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Updated: February 4, 2017
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2017 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Cuban champion registers 2nd win in Serie del Caribe; México wins on walk-off grand slam

CULIACÁN, Sinaloa (México) - Cuban champion Alazanes de Granma won 6-1 vs. Puerto Rican champion Criollos de Caguas on Friday-afternoon (February 3), the third day of the 59th edition of the Serie del Caribe in the Mexican city of Culiacán.

In the evening, Águilas de Mexicali played its third game of the event and remainded unbeaten. The Mexicans met Águilas del Zulia, the champion of Venezuela, won 5-1 and decided the game in spectacular fashion. With the game tied at 1-1, Sebastian Valle hit a walk-off, grand slam homerun.

At Estadio BBVA Bancomer, the stadium of Tomateros de Culiacán, Granma broke an 1-1 tie in the third inning when it rallied for three runs. From that moment on, the Cubans controlled the game and went on to win its second game of the tournament.

Dominican champion Tigres del Licey had no game scheduled.

(February 3)

Game 5 - Cuba vs. Puerto Rico

Cuban champion Granma broke a 1-1 score with three runs in the third inning, then added two more runs in the seventh to register a comfortable victory.

Puerto Rico got its first two batters on base in the top of the first inning and appeared to have something in the making. Cuban starter Vladimir García led off with a walk for Jorge Padilla, then Rey Navarro singled. But that was to be it, as García struckout the next two batters and a force out ended the at bat.

Jarret Leverett started for Puerto Rico and retired the side in the first inning, but then gave up a run in the next at bat. Leverett walked Alfredo Despaigne, but with one out, he was forced out on a grounder by Denis Laza. The latter then stole second base and scored when Carlos Benítez followed with a single. Veteran Frank Morejon added another single, but the two Cuban runners then stranded moments later.

Puerto Rico came alongside in the top of the third. Jonathan Morales and Jorge Padilla opened with singles and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Hereafter, Morales scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Eddie Rosario.

...William Saavedra was 3-for-4 (2B, HR)...
...with one run scored and 3 runs batted in......
...On the photo, he is hitting for Cuba...
...during the 2011 World Port Tournament... Rotterdam (Netherlands)...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The Cuban champion answered with three runs to re-take the lead. With one out, four consecutive basehits were recorded. First, Yunior Paumier doubled and then Alexander Ayala singled. With runners on first and third base, next batter Alfredo Despaigne also singled to give Cuba a renewed lead. William Saavedra added an RBI-double to make it a 3-1 score. With runners on second and third base, Frank Del Valle took over the pitching, but he got the bases loaded when he hit Denis Laza with a pitch. Hereafter, a sacrifice fly by Carlos Benítez increased the lead to 4-1.

In the top of the fourth inning, Puerto Rico got into scoring position again, but stranded two runners. Randy Ruiz singled with one out and Iván DeJesús, Jr. singled with two outs, but they were left on first and third base. In the fifth, Cuban pitcher García retired the side again.

In the bottom of the fifth, it was Cuba that left runners behind in scoring position. With one out, William Saavedra singled and with two outs, Carlos Benítez doubled, but they stranded on second and third base.

In the top of the seventh inning, Livan Moinelo took over the Cuban pitching for starter Vladimir García. He walked a batter with one out, but then struckout the next two batters.

Granma added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off of new pitcher William Oliver. He walked lead-off hitter Alfredo Despaigne, then gave up a homerun to next batter William Saavedra, who was 3-for-4 and batted in three runs. Saavedra missed the triple to hit for-the-cycle. After Saavedra had homered, Oliver hit next batter Denis Laza with a pitch. He was replaced by pinch-runner Victor Mesa, but a double play followed. Mesa is the son of legendary player and manager Victor Mesa Sr.. With two outs, Frank Morejon singled and Yoelkis Céspedes doubled and that led to another putching change, as Fernando Cabrera took over. Granma left runners behind on second and third base, but now lead 6-1. The 19-year old Céspedes is the half-brother of Yoenis Céspedes, who plays in the Major League for the New York Mets.

In its eighth at bat, Puerto Rico got two baserunners with one out, but the Cuban defense then turned a double play. Hereafter, Miguel Lahera pitched the ninth inning for the Cubans. He gave up a 2-out single to Iván DeJesús, Jr., but pinch-hitter Jesmuel Valentín then lined out to end the game.

Game 6 - México vs. Venezuela

In the evening, the game between the Eagles from México and Venezuela was played. Both champions have the nickname 'Águilas', which is Spanish for 'Eagle'. With the game tied at 1-1, Mexican champion Águilas de Mexicali decided the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was catcher Sebastian Valle, who then drilled a delivery over the fence for a walk-off grand slam homerun and a 5-1 victory. With this, México now leads the event with three victories, followed by Cuba's Granma, which is 2-0.

It was Venezuelan champion Águilas del Zulia that opened the score in the top of the third inning off of American starter Barry Enright. The 30-year old righthander gave up a lead-off single to Jonathan Herrera, who then advanced on a grounder. With two outs, Herrera scored on a single by José Castillo. An error on a grounder by next batter José Pirela led to another baserunner, but Enright then closed with a strikeout.

In the bottom of the third, Sebastian Valle led off with a double for Mexicali and moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt, but then was left behind. The Mexicans already had stranded a runner on second base in the first at bat off of starter Carlos Hernández. The lefthanded American pitched in Double-A and Triple-A last year. He never pitched in the Major League, but plays in the minors since 2007.

In the top of the sixth, Manny Barreda took over the Mexican pitching for Barry Enright. With two outs, he walked René Reyes, then gave up a single to Alex Romero, which led to runners on first and third base. The inning ended when Reyes was picked off at third base by catcher Sebastian Valle.

Mexicali then came alongside in the bottom of the sixth, but failed to take the lead. With one out, Jason Bourgeois singled and advanced when an error in leftfield followed. With two outs, C.J. Retherford also singled to bring in Bourgeois and tie the score. Retherford moved to second base on the throw to the plate, then an intentional walk for Luis Juarez set up a force play. Hereafter, Romulo Sánchez took over the Venezuelan pitching, but got the bases loaded when Ronnier Mustelier singled. Three runners were left behind when Sánchez closed with a strikeout.

In the seventh, both teams were retired in order. In the eighth, Venezuela left a runner on second base, while México was retired in order again.

In the top of the ninth, with the score still at 1-1, Óliver Pérez took the mound for México. The 35-year old lefthander pitches in the Major League since 2002 and last year, he was 2-3 in 64 games as a reliever for Washington Nationals. Pérez retired the side and that set up what would be a spectacular bottom of the ninth inning.

Pedro Rodríguez became the fifth pitcher for Zulia and he gave up a lead-off single to Luis Juarez. Next batter Ronnier Mustelier followed with a sacrifice bunt that ended in a throwing error by Rodríguez and led to runners on first and third base. Venezuela challenged the play, but the call was upheld. Hereafter, pinch-hitter Jesús Castillo walked. That loaded the bases and brought Sebastian Valle in the batter's box. With still no outs, there was a good possibility that México would score the winning run, but Valle did it in style. Last year, the 26-year old catcher played in Double-A for the New York Yankees. With a full count, Valle drilled the ball into the leftfield stands for a walk-off, grand slam homerun to give Mexicali a 5-1 win.

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