The Rieleros (Railroaders) de Aguascalientes (52-38) defeated the Bravos de León (34-50) 8-7 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on July 16.
It took over four hours to play this game. Neither of the starting pitchers got through the third inning. The Rieleros used eight pitchers, and the Bravos used seven, despite the fact that both bullpens were depleted by the double-header the previous day.
This game was close all the way. The winning run came on an RBI single by 1B Jesus Castillo in the top of the sixth inning, and it put the Rieleros ahead 8-6. The Bravos stranded a baserunner on third in the bottom of the seventh. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, 2B Gilberto Mejia hit a ball down the right-field line to the fence that was just foul. A couple of pitches later, he hit a ball down the left-field line that was almost to the fence, and just fair, but it was caught by LF Amilcar Gomez for the second out. However, the next batter, CF Junior Lake, was hit by a pitch, and he went to second on defensive indifference. Lake then scored on a single by 1B Dan Johnson, and it was a one-run ball game. However, DH Carlos Valencia, after a long turn at bat, flied out, ending the game.
The Bravos got off to a good start. They ended the top of the first with a double play. LF Eduardo Arredondo led off the bottom of the first with a single. Mejia followed with a double, and Arredondo scored on a ground out by Lake. Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to score Mejia.
The Rieleros answered with a two-run home run by 3B Jose Vargas in the top of the second. They took the lead for the first time on a two-RBI double by Castillo in the third. The Bravos took a 5-4 lead on a three-run home run by Johnson in the bottom of the third.
Each team got a run in the fourth; C Carlos Rodriguez scored for the Rieleros on a ground out by RF Dave Sappelt, and Mejia hit an RBI single for the Bravos. However, both teams missed chances to do more damage. The Rieleros stranded runners at third and first, partially the result of a big strikeout of SS Richy Pedroza by RHP Alfonso Sanchez. The Bravos’ half of the inning ended when Mejia was picked off by a throw by Rodriguez. The Rieleros tied it 6-6 on an RBI single by Rodriguez.
RHP Roby Romero, who took the mound in the fourth inning and pitched the fifth and sixth, got the win. RHP Fernando Villalobos, who pitched the sixth inning, got the loss. The seven Bravos pitchers recorded nine strikeouts. Castillo finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI. Johnson went 2-for-3, batted in five of the Bravos’ seven runs.
box score play-by-play
The Bravos are now two games out of a playoff spot, which seemed improbable at the beginning of the month, when they were in last place. They had an eight-game winning streak going into this series, but the Rieleros swept it. The Rieleros are in fourth place in the North Division, good for a playoff spot, and they are four games ahead of the fifth-place team.
Mejia (Dominican Republic) was in the Tigers organization 2002-06. Lake (Dominican Republic) played for the Cubs 2013-15, the Orioles in 2015, and the Blue Jays in 2016. He played in a total of 223 major league games, batted .284 in 2013, and had a career average of .235. Johnson (Coon rapids, MN) played college ball at Nebraska, and ten seasons in the Major Leagues, with the A’s, Rays, White Sox, and Cardinals. He played a total of 443 games, had a career average of .234, with 57 home runs.
Vargas’ (Ventura, CA) home run was his 19th of the season, and he is tied with one other player for third-most home runs in the league. He was in the White Sox organization 2008-10. Castillo has 20 home runs, and is tied with one other player for most in the league. He is batting .365, third-best in the league. Romero (Santa Fe, NM) played for Oklahoma City University, and played for the Tucson Saguaros of the independent Pecos League. Sappelt (Buffalo, NY) played college ball for Coastal Carolina, played for the Reds in 2011, and the Cubs in 2012 and 2013. He played 95 games total, had a career average of .251. Pedroza (Covina, CA) played college ball at Cal State Fullerton, was in the Cardinals organization 2013-15.
Bravos official site
Rieleros de Aguascalientes official site