Parque La Junta is one of two homes of the Tecolotes de Los Dos Laredos. (Photo: Leif Skodnick/World Baseball Network)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
And then there were four.
After two rounds of playoffs in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, the Tecolotes de Los Dos Laredos and the Algodoneros de Union Laguna will play for the Zona Norte title, while the Pericos de Puebla and the Leones de Yucatan will play for the Zona Sur title. Each series will be seven games, with the winners going to the Serie Del Rey, the best-of-seven championship series.
Serie Campeonato del Zona Norte
Algodoneros de Union Laguna (49-40 Regular Season)
Manager – Ramon Orantes (Career: 195-234)
How they got here: The Algodoneros finished fourth in the Zona Norte during the regular season, then defeated the Sultanes de Monterrey four games to three in the first round of the playoffs. They followed that with a four games to one triumph over the Toros de Tijuana to earn a berth in the Serie Campeonato.
Union Laguna has a balanced offense, with six players batting over .300 in the playoffs. First baseman J.C. Escarra leads the club with four homers and 10 RBI in the postseason, while right fielder Nicholas Torres has scored 11 runs in 12 games. On the mound, former Los Angeles Angel and Chicago Cub Jake Jewell has a 0.00 ERA through 10.1 innings of work, while Jose Torres has a WHIP of 0.77 and an ERA of 1.54.
Tecolotes de Los Dos Laredos (50-36 Regular Season)
Manager – Felix Fermin (Career: 710-598)
How they got here: The Tecos finished atop the Zona Norte and swept Monclova in the first round of the playoffs.The advanced to the Serie Campeonato by defeating Monterrey four games to two in the second round.
The strength of the Tecos is two-fold: they have a strong offense and a tough bullpen. Henry Gatewood’s five home runs and 15 RBI have powered the Tecos, and they’ve also gotten big contributions from Danry Vasquez (10 RBI) and Balbino Fuenmayor (10 RBI). Out of the bullpen, former Mets farmhand Anthony Vizcaya has a 1.00 ERA through nine innings of work in the playoffs with a WHIP of 0.78, while Sam Bordner has a 0.48 WHIP in 10.1 innings. Closer Geoff Broussard has three saves, a 2.57 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
Zone Norte Serie Campeonato Schedule
August 29 – Union Laguna at Dos Laredos – 9:05 p.m. EDT
August 30 – Union Laguna at Dos Laredos – 9:05 p.m. EDT
September 1 – Dos Laredos at Union Laguna – 10 p.m. EDT
September 2 – Dos Laredos at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT
September 3 – Dos Laredos at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT*
September 5 – Union Laguna at Dos Laredos – 9:05 p.m. EDT*
September 6 – Union Laguna at Dos Laredos – 9:05 p.m. EDT*
* – If Necessary
Serie Campeonato del Zona Sur
Leones de Yucatan
Manager – Roberto Vizcarra (Career: 369-327)
How they got here: The defending Serie Del Rey champions finished fifth in the regular season, but got hot in the playoffs, knocking off second seed Tabasco four games to one in the first round. They eliminated El Aguila de Veracruz four games to one to advance to the Serie Campeonato.
Shortstop Luis Sardinas has been hotter than salsa picante during the playoffs, batting .441/.548/.706 with a 1.254 OPS, three homers and 10 RBI. The Leones offense relies on Sardinas and right fielder Anthony Garcia, the only two players in the lineup batting over .300. Former Major Leaguer Felix Doubront has a 1.80 ERA through 15 innings of work in three games, with a WHIP of 1.07 and 13 strikeouts.
Pericos de Puebla
Manager – Sergio Gastélum (Career: 157-171)
How they got here: The Pericos finished fourth in the Zona Sur during the regular season, then defeated El Aguila de Veracruz four games to three in the first round. They topped the Diablos Rojos de Mexico four games to two to advance to the Serie Campeonato.
Former Met and Oriole Gabriel Ynoa has been stellar through the postseason for the Pericos, throwing 18.1 innings with a 1.47 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93, but hasn’t gotten a decision yet. Roel Ramirez, Victor Villalobos and Elkin Alcala have eaten innings out of the bullpen for Puebla. If Puebla advances to the Serie Del Rey, it will be on the strength of their pitching – their offense is averaging 10 strikeouts per game during the postseason, and doesn’t have a single regular player hitting over .300.
Zone Sur Serie Campeonato Schedule
August 28 – Puebla at Yucatan – 9:30 p.m. EDT
August 29 – Puebla at Yucatan – 9:30 p.m. EDT
August 31 – Yucatan at Puebla – 9 p.m. EDT
September 1 – Yucatan at Puebla – 9 p.m. EDT
September 2 – Yucatan at Puebla – 6 p.m. EDT*
September 4 – Puebla at Yucatan – 9:30 p.m. EDT*
September 5 – Puebla at Yucatan – 9:30 p.m. EDT*
* – If Necessary