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Updated: February 8, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)

Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico in Final Serie del Caribe

ZAPOPAN, Jalisco (México) - The champions of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will meet each other in the all-deciding Final of the 60th Serie del Caribe, which will be played on Thursday. Both teams recorded come-from-behind victories on Wednesday (February 7) in the Semi-Finals.

Puerto Rican champion Criollos de Caguas trailed 4-0 after five innings against Caribes de Anzoátegui, the champion of Venezuela. Puerto Rico then came alongside in the sixth, trailed again after the seventh, but decided the game in the eighth, winning 6-5.

In the evening, Águilas Cibaeñas from the Dominican Republic won 7-4 against Alazanes de Granma, the champion of Cuba, which had finished in first place in the Preliminary Round. Like Puerto Rico, the Dominicans trailed after five innings (3-0), but then scored tiwce in the sixth and turned the game their way from the seventh inning on to win 7-4. In the Preliminary Round, Águilas had handed Cuba its lone loss, winning 7-1. An important win, as it sealed a spot in the top-four for the Dominicans.

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 7)

Related Articles:
Cuba ends first in Prelimnary Round Serie del Caribe. (February 6)
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)

Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico
Venezuala opened the score with one run in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, the bases got loaded on two walks and a single, then the run was scored on a sacrifice fly by Alexi Amarista. Two runners were left behind.

Venezuela also got into scoring position in the third and fourth inning, but was unable to score. But in the fifth, the Caribes rallied for three runs. Luis Sardinas led off with a single, which led to a pitching change. Fernando Cruz took over from starter Orlando Roman, but was greeted with a single from Rafael Ortega. Hereafter, Niuman Romero delivered a runscoring single and Rene Reyes followed with a 2-run double to lift the lead to 4-0.

...Miguel Mejia had a strong closing for Puerto Rico...
...On the photo, he pitches for Puerto Rico during the 2012...
...Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Venezuelan starter Daryl Thompson retired the first eleven batters he faced. With two outs in the fourth, he gave up a single to Anthony García, but closed with a strikeout. Thompson retired the side again in the fifth, but then, Puerto Rico suddenly scored four runs in the top of the sixth to erase Venezuela's lead.

With one out, Irving Falu, Rusney Castillo and Jesmuel Valentin all singled to load the bases. That marked the end for Thompson, who was relieved by Nestor Molina. However, Molina's fifth delivery to next hitter Anthony García was hit very well and ended over the fence in left-centierfield for a grand slam homerun that tied the score at 4-4! It also brought in new pitcher Liarvis Breto. He retired the next two hitters, but it was a new game again.

In the bottom of the sixth, Venezuela stranded another runner in scoring position, but re-took the lead in the seventh off of reliever Robby Rowland. He walked lead-off hitter Rene Reyes, who advanced on an one-out single by Luis Jimenez and scored on a following single by Tomas Telis. A double play ended the at bat.

Now trailing 5-4, Puerto Rico staged another comeback in the top of the eighth off of reliever Mayckol Guaipe. He gave up a lead-off single to Irving Falu, who moved on a grounder and a passed ball, then scored the tying run on a single by Jesmuel Valentin. Hereafter, two challenges followed and Puerto Rico took the lead to keep. Valentin stole second base, while being tagged. The safe-call was challenged, but the call was upheld. Next batter Anthony García was walked intentionally and Cesar Jimenez became the new pitcher. He began with a wild pitch that moved the two runners. That was followed by a throwing error from the catcher, which enabled Valentin to score the go-ahead run. García advanced to third base and was ruled safe. An umpire review followed. This time, the call was overturned and so, García was out. Jimenez walked Johnny Monell and another pitching change followed. New pitcher Felipe Paulino got an inning-ending flyout, but Venezuela now trailed 6-5.

Venezuela was retired in order in the bottom of the eighth and ninth inning by closer Miguel Mejia.

Cuba vs. Dominican Republic
Cuba took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, but from the sixth inning on, the Dominican Republic came back and turned the game its way to reach the Final.

The Dominicans appeared to open the score quickly in the top of the first inning, as they got the bases loaded with no outs. Abiatal Avelino and Gustavo Nunez began with singles, then Junior Lake walked. But hereafter, starting pitcher Lazaro Blanco struckout the next three hitters!

...Frederich Cepeda homered for Cuba; On the photo,...
...he hits during the 2013 World Baseball Classic...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Cuba got its first two hitters on base in the bottom of the first off of starter Yunesky Maya, who is a Cuban himself. He also followed with a strikeout, then was supported with a double play.

Cuba then rallied for three runs in the second inning. Guillermo Aviles led off with a walk and scored on a following triple by Frederich Cepeda. That was followed by an error from rightfielder Ronny Rodriguez, which also enabled Cepeda to score. Next hitter Carlos Benitez doubled, moved on a grounder and scored on a single by Raul Gonzalez to make it a 3-0 score. An error led to another baserunner and a pitching change, but no runs were added.

Trailing 3-0, the Dominicans left a runner on second base in the third inning, then was retired in order in the fourth and fifth. In the top of the sixth inning, Águilas got back into the game, scoring two runs. Junior Lake led off with a triple, then scored when Ronny Rodriguez homered with two outs. Carlos Paulino walked, which brought in new pitcher Miguel Lahera, who retired the next hitter.

In the seventh, the Dominicans rallied for three runs. Yefri Perez led off with a single and Abiatal Avelino walked. That brought in Raidel Martinez, another experienced pitcher on the Cuban roster. A throwing error by Martinez on a sacrifice bunt by Gustavo Nunez led to the tying run and runners on second and third base. A force play was then created by walking Junior Lake intentionally. But hereafter, Edwin Espinal connected for a 2-run single to put the Dominicans ahead, 5-3. Another pitching change and three outs followed, but Cuba now trailed.

The Dominicans took more distance by adding two insurance runs in the eighth inning. With two outs and a runner on third base, Gustavon Nunez and Junior Lake delivered runscoring singles to make it a 7-3 score.

Cuba got one run back in the bottom of the eighth when Frederich Cepeda (3-for-3) led off with a homerun. But the team was unable to re-take the lead and was left empty-handed.

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