By Salo Otero
February 1, 2002
The four Caribbean World Series teams are in place, with the final spot taken by the Culiacan Tomato Growers, who won the Mexican Pacific Coast Winter League title over Mazatlan, four games to two.
The clincher in the best-of-seven series was a 3-2 win in Culiacan behind a three-run homer by Adan Amezcua and the pitching of Nicaraguan Vicente Padilla. All four wins were in Culiacan. Mazatlan lost last year in the finals to Hermosillo.
Culiacan represents Mexico in the Caribbean World Series that starts Saturday in Venezuela. Licey (Dominican), Magallanes (Venezuela) and Bayamon (Puerto Rico) comprise the others. It was Culiacan’s eighth title and fifth under manager Francisco “Paquin” Estrada. For Licey, it is the 17th title, breaking a tie with Aguilas in the history of the Dominican League.
Culiacan had won Game Five, 2-0, behind a three-hitter by Rodrigo Lopez, who was 10-2 during the year and 5-0 in the playoffs. Leadoff hitter Darrell Sherman homered.
The win came on the heels of Mazatlan’s Francisco Campos striking out 18 in a 6-0 win. Campos pitched eight innings, walking four. The 18 strikeouts is a playoff record and one shy of the all-time mark set in 1972 by Dyar Miller with Navojoa against Guasave.
Culiacan pitchers Jose Silva (Pirates) and Padilla (Phillies) will not be available for the Series because of major league spring training.
Seven of Culiacan’s reinforcements for the Caribbean Series are pitchers, including Campos, who was 5-2, 1.66 and 89 strikeouts. Among the others: Pablo Joel Ochoa of Mazatlan, Claudio Moreno, Mexicali; and the saves leader with 17, Todd Revenig.
The offense will be led by Benji Gil (Anaheim), Mario Valdez (Oakland), Jacob Cruz (Detroit), Kit Pellow (Kansas City) who hit 16 homers and drove in 48 and ex-big leaguer Derrick White.