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Updated: January 29, 2017
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen & Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional)

De Caster, Ricardo, Smith win Serie Latinoamericana with Tigres

MONTERÍA, Córdoba (Colombia) - Tigres de Chinandega has won the fifth edition of the Serie Latinoamericana in Montería (Colombia). On Sunday-evening, the champion of the Nicaraguan professional league shutout host Leones Comfacor de Montería 4-0 in the Final to win its first Serie Latinoamericana-title. Tigres also was a finalist in the first-ever tournament in 2013, but then lost. It also marks the second consecutive time that the Nicaraguan champion wins the event.

Tigres opened the event on Thursday with a 5-2 victory against host Leones Comfacor de Montería, then registered a convincing 7-2 win on Friday against Mexican champion Chileros de Xalapa. On Saturday, the Nicaraguan champion closed the round robin with a 7-5 loss to Panamá Metro from Panamá. Hereafter, a 3-way tie for first place followed between Nicaragua, Panamá and Colombia. According to the rules, when the organisor is one of the teams, it advances automatically to the Final. A draw then decides who will be the second finalist and that was won by Tigres.

And so, the team of Netherlands Team-players Yurendell de Caster, Dashenko Ricardo and Curt Smith faced Leones in the Final and went on to capture the title. First baseman De Caster was one of four Tigres-players to be named to the All Star Team of the Serie Latinoamericana.

It was the second consecutive year that the champions of Nicaragua and Colombia faced each other in the Final. For Colombia, it was its fourth Final in a row.

Last year, Nicaraguan champion Gigantes de Rivas won 12-3 against Caimanes Olímpica de Barranquilla. Back then, Yurendell de Caster played for Gigantes, as did Venezuelan Wuillians Vásquez, who in 2010 played in the Dutch big league for HCAW. A year ago, two Play-Off games followed the preliminary round to decide the Final. This year, the preliminary round was followed immediately by the Final.

In 2014 and 2015, the Colombian teams won the event. Tigres de Cartagena in 2014 and Leones Comfacor de Montería in 2015. The first edition on 2013 was won by Mexican champion Brujos de Los Tuxtlas.

For both Tigres and Leones, this was their second Final As mentioned, Leones won the event in 2015, winning only 1-0 against Caballos de Coclé (Panamá). Tigres played in the first Final in 2013 and then lost against the Mexican host. That game also ended in an 1-0 score.

The next big international event begins next Wednesday, February 1. On that day, the first games will be played of the annual Serie del Caribe, which this year is held in Culiacán (México). Participating in the 59th edition of that tournament are the champions of Cuba, México (Liga del Pacifico), Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Of course, Grand Slam * Stats & News also will cover that event.

(January 29)

Related Articles:
Loss Tigres, but reaches Final Serie Latinoamericana by draw. (January 28)
Tigres wins second game in Serie Latinoamericana. (January 27)
Ricardo leads Tigres to opening-win in Serie Latinoamericana. (January 26)

It was a hot afternoon in Montería with temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit). The game was scheduled to start at 5 PM local time, but that was when the player introductions began. After the playing of the National Anthems and the throwing of the ceremonial first pitch, the game went underway 30 minutes later.

While both Tigres and Leones got some runners, the game remained scoreless in the first four innings. Tigres got the most runners in these first four at bats and got into scoring position once. Leones didn't got a runner in scoring position.

For Tigres, Edgard Montiel doubled with two outs in the top of the first inning, but then was left behind when Curt Smith flied out. After being retired in order in the second inning by starter Javier Ortiz, Tigres reached base again in the third. Jimmy González led off with a single, but then was eliminated in a double play when next batter Jesús López lined out. Hereafter, Everth Cabrera singled, but was caught stealing to end the inning. In the fourth, Curt Smith walked with two outs, but then was forced out on a grounder by Yurendell de Caster.

...Tigres de Chinandega with the Championship-trophy...
(© Photo courtesy of Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional)
Raúl Ruiz started for Tigres. The lefthander retired the side in the bottom of the first, but then walked lead-off hitter Eudy Piña in the second inning. With one out, he was forced out on a grounder by Andy Vásquez, who then stranded on first base. In the third and fourth inning, Ruiz retired the side again.

Tigres then opened the score in the top of the fifth inning. Osman Marval led off with a single, then Dashenko Ricardo struckout. Hereafter, Marval stole second base and advanced to third base when a throwing error by catcher Jesús Posso followed. He then scored when next batter Jimmy González also singled. The inning ended when Jesús López lined into a double play, but Tigres led, 1-0.

Leones got into scoring position for the first time in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Andy Vásquez doubled down the leftfield-line off of Raúl Ruiz. But hereafter, the lefthander struckout the next two batters.

In the top of the sixth, Edgard Montiel connected for his second double in the game. In the first inning, he also doubled with two outs, but then stranded. This time, he drove the ball into deep right-centerfield between the Colombian center- and rightfielder to collect his second double. Hereafter, both Curt Smith and Yurendell de Caster walked to load the bases. But Tigres left three runners behind when next batter Osman Marval grounded out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Leones got its next baserunner in scoring position off of Raúl Ruiz, who ran into some problems. Reynaldo Rodríguez led off with a single, which brought out Manager Lenin Picota to the mound. He briefly talked with his pitcher, who stayed in the game. Moments later, Rodríguez advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Eudy Piña. Hereafter, Ruiz gave up a hit-and-run single to Jesús Posso into short rightfield, resulting in runners at the corners. Ruiz followed with a strikeout and a grounder ended the inning and so, the score remained 1-0 in favor of Tigres.

...Yurendell de Caster won his second consecutive...
...Serie Latinoamericana with a Nicaraguan champion...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the top of the eighth inning, Tigres took more distance with a 3-run rally, highlighted by three runscoring doubles. In this at bat, Ronald Ramírez became the new pitcher for Leones, but he was greeted with a lead-off single by Everth Cabrera. He was moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter César Díaz, which led to a new pitching change. Angel Vílchez took over, but Edgard Montiel and Curt Smith then connected for back-to-back RBI-doubles to lift the lead to 3-0. For Montiel, this was his third double in the game. After Smith had advanced to third base on a grounder by Yurendell de Caster, he scored the next run when Osman Marval also hit an RBI-double. Now trailing 4-0, Yonata Ortega became the third pitcher in this inning for Leones. In the previous games, as well as in the Colombian season, the Dominican had been a successful closer and he now entered the game to avoid giving up more runs. With Marval on second base, Dashenko Ricardo drove the ball into centerfield, but it was caught to end the inning.

After adding the insurance runs, it was now much safer for Tigres to also go to the bullpen. Fidencio Flores took over from starter Raúl Ruiz, who had given up only three hits in seven innings, while striking out five batters. Flores retired the side.

Yonata Ortega struckout the side the top of the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Florencio Flores closed the game for Tigres. Leftfielder Osman Marval made a great running catch on a line drive by lead-off hitter Charlie Mirabal, but hereafter, Reynaldo Rodríguez singled for the Colombians. But that was to be it for Leones. Flores struckout Eudy Piña, then Jesús Posso followed with a comeback-grounder. Flores fielded the ball and threw it to first baseman Yurendell de Caster for the final out. And with that, Tigres won the title, while De Caster won his second consecutive Serie Latinoamericana.

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