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Updated: February 8, 2017
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

Puerto Rico wins first Serie del Caribe in 17 years

CULIACÁN, Sinaloa (México) - Criollos de Aguas has won the Serie del Caribe and with that, Puerto Rico won the title for the first time again in 17 years. In the Final on Tuesday-evening (February 7), Puerto Rico won only 1-0 in 10 innings against Águilas de Mexicali, the champion of host México.

In the Semi-Final on Monday, it was México that recorded an 1-0 win against Alazanes de Granma (Cuba). Puerto Rico had reached the Final by winning 9-6 against Águilas del Zulia (Venezuela). With that, Puerto Rico had a strong comeback in the event. It lost its first three games, then won the next three to win the title.

Tigres del Licey, the champion of the Dominican Republic, was the fifth participant in the annual event, was eliminated for the Semi-Finals on Saturday.

This is the fourth title for Criollos, who won the Serie del Caribe earlier in 1954, 1974 and 1987. It is 15th time that the event was won by the champion from Puerto Rico, the last time was in 2000 by Cangrejeros de Santurce. The Dominican Republic is the recordholder with 19 titles.

It was the fifth time that the champion was decided through the playing of a Final following a round robin. Until 2012, the championship was decided by the ranking after completion of the round robin. In the first 54 tournaments, the team that ended in first place captured the Caribbean title.

Next years Serie del Caribe, which will be the 60th edition, will be held in the Colombian city of Barquisimeto. Cuba, which is no member of the Confederación de Béisbol Profesional del Caribe, has been a guest-participant since 2014 and can return next year in that same role. Hereafter, Cuba can become a full member again of the Caribbean Confederation. Cuba left when professional baseball was dissolved in the country in 1961. That also marked the end of the Serie del Caribe at that moment, but the event returned in 1970.

(February 7)

Related Articles:
Puerto Rico and México in Final Serie del Caribe. (Feb. 6)
Serie del Caribe: Dominicans remain winless; 1st loss México. (Feb. 5)
Serie del Caribe: Important win Puerto Rico; 1st loss Cuba. (Feb. 4)
Serie del Caribe: 2nd win Cubans; México wins on walk-off slam. (Feb. 3)
Venezuela hands Puerto Rico 2nd loss in Serie del Caribe. (Feb. 2)
Cuban champion opens Serie del Caribe with shutout-win. (Feb. 1)

Game 13 - México vs. Puerto Rico (Final)

Criollos de Aguas collected seven basehits in the game, including two by Yadiel Rivera, who also scored the lone run in the tenth inning. Águilas de Mexicali was limited to only four basehits by three pitchers.

Puerto Rico got a chance to open the score in the top of the first inning off of starter Héctor Velazquez. With one out, Iván DeJesús, Jr. singled and David Vidal doubled, but they were left behind.

After a runner was caught stealing in the third and the team was retired in order in the second and fourth inning, Puerto Rico got into scoring position again in the fifth. Yadiel Rivera led off with a single, but was forced out on a bunt by Jesmuel Valentín. He advanced when Jonathan Morales singled, but two flyouts followed.

Puerto Rico-starter Adalberto Flores had a very strong outing and gave up only one basehit in the six innings he pitched. The righthander had no strikeouts, but dominated. Flores was named Pitcher of the Year in the last two Puerto Rico Winter Leagues.

In the second and third inning, Flores hit a batter with a pitch, but both times, he was supported with a double play. In the fifth, he walked lead-off hitter Chris Roberson, but he was caught stealing. After five innings, Flores was still pitching a No-Hitter, but that ended in the next at bat. With one out in the sixth, he gave up a single to Xorge Carrillo, but thereafter, the Puerto Rican defense turned its third double play.

Puerto Rican Winners
1951Cangrejeros de Santurce
1953Cangrejeros de Santurce
1954Criollos de Caguas
1955Cangrejeros de Santurce
1972Leones de Ponce
1974Criollos de Caguas
1975Vaqueros de Bayamón
1978Indios de Mayagüez
1983Lobos de Arecibo
1987Criollos de Caguas
1992Indios de Mayagüez
1993Cangrejeros de Santurce
1995Senadores de San Juan
2000Cangrejeros de Santurce
2017Criollos de Aguas
After Puerto Rico had stranded a runner on first base in the top of the seventh, México got into scoring position for the first time in its seventh at bat. Andres Santiago, who took over from Flores, gave up a lead-off single to Chris Roberson, who then moved on a sacrifice bunt. Hereafter, Santiago struckout the next two batters.

México again got in scoring position in the eighth inning. Luis Juarez led off with a single and moved on a sacrifice bunt. Next batter Jesús Castillo walked. Hereafter, Ramon Ríos reached on an error, but that also led to the elimination of Juarez at third base. The latter was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned after a challenge and thus ended the at bat.

In the ninth, Puerto Rico was retired in order for the third time in the last four innings. In the bottom of the ninth, México left a runner on first base and so, the game went into extra innings.

Puerto Rico then decided the game in the top of the tenth inning off of new pitcher Jake Sánchez. He gave up a lead-off double to Yadiel Rivera, who then was brought to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Jesmuel Valentín. Moments later, Rivera scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Morales.

In the bottom of the tenth, México was retired in order by Miguel Mejia, who had taken over the pitching in the previous inning. After a grounder accounted for the first out, Ronnie Mustelier lined out to rightfielder Eddie Rosario. The game ended when Jesús Castillo lined out to short stop Yadiel Rivera. And with that, he not only scored the winning run, but also made the final out.

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