with two home runs and 18 runs batted in. Santos is looking to make the Cuban World Baseball Classic roster for the second time in his career. During the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, Santos played in six games, batting .318, with seven hits, and had two RBI. Santos could find in a huge role for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic.
Cuba’s potential number two starting pitcher for their rotation in the World Baseball Classic, Elian Leyva, had a great regular season and followed it up with two terrific pitching performances during the LAMP quarterfinals against Venados. Leyva during the regular season had a 7-3 record with a 2.44 ERA and struck out 55 batters in 10 games. Leyva last pitched in game five on Saturday night, going 5.2 innings and striking out three batters with no walks and one run earned run during his start. In game one, he went six innings, striking out three, allowing nine hits, and walking two.
Naranjeros awaits the winner of the series between Algodoneros de Guasave and Sultanes de Monterrey, with Game 7 tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST.