The DICK'S Sporting Goods
PONY League World Series

Mexico Zone Qualifier

- Tijuana -

After battling through an eight-game stretch at the PONY Mexico Zone Championships in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes with an undefeated record, Tijuana, Baja California has qualified for the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS) as the Mexico Zone Champion. After winning the Zone’s automatic qualifying bid, Tijuana will make its first-ever appearance at the DSGPLWS in 2018.

Tijuana began the tournament with a dominating effort, combining for 18 runs off 15 hits to defeat Tamaulipas 18-1 in just four innings after plating all 18 runs in the opening two frames. In the first game of the tournament, both Isaac Barriga and Roberto Cardona hit home runs.

In Tijuana’s second game, the offense was the determining factor yet again. Tijuana jumped out to a 6-1 lead over Juarez City (Liga Villermosa), Chihuahua in the opening two innings, but then Liga Villermosa battled back and took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Tijuana, aided by 1.2 scoreless innings pitched by Miguel Sepulveda, put up two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, which was the difference in an 8-7 victory.

After giving up seven runs in the previous game, the pitching buckled down for Tijuana, as Roberto Cordona pitched a complete game against Chihuahua in the third game of the tournament. Cordona only gave up two runs on two hits with six strikeouts, while his offense backed him up with 13 runs of support. Offensively, Juan Valenzuela led the team with four RBIs and a home run. Miguel Sepulveda also combined for four RBIs on two hits in the game.

Into the fourth game, facing Yucatan, it was another close game for Tijuana. After developing a one run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Yucatan plated a run to push the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Tijuana plated a pair of runs to ultimately win the game, 6-4.

The next game against Linda Vista (Mexico City) wasn’t as single sided, as Tijuana put up 13 runs in five innings with a home run off of Aldrich Leon. Tijuana managed to edge out Navojoa, Sonora in the sixth game of the tournament 5-3, as the game was highlighted by the pitching performance of Juan Carlos Munoz. In the game, Munoz only gave up a single hit over 5.1 innings pitched with a total of nine strikeouts.

Tijuana’s pitching prowess continued into the seventh game with David Gomez on the mound. Only giving up two runs on four hits, Gomez struck out 11 batters in six innings of work. Tijuana would hang on against Villa Hermosa and win 4-2, advancing to the championship game.

In the title game of the tournament, Tijuana faced Hermosillo (Unison), Sonora and started hot, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Putting up three runs on Tijuana in the top of the sixth inning, Unison came within one run of tying the game, 6-5. Tijuana held on, aided by three runs of their own in the sixth inning, to win the game and qualify for the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series by a final score of 9-5.

In the game, Roberto Cardona, Ernesto Lopez and Aldrich Leon each put up two RBIs for Tijuana at the plate. The pitching was led by Isaac Barriga, who threw 3.1 innings of work. He struck out two and gave up two runs on five hits. In the championship game in total, Tijuana’s pitching staff combined for seven strikeouts.

Looking ahead, Tijuana will represent the Mexico Zone in the DSGPLWS in August. The first game of the tournament will take place against the South Zone champion at noon ET/US on August 11. Tijuana has the opportunity to become the first world series champion for the Mexico Zone since 1972 when Monterey won the title and the first team from Mexico to appear in the world series since 2013 when Okinawa, Japan knocked off Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

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