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Updated: January 26, 2018
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)

Curaçao opens Serie Latinoamericana with win against Panamá

MANAGUA (Nicaragua) - KJ74-Guardian Group WildCats, the champion of Beisbòl Doble A, the Winter League on Curaçao, opened the sixth edition of the Serie Latinoamericana on Friday-afternoon (January 26) with a victory against Bravos de Urracá, the representative of Panamá. The team, led by Manager Johnny Balentina was outhit 13-7, but nipped Panamá 7-6 to have a successful debut. Curaçao participates for the first time in the annual event after it became a member of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Béisbol Profesional in June last year. Diegomar Markwell was the winning pitcher for WildCats, which meets Tobis de Acayucan (México) on Saturday.

The Serie Latinoamericana is being organized for the second time in Nicaragua. All games are played in the beautiful new Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez, named after pitcher Dennis Martínez, who was the first Nicaraguan player to reach the Major League. In 1972, Martínez participated in the Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands with the National Team of Nicaragua.

...Diegomar Markwell was the winning pitcher for Curaçao...
...On the photo, he pitches for the Netherlands...
...during the 2017 World Baseball Classic...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Initially, the squad from Curaçao would have had the day off of Friday. In the original schedule, Curaçao was to play its first game on Saturday, while the other participating teams would get into action on the first day of the event. However, the Colombian champion Leones de Montería withdraw from the tournament at the last moment. Last year, the fifth edition was hosted in Montería. Leones also participated in that event and finished in second place. In 2015, Leones won the Serie Latinoamericana when it was organized in Panamá. Leones won the Colombian Championship-title on Thursday and therefore had requested to play its first game in the event on Saturday, instead of Friday, which was granted. However, hours before the start of the tournament, the team withdraw due to financial reasons. Earlier, it was hoped that two more countries could participate, as Argentina and Chile also had joined the ALBP last year. With that, it could have been a field of participants of seven teams. But Infernales de Salta, the champion of the Liga Argentina de Béisbol and Rangers de Santiago, the champion of the Liga de Béisbol Organizado de Chile also withdraw in the past few weeks due to financial reasons.

With that, for the first time, Colombia is not participating in the event, which was first organized in 2013. Because of this, there were four teams left over and so, the schedule was adjusted. Instead of not playing on the first day, the Curaçao-champion WildCats now played the opening game of the event against Bravos de Urracá from Panamá. The team lost the Championship-Final against Caballos de Coclé, which withdraw its team due to a salary dispute with its players. Manager of the Panamese team is Sharnol Adriana, who was a teammate of Curaçao-Manager Johnny Balentina in the Netherlands National Team.

Curaçao played a good game and turned a deficit into a lead from the third inning on. WildCats trailed 2-0 after two innings, then scored three runs in the third at bat and added three more in the fourth. However, the Panamanian opponent came back into the game from the fifth inning on.

Diegomar Markwell, the pitching ace of Dutch champion Curaçao Neptunus, started for WildCats and threw some solid innings. He pitched on catcher Dashenko Ricardo, who was his teammate at Neptunus in the 2016 season, as well as in the Netherlands National Team. Dudley Leonora, who in November transfered from Hoofddorp Pioniers to Neptunus, played at first base. Yurendell De Caster, another player of the Netherlands Team, was the third baseman for Curaçao. De Caster was a member of the team that won the Serie Latinoamericana in the past two years when he participated with the Nicaraguan champion.

Markwell gave up a 2-out single in the bottom of the first inning to Raidel Chacón, but he stranded on first base. Panamá then opened the score in the next at bat, scoring two runs off of the lefthander with two outs. Markwell walked lead-off hitter José Camarena, but he was eliminated in a rundown after a pick-off. Hereafter, Markwell hit next hitter Andy Vásquez with a pitch, but he was forced out on a grounder by Wilken Pérez. With two outs, Eduardo Thomas singled and both runners scored when Germán Gil followed with a double. Gil later stole third base, but then was left behind.

Curaçao was retired in order in the first and second inning by starter Davis Romero. Trailing 2-0, WildCats rallied for three runs in the top of the third inning. Dashenko Ricardo led off with a single and Rojean Cleofa reached on an infield-hit. The bases got loaded when Romero walked Shurendell Mujica. The deficit was cut in half when Raywendley van Gurp also walked, bringing in Ricardo. Romero then struckout Sherman Lacrus and Cleofa was forced out at the plate on a grounder by Yurendell De Caster. With two outs, but with the bases still loaded, Randolph Kirindongo drilled the ball into rightfield for a 2-run single to make it a 3-2 score in favor of Curaçao.

Markwell was supported with a double play in the bottom of the third inning, then his teammates added three more runs in the top of the fourth. And so, the game had turned the way of WildCats, but in the remainder, the suspense was building. In the fourth, Dashenko Ricardo walked with one out and Rojean Cleofa singled. Both scored on a double by Shurendell Mujica, who later was awarded third base on a balk. With two outs, Mujica scored the next run on a single by Sherman Lacrus and with that, Curaçao led 6-2 halfway the fourth inning.

...Rojean Cleofa had 3 hits and scored 2x for Curaçao...
...On the photo, he hits for Curaçao during the..
...2017 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam (Netherlands)...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the bottom of the fourth, Markwell gave up a lead-off double to Andy Vásquez and a single to Wilken Pérez. But hereafter, Pérez was picked off and a double play ended the at bat.

In the fifth inning, Panamá was able to do something back again, scoring two runs. With one out, Juan Díaz singled, as did Ibrajim McKenzie with two outs. Markwell then gave up runscoring singles to José Camarena and Andy Vásquez that made it a 6-4 score.

WildCats added another run in the sixth inning, but then also left three runners behind. But this was a very important and in the end, decisive run. Rojean Cleofa led off with a single and moved on a grounder. Raywendley van Gurp then walked. After the two runners had advanced on a grounder, a force play was created by walking Yurendell De Caster intentionally. Moments later, Cleofa scored when next hitter Randolph Kirindongo was hit by a pitch to make it a 7-4 score. But hereafter, the bases were left loaded when a strikeout ended the at bat.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Panamá narrowed the deficit to only 7-6. With two outs, Gustavo Periñan doubled, which led to the departure of Markwell. He was relieved by Wendell Floranus, who in 2015 was a member of the pitching-staff of the Netherlands during the Premier12 in Taiwan. However, Floranus was greeted with a 2-run homerun from Juan Díaz, but he then closed with a strikeout. He then retired the side in the next inning.

In the seventh inning, Curaçao got two baserunners, but was unable to add another run. Dudley Leonora led off, but grounded out. Hereafter, Dashenko Ricardo and Rojean Cleofa both walked, but a double play ended the at bat.

Curaçao was retired in order in the eighth, then got its lead-off hitter on base on the ninth when Randolph Kirindongo walked. But he was eliminated in a double play moments later.

And so, the bottom of the ninth inning began with Curaçao leading only 7-6. Shairon Martis took the mound for WildCats and retired the side. The Netherlands Team-righthander struckout the first two batters he faced, then a grounder ended the at bat and the game.

(January 26)

Related Article:
Diegomar Markwell, Dudley Leonora to particpate in Serie Latinoamericana. (January 19)

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