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Updated: January 20, 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 again wins Nicaraguan title with Tigres

RIVAS (Nicaragua) - Tigres de Chinandega again is the champion of Nicaragua, its fourth title in club-history. The squad of Netherlands Team-player Curt Smith trailed twice early on Friday-evening (January 19), but went on to win 8-5 against Gigantes de Rivas in Game 5 to win the best-of-seven Championship Final of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Nacional, 4-1. Last year, Tigres also decided the Final against Gigantes in five games. By winning the Championship-title, Tigres also qualified again to participate in the Serie Latinoamericana, which opens next Friday (January 26) in the Nicaraguan capital Managua. Last year, Tigres won the event when it was played in Colombia.

Tigres opened the Final on Sunday with a 2-1 victory. Trailing 1-0, Tigres scored twice in the top of the ninth inning with the winning run being scored after Curt Smith was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The team took a 2-0 lead on Monday, winning 6-1. On Wednesday, Gigantes trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, but came alongside and won 5-4 on a wild pitch with two outs in the 13th inning to cut the lead in half. Tigres then took a 3-1 lead on Thursday. The team trailed twice, but rallied for five runs in the sixth inning to win 9-5. Highlight in the rally was a grand slam homerun from Yosmany Guerra.

Game 5 was tight from the beginning. The home-playing Gigantes took the lead twice, but Tigres came alongside both times.

...Another Championship-title for Curt Smith...
...On the photo, he has just won the...
...European Championship with the...
...Netherlands Team in 2014...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
After Gigantes-starter Pedro Viola had retired the side in the top of the first inning, his teammates opened the score moments later. In the bottom of the first inning, Tigres-starter Marcos Frías gave up a 2-out double to Elmer Reyes, who then scored on a following single by Juan Carlos Torres. In the opener of the Series, Frías threw a Perfect Game, which ended with one out in the seventh inning.

Tigres came alongside in the top of the second inning. With two outs, Edgard Montiel reached second base on a throwing error. Hereafter, Yosmany Guerra walked. Next hitter Leonardo Ortiz hit a hard grounder down the first base-line for an infield-hit. Montiel continued running, a throw to the plate followed, but he scored the tying run.

Gigantes immediately re-took the lead in the bottom of the second inning, scoring two runs. Denis Phipps led off with a double, but pitcher Marcos Frías followed with two strikeouts. However, both Ramón Flores and Vladimir Frías then connected for back-to-back, runscoring doubles to make it a 3-1 score.

Tigres got one run back in the top of the third inning. Norlando Valle led off with a walk and scored on a following double by Jesús López. The latter advanced to third base on a grounder by Jamar Walton, but then was eliminated at the plate when he tried to score on a grounder by Osman Marval.

In the fifth inning, Tigres made it a 3-3 score. This time, Norlando Valle led off with a double, which was followed by an outfield-error, enabling him to move to third base. Moments later, he scored the tying run on a passed ball. With two outs, Osman Marval singled and Curt Smith walked, but they were left behind.

In the top of the sixth inning, Tigres turned the game its way. Yosmany Guerra led off with a walk, which led to a pitching change. José E. Villegas took over and saw Guerra advance on a sacrifice bunt by Leonardo Ortiz. Hereafter, Marvin Martínez reached on an infield-hit, followed by a throwing error. That brought Martínez to third base, while Guerra scored to put Tigres ahead, 4-3. Norlando Valle followed with a runscoring single and was able to move himself to second base on another outfield-error. Afterwards, Valle was named Most Valuable Player of the Championship Series. Another pitching change followed, as Nelson Payano took over. With Gigantes now trailing 5-3, Payano walked Jesús López, but as ball-four was a wild pitch, Valle not only advanced to the second base, but also to third. He then scored the next run on a grounder by Jamar Walton.

Tigres-starter Marcos Frías retired the side in the bottom of the sixth inning, which also saw an ejection. Juan Carlos Torres led off for Gigantes, didn't like the strike-2 call and flied out. While walking back to the dug-out, Torres said something to Home Plate Umpire Jairo Mendoza, made a waiving gesture and was ejected.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Gigantes brought the suspense back into the game by narrowing the deficit to 6-5. With one out, Luis Alen singled. Tigres-starter Marcos Frías, who again threw a fine game, was then relieved by Junior Téllez. Gigantes got a second baserunner when next hitter Ramón Flores reached on an error. Téllez got the bases loaded when he walked Vladimir Frías and then gave up a 2-run single through the middle by Darrel Campbell. But with runners on first and second base, the at bat ended with a flyout and a strikeout.

Tigres got the runs back immediately in the top of the eighth to make it an 8-5 score. Marvin Martínez led off with a single. Martínez played at third base for Tigres tonight, replacing Ofilio Castro, who left the fourth game on Thursday with an injury. Norlando Valle followed with a sacrifice bunt towards the pitcher, who opted for a throw to second base where Martínez was safe. The two runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Jesús López. With two outs, a force play was set up by walking Osman Marval intentionally to load the bases. But hereafter, a hard grounder from next hitter Curt Smith was misplayed by third baseman Darrel Campbell, resulting in two runs.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Wuillians Vásquez led off for Gigantes with a walk, but was eliminated in an inning-ending double play.

Gigantes got its final chance in the ninth. Luis Alen led off with a walk. Hereafter, Raúl Ruiz took over the pitching for Tigres. The lefthander got a flyout, but then walked Vladimir Frías. But with two runners on base, next hitter Darrel Campbell grounded into a game-ending double play!

(January 19)

Related Articles:
Tigres one win away from title after win on grand slam. (Jan. 18)
Gigantes comes from behind, wins in 13th in Nicaraguan Final. (Jan. 17)
Tigres wins 2nd game; Smith scores and has RBI. (Jan. 15)
Curt Smith helps Tigres win opener Nicaraguan Final. (Jan. 14)
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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