With fireworks and a choral backing of 16,000 fans intoning perennial favorites “Cielito Lindo” and “Ay Jalisco no te rajes,” the Charros de Jalisco baseball team were crowned champions of the Mexican Pacific League (LMP) for the first time Monday, January 28.
Tickets for the sixth game of the series against the Yaquis de Ciudad Obregon at the Charros Stadium in Zapopan sold out within an hour after the Guadalajara-based team won game five last Saturday to lead the final series 3-2.
The anticipation and party atmosphere was in full swing from the first pitch on Monday. Fans arrived decked out in Charros blue – hardily anyone was missing a regulation cap – and the between-inning announcers were hyped up even more than usual.
The game couldn’t have turned out any better than coach Roberto Vizcarra had expected. Pitcher Marco Tovar was on song and struck out five in the first two innings, before the Charros got their first run on the board in the third.
The turning point came with the score at 2-1 in the Charros’ favor after the fourth. An extraordinary fifth inning in which the Charros hitters became superheroes and produced nine runs, sealed the deal and effectively shut the door on the dejected Yaquis.
The stadium was in full voice as the inevitable end came with a strike out from closing pitcher Sergio Romo, with the Charros running out 11-1 winners to take the title.
The Charros had gone into the 2018-19 playoffs looking for their first championship since joining the league in 2014-15. The team had made the finals in their first season but lost against Mazatlan. Since then, the Charros’ fortunes had been mixed and there was little optimism again this year when they squeezed into the playoffs in last place.
The post season, however, was a revelation. A newfound confidence emerged and the opposition was brushed aside as the Charros waltzed into the final.
The final series saw several players step up to the plate and show their true quality. Chief among them was Cuban Daniel Alvarez, the first baseman who batted in 11 runs in the six games, with a .370 average, and was voted the series’ MVP.
Speaking after the game, Vizcarra paid tribute to the loyal Charros fans, who he said “deserved” the title. He also highlighted the “great humility” of the players, which he said was “fundamental” to their success.
The triumph was also a vindication for club owner Armando Navarro, who began his quest to make Jalisco a baseball stronghold nearly two decades ago.
Accompanying the Charros at the sixth game were Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro, Zapopan Mayor Pablo Lemus and National Sports Commission (Conade) Director Ana Guevara, a Olympic 400-meter silver-medal winner.