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Apr, 2018

La Unison Azul of Hermosillo wins Palomino Mexico Zone Championship

After surviving and advancing in two, one-run, win-or-go-home games over a 24-hour span Friday into Saturday, La Unison Azul of Hermosillo, Sonora finished off its miraculous journey to a Palomino 18U Mexico Zone Championship title by beating Sur de Sinaloa (Mazatlán) in a marathon of a game 10-7.

Sur de Sinaloa opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, when Ricardo Rubio Rosales hit a double to left, scoring Bryan Rivas Mendez, but La Unison Azul countered in the top of the second, when David Roberto Baldenegro singled to center field and an errant throw by the Sinaloan center fielder allowed Giovanni Cusi Astiazaran to score from third. 

Sur de Sinaloa jumped back into the lead in the bottom of the third, when Mendez singled, Angel Daniel Lizarraga was hit by a pitch and Rosales brought them all home on his three-run home run to left. The lead would be short lived as La Unison Azul manufactured a three-run top of the fourth, highlighted by four singles and a walk.

La Unison Azul finally took a lead that it would not relinquish in the top of the fifth, when Luis Carlos Berrelleza changed the game with his solo shot to left field. The squad continued to build upon its lead in the top of the sixth, when Kevin Orlando Acosta connected on an RBI single up the middle and Berrelleza scored Baldenegro on a ground ball fielder's choice to make it 7-4.

Sur de Sinaloa fought back to get back in the game in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and runners on the corners, La Unison Azul turned to Acosta, relieving starter Bryant Alejandro Juzaino. Sinaloa's Diego Armando Balcazar dropped down a sacrifice bunt, which scored Pablo Torres Navarro and advanced Luis Angel Cevallos to second. On a six-pitch at-bat, which included a Cevallos stolen base, Acosta struck out Bryan Rivas Mendez to end the scoring threat (7-5).

La Unison Azul's Marco Antonio Valenzuela led off the top of the seventh with a solo homer to center field, and Andres Hernandez Galviz singled home Astiazaran to give the team more room to breathe at 9-5. But Ricardo Celis Lopez's two-run dinger to center in the bottom of the seventh got Sur de Sinaloa right back in it (9-7). With men on first and second with one out, La Unison Azul once again went to the bullpen and once again it was the right decision, as Sergio Ivan Gaxiola relieved Acosta. Gaxiola struck out the next batter he faced and induced a ground ball fielder's choice to end the Sur de Sinaloa comeback attempt. 

Gaxiola retired the next eight batters he faced until Jose Humberto Lopez came in to record the game's final out, and La Unison Azul walked away victorious (10-7).

The victors recorded 17 hits on the day and was an offensive force to be reckoned with all tournament long. Juzaino picked up the win, after going 5.1 innings (95 pitches) and allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out three. With just one pitch thrown, Lopez earned the save.

Four players recorded multi-hit games for La Unison Azul. Leading the way was Balenegro, who went four-for-four. Berrelleza and Acosta led the team who two RBI apiece, and Astiazaran led the team with four runs scored. For Sur de Sinaloa, Rosales paced the squad with a home run and a double for four RBI on the day.

With the win, Hermosillo, Sonora receives an automatic bid to the Palomino World Series August 3-6 in Laredo, Texas. In the team's first game, Hermosillo will face Host Laredo at 7:00 PM CT/US. It will be the teams' first-ever meeting in a Palomino World Series game. The PONY Mexico Zone Champion is seeking the country's first-ever Palomino World Series title.

Box Score (Stats)

Photos, courtesy of El Lente Deportivo:

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