The Rieleros (Railroaders) of Aguascalientes entered this game one game out of the Mexican League playoffs. They played tonight like they want that playoff spot, but came up short in extra innings.
The starter for the Rieleros, Dominican Republican RHP Lorenzo Barcelo, has good credentials for playing in this league; he pitched 66 innings for the White Sox during 2000-02. He was upstaged by Acereros (Steelers) starter RHP Josh Lowey of Fort Walton Beach, FL, who played college ball at Mercer, then played several seasons of independent league ball before going to the Acereros last season. Lowey pitched six innings, allowed two runs on six hits, struck out nine. When he left the game, the Aceros had a 7-2 lead.
The lead didn't hold up. The first reliever for the Acereros, Juan Ramon Noriega, was charged with three runs on three hits, didn't record an out, and the Acereros lead was 7-5 after seven innings. (A sacrifice fly by 1B Jesus Castillo was just short of a three-run home run.) Rieleros relievers Emmanuel Torres and Jose Sanchez were able to keep the Acereos off the board in the top of the eighth. (The scoreboard in Estadio Alberto Romo Cavez doesn't show pitch speeds, but Torres was throwing some serious heat.) The Rieleros then took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth on a leadoff home run by 3B Danny Richar, followed by RBI singles by RF Carlos Ibarra and pinch-hittehr Omar Mendoza. Ibarra scored the go-ahead run, and it was the result of a defensive mistake. On his base hit, the Acereros threw home, even though the run had scored long before the throw. Ibarra was able to move to second on this throw, putting him in scoring position for Mendoza.
That lead didn't hold up, either. The Acereros scratched out a run in the top of the ninth on a walk, a hit batter, a bunt to move the runners to second and third, and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Hernando Arredondo. In the bottom of the ninth, the Rieleros got a walk with two outs, but the next batter struck out to send it into extra innings.
The Rieleros brought in their fifth pitcher of the game, RHP Esteban Haro, to pitch the tenth inning. He got the first batter he faced to ground out, but the next two batters, 3B Olmo Rosario and DH Brett Harper, hit singles, putting Rosario on third. Harper was replaced by a pinch-runner, and the next batter grounded out, moving that pinch-runner to second. The next batter was intentionally walked, then C Francisco Cordoba hit an RBI single that scored two runs. The Rieleros went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the tenth, and that was the ball game. Matt Nevarez, who pitched the ninth inning and the last two outs of the eighth inning, got the win. Marcos Zavala, who pitched the tenth inning, and struck out two of the three batters he faced, got a save. Haro got the loss.
The Acereros opened the scoring with a home run by 2B Hector Garanzuay, ninth in the batting order, in the top of the third inning. The Rieleros answered with two runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI triple by LF Daniel Nunez, followed by an RBI single by SS Domingo Castro. A solo home run by Harper tied it in the fourth, and an RBI single by Rosario the fifth gave the Acereros a 3-2 lead going into the seventh. A power failure stopped play for a while. Then Harper hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh, off Barcelo. Both of the runs he batted in were unearned, the result of two errors by Castro. (Castro made up for it by starting a slick double play to end the inning.) Harper's home run was followed with another one by LF Jose Ruiz.
Other highlights: a good catch by Eliezer Ortiz in center field saved a run in the fifth inning. 1B Jose Amador of the Acereros got an unassisted double play to end the sixth inning. Castro went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Attendance: 3,702.
Box score Play-by-play
Noriega was in the Dodgers organization 2011-14. Arredondo was in the Rays organization 1996-98. Harper is from Salt Lake City, was in the Mets organization 2001-07, the Astros organization in 2008, the Rockies organization in 2009, and the Giants organization in 2010; he spent parts of three seasons in AAA. Nevarez is from Mission Hills, CA, was in the Rangers organization 2005-11, and the Rays organization 2012-14. Ruiz is Cuban, was in the Rays organization in 2010, and the Rangers organization in 2011. For the Rieleros, Richar is a Dominican Republican, played 56 games for the White Sox in 2007, played for the Reds 2008-09.