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Updated: February 6, 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; Photos by Henk Seppen)

Eliminated Dominicans remain winless in Serie del Caribe; 1st loss México

CULIACÁN, Sinaloa (México) - With a 4-3 loss on Sunday (February 5), Tigres del Licey, the champion of the Dominican Republic, closed the preliminary round of the 59th edition of the Serie del Caribe in the Mexican city of Culiacán. For the Dominicans, it was the fourth loss in the event to stay winless. Opponent Águilas del Zulia trailed 3-1 in the eighth inning, but then turned the game around to win 4-3.

On Saturday-evening, Licey was eliminated for the Play-Offs when Zulia won against Cuban champion Alazanes de Granma.

On Sunday-evening, the preliminary round was closed with the game between the Cubans and Mexican champion Águilas de Mexicali. Cuba won 4-0 and with that, it handed the Mexicans its first loss. As a result, Cuba, México and Venezuela ended up in a 3-way, with the head-to-head results creating another tie. The ranking was then based on the Team Quality Balance. That was in favor of Venezuela, who ended up in first place, followed by México and Cuba.

With this ranking, Venezuela now will meet Puerto Rico in the Semi-Final on Monday. The other Semi-Final then will be played by México and Cuba. The winners will meet each other in the Final on Tuesday.

Puerto Rican champion Criollos de Aguas, which qualified for the Play-Offs on Saturday, had the day off.

(February 5)

Game 9 - Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic

In its last game, Dominican champion Tigres del Licey appeared to close the Serie del Caribe with a victory. Halfway the eighth inning, the team led 3-1 against Venezuelan champion Águilas del Zulia, who then scored three runs to turn the game around and win 4-3.

Not much happened in the first three innings. The Dominicans were retired in order in the first and second at bat, then left a runner on first base in the third. The Venezuelans got a baserunner in the first inning, but that was followed by a double play. They were then retired in order in the next two innings.

Licey then opened the score in the top of the fourth inning off of starter Raúl Rivero. Ronny Rodríguez led off with a single, then Mel Rojas, Jr. also singled with one out. Hereafter, Alfredo Marte also singled to bring in Rodríguez and as an outfield-error followed, Rojas also was able to score.

Dominican starter Ariel Peña retired the side again in the fourth, but then gave up a run in the fifth. José Castillo led off with a homerun, but Peña followed with a strikeout. He then walked Jesús Flores, but the next batter struckout again. Hereafter, Peña gave up a single to Jonathan Herrera, but closed with his third strikeout in the inning.

...Tiago Da Silva was the winning pitcher for Zulia...
...On the photo, he pitches for Italy in the Final...
...of the 2010 European Championship... Stuttgart (Germany) against the Netherlands...
...Italy won the game and captured the title...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The Dominicans added another run in the top of the sixth. Lead-off hitter Ronny Rodríguez reached on an error, then Zoilo Almonte singled, which led to a pitching change. Yorman Bazardo took over, saw Rodríguez steal third base, but struckout the batter. With runners on first and third base, next batter Alfredo Marte grounded to short, which appeared to end in a double play. However, Almonte was ruled safe at second base and Rodríguez scored. Venezuela challenged the play, but that was upheld. And so, Licey led 3-1.

Zulia left a runner on first base in the bottom of the sixth, was retired again in the seventh.

Licey stranded a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Michael De Leon doubled. Hereafter, Edgar Alfonzo took over the pitching from reliever Yorman Bazardo, who had replaced starter Raúl Rivero in the sixth. Alfonzo hit Engel Beltre with a pitch, but then ended the at bat with a strikeout.

In the top of the eighth, Tiago Da Silva took over the pitching for the Venezuelan squad. The Brazilian-born, former Italian National Team-pitcher struckout the first two batters, then gave up a single to Alfred Marte. He was forced out on a following grounder, then Da Silva became the winning pitcher when Zulia struck in the bottom of the eighth. Juan Grullon took over the Dominican pitching, but ran into problems. With one out, he gave up a single to Herlís Rodríguez, then with two outs, a runscoring double to Ronny Cedeño. Hereafter, veteran René Reyes hit a 2-run homerun to turn the game around and give the Venezuelans a 4-3 lead.

Francisco Butto closed the game for the Venezuelan champion. With two outs, he issued a walk, but a grounder then ended the game.

Game 10 - Cuba vs. México

The preliminary round of the Serie del Caribe ended with a 4-0 shutout-win for Cuban champion Alazanes de Granma against Águilas de Mexicali. With that, the Mexican champion suffered its first loss of the event. That created a 3-way tie between Cuba, México and Venezuela. The ranking was then based on the Team Quality Balance with Venezuela finishing in first place, followed by México and Cuba.

Cuba scored all their runs in the fifth inning on two back-to-back homeruns.

In the top of the first inning, Cuban starter Vladimir Banos got two quick outs. He then gave up singles to Yuniesky Betancourt and C.J. Retherford. Betancourt tried to advance to third base on Retherford's basehit, but was eliminated there, ending the inning.

In the bottom of the second inning, Guillermo Áviles and Carlos Benítez singled for Cuba with two outs, but were left behind.

...Alfredo Despaigne hit a 3-run homerun...
...On the photo, he hits for Cuba during...
...the 2013 World Baseball Classic...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Both teams got their first two batters on base in the third inning, but were unable to open te score. Xorge Carrillo led off with a walk for Mexicali, then Ramon Ríos singled, but a flyout and two strikeouts followed. For Granma, Yoelkis Céspedes and Roel Santos began the bottom of the third with singles, but three flyouts followed.

After Mexicali was retired in order in the top of the fourth and fifth, Granma struck in the bottom of the fifth. Céspedes and Santos again led off with singles, then the first was forced out on third base on a grounder by Yunior Paumier. A pop-out in foul territority accounted for the second out, but then veteran Alfredo Despaigne hit a 3-run homerun to put Cuba ahead. William Saavedra followed with another homerun to make it a 4-0 score. That marked the end for starting pitcher Javier Solano, who was relieved by José Meraz.

Mexicali was unable to do something back in the remainder of the game.

In the top of the sixth, México again got its first two batters on base, as American Chris Roberson led off with a single and Jason Bourgeois (also an American) walked. Hereafter, Cuban Yuniesky Betancourt grounded into a double play. The inning ended with a grounder by C.J. Retherford, another American in the Mexican team.

Mexicali was retired in order in the seventh and eighth inning. The squad stranded two more runners in the top of the ninth and with that, it was left empty-handed for the first time in the event after having won the first three games.

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