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Updated: February 7, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Cuba ends first in Preliminary Round Serie del Caribe

ZAPOPAN, Jalisco (México) - Cuba, represented by champion Alazanes de Granma, closed the Preliminary Round of the 60th Serie del Caribe in first place by winning 6-3 on Tuesday (February 6) against Criollos de Caguas, the champion of Puerto Rico. In the evening, Tomateros de Culiacán, the champion of host México, won its first game of the event. The Mexicans won 8-1 against Águilas Cibaeñas, the champion of the Dominican Republic. Despite the win, México was eliminated, as the Dominicans had recorded an important win against Cuba on Monday to reach the top-four.

Caribes de Anzoátegui, the champion of Venezuela, had the day off on Tuesday.

With the win, Cuba recorded its third win to finish in first place. Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic ended up in a tie with a 2-2 record. As the head-to-head results of these three teams resulted in another tie, the tournament-rules had to decided the final ranking. That resulted in a second place for Venezuela, which now will meets third placed Puerto Rico in the Semi-Final on Wednesday. Cuba plays against fourth placed Dominican Republic. The two winners meet in the Final on Thursday.

This year, the Serie del Caribe is played at Estadio Panamericano in the city of Zapopan, which is part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, located in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The stadium is the home of Charros de Jalisco of the Mexican Pacific League, which has a Triple-A Minor League-designation.

(February 6)

Related Articles:
First loss Cuba; México eliminated for PO Serie del Caribe. (February 5)
Venezuela hands México 3rd loss of Serie del Caribe. (February 4)
Cuba also wins second game of Serie del Caribe. (February 3)
Cuba & Puerto Rico open Serie del Caribe with win. (February 2)
Águilas dethrones Tigres and captures Dominican title. (January 31)
Granma repeats as Cuban champs with small win in Game 7. (January 28)

Puerto Rico vs. Cuba
Cuba decided the game against Puerto Rico late, as it broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the seventh inning, then added two insurance runs in the eighth at bat.

...Frank Morejon dives back to 2nd base, playing...
...for Cuba vs. Netherlands during the 2012...
...Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Cuba collected eleven basehits, including two from Roel Santos and veteran Frank Morejon. The latter doubled and homered, scored three runs and batted in two.

Puerto Rico recorded six basehits, including three homeruns.

Puerto Rico opened the score in the bottom of the first inning when Anthony García homered with two outs. But Cuba came alongside in the top of the third inning when Frank Morejon also homered with one out.

After both teams were retired in order in the fourth inning, both scored two runs in the fifth at bat.

In the top of the fifth, Cuba took a 3-1 lead. Carlos Benitez led off with a single, advanced on a grounder and scored on a ground-rule double by Frank Morejon. With two outs, Morejon scored the next run on a single by Roel Santos.

The lead was very shortlived, as Puerto Rico came alongside with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ruben Gotay and Dayron Varona hit back-to-back homeruns.

For Puerto Rico, the scoring stopped there, but Cuba broke the 3-3 tie in the top of seventh inning off of reliever Joe Colon. And again, Frank Morejon was involved. The experienced catcher walked with two outs and scored on a following double by Raul Gonzalez to put Cuba ahead, 4-3.

In the eighth inning, Cuba took some more distance, scoring two runs off of Andres Santiago. The bases got loaded when Yordan Manduley led off with a single, Yurisbel Gracial walked and Frederich Cepeda also singled. After the latter was replaced by pinch-runner Yoelqui Cespedes, Guillermo Aviles followed with a 2-run single to make it a 6-3 score. With runners on second and third base and two outs, a force play was set up with an intentional walk. A double play then ended the at bat, but Cuba had a 3-run lead.

In its final three at bats, Puerto Rico reached base only once. After being retired in order in the seventh and eighth, David Vidal walked with one out in the ninth, but a double play then ended the game.

Dominican Republic vs. México
México closed the Preliminary Round with a convincing 8-1 win against the Dominican Republic, but the result had no influence on the final standings. The Dominicans had reached the final-four on Monday by winning against Cuba, which also meant the elimination for the host-country.

México led only 1-0 after four innings, but then took more distance and added seven runs in the next three at bats. México collected nine basehits, including two homeruns. Justin Greene was 2-for-3, scored twice and batted in two runs for the Mexicans.

México opened the score in the top of the first inning. With one out, Sebastian Elizalde walked and advanced to third base on a single by Joey Meneses. Elizalde then scored when an error was made on a force play-grounder from next hitter Jesus Castillo.

Both teams didn't get big opportunities in the following innings, but México then added two runs in the fifth off of reliever Ranfi Casimiro. And that looked like a replay of the run scored in the first inning. With one out, Justin Greene and Sebastian Elizalde singled, then an error was made on a grounder by Joey Meneses. This time, the error led to two runs.

The Dominicans scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, the bases got loaded, then the run was scored on a sacrifice fly by Gustavon Nunez.

In the sixth, México rallied for four runs off of reliever Samuel Deduno. With one out and runners on second and third base, Alfredo Amezaga connected for a 2-run triple. Hereafter, Justin Greene hit a 2-run homerun to lift the lead to 7-1.

México scored another run int he top of the seventh when Japhet Amador homered with one out.

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