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Updated: January 15, 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; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Curt Smith helps Tigres win opener Nicaraguan Final

RIVAS (Nicaragua) - Tigres de Chinandega opened the best-of-seven Championship Final in Nicaragua on Sunday (January 14) with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Gigantes de Rivas. Tigres trailed 1-0, but scored twice in the top of the ninth inning. With the score at 1-1, the winning run was scored when Curt Smith was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Game 2 of the Series will be played on Monday-evening at the home-site of Tigres in Chinandega.

...Curt Smith accounted for the winning... for Tigres in the opener...
...of the Nicaraguan Final...
...On the photo, Smith plays for the...
...Netherlands Team during the...
...2017 World Baseball Classic...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
At Estadio Yamíl Rios in Rivas, Tigres-pitcher Marcos Frías threw an outstanding game. The righthander threw six perfect innings, but in the seventh inning, he lost his Perfect Game, No-Hitter and ShutOut. And with that, he almost also became the losing pitcher, despite having thrown very strongly.

Tigres got several chances to open the score. The team got into scoring position six times and stranded five of runners at either second and/or third base in the first six innings. An inning later, Tigres faced an 1-0 deficit after Gigantes had reached base for the first time in the bottom of the seventh.

Tigres got into scoring position for the first time in the top of the first inning. With one out, Ofilio Castro singled and Jamar Walton was hit by a pitch, but they stranded. With two outs in the second at bat, Tigres got its next scoring opportunity. Malvin Martínez then singled and Norlando Valle doubled, but they were left behind at second and third base.

In the fourth inning, Edgard Montiel led off with a double and moved on a grounder. He then was eliminated at the plate trying to score on a hard grounder by Leonardo Ortiz.

In the sixth, Tigres got the bases loaded. Curt Smith led off with a single, but was forced out on a grounder by Edgard Montiel. With two outs, Leonardo Ortiz walked and pinch-hitter Osman Marval reached on an infield-hit. But the three runners were left behind when a grounder ended the at bat.

In the meantime, Marcos Frías dominated as pitcher for Tigres. He retired the first 19 batters in a row, meaning he was pitching a Perfect Game. That ended with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning when Darrel Campbell singled into rightfield, with the ball landing just out of reach in front of rightfielder Curt Smith. Hereafter, Elmer Reyes doubled into deep leftfield. With runners on second and third base, a force play was created by walking Denis Phipps intentionally. A force play indeed followed, as Campbell was eliminated at the plate on a grounder by Wuilliams Vásquez. With the bases still loaded, Gigantes opened the score when next hitter Juan C. Torres reached on an infield-hit. That marked the end for Frías, who was relieved by Jorge Bucardo. A grounder ended the at bat, but Tigres now trailed 1-0.

In the bottom of the eighth, Gigantes left runners behind on first and third base. Moments later, it was Tigres that turned the game its way thanks to two costly hit batters.

In the top of the ninth inning, Leonardo Ortiz led off with a single, then his pinch-runner Adolfo Matamoros moved when Osman Marval also singled. Moments later, Matamoros was forced out on third base on a grounder by Norlando Valle. The bases then got loaded when Yosmani Guerra singled, which led to a pitching change. Berman Espinoza took over the pitching and got a force play-grounder from Ofilio Castro. Guerra was eliminated at second base, but Marval was able to score the tying run. Another pitching change followed. Armando Montenegro took the mound, but he reloaded the bases when he hit Jamar Walton with a pitch. This led to the next pitching change. This time, José E. Villegas was brought in to face Curt Smith. However, Villegas hit the Curaçao-born player with a pitch and that gave Tigres a 2-1 lead! A flyout ended the at bat, but the game had turned the way of Tigres.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, closer Wilber Bucardo took over and retired the side to end the game.

(January 14)

Related Articles:
Curt Smith and Tigres reach Nicaraguan Final. (Jan. 11)
Tigres retakes lead in Nicaraguan Play-Off. (Jan. 10)
Smith homers, but Tigres lose in Nicaraguan Play-Off. (Jan. 8)
Curt Smith leads Tigres to win in Play-Off opener. (Jan. 7)
Gigantes in Nicaraguan Final. (Jan. 5)

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