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Updated: January 31, 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)

Águilas and Tigres split double-header to force 7th game in Dominican Final

SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS (Dominican Republic) - Defending champion Tigres del Licey and Águilas Cibaeñas split a double-header on Tuesday (January 30) to force a deciding seventh game in the best-of-seven Final of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, the professional league of the Dominican Republic. Águilas won the opener in the afternoon with a 5-2 score. In the evening, Tigres won 4-3 to force a seventh game.

Águilas opened the series last week with an 8-1 score, then won Game 2 the next day with an 8-4 score. On Thursday, Licey cut the deficit in half by winning the third game of the Final with a 4-3 score at home in ten innings. On Friday, Game 4 went underway 45 minutes later than scheduled due to the weather and was halted halfway the fourth inning due to heavy rain. Águilas led 1-0 after Christian Bethancourt had homered in the third inning. After a waiting period of 2 1/2 hours, it still rained and the game was stopped definitively. The game was re-scheduled for Saturday, but it rained out again, as it also did on Sunday. The game-schedule was then adjusted and Game 4 was moved from the site of Águilas to that of Tigres. There, Tigres won 10-1 thanks to a great pitching perfomance from Netherlands Team-pitcher Jair Jurrjens. With the win, the Final was tied at 2-2.

In the new schedule, the teams had to play a double-header on Tuesday, which was split. Game 7 will be played on Wednesday at the stadium of Tigres. The scheduling of the double-header was needed, as no additional playing day could be added. That is because on Thursday, the Dominican champion has to travel to México for participation in the Serie del Caribe, which opens on Friday.

In the first game of the double-header on Tuesday (Game 5), Águilas scored two deciding runs in the fourth inning off of American starter Bryan Evans, who was relieved with two outs in this at bat. With the score at 2-2, Águilas got the bases loaded, then two runners scored on a single by Junior Lake to give his team a 4-2 lead. Águilas then added an insurance run in the sixth at bat.

Águilas recorded nine basehits in the game, including seven off of starter Evans, who threw 3 2/3 inning. In the remainder of the game, the team added only two more basehits. Lake batted in three runs for Águilas. In 2013-2016, Lake played in 223 Major League-games for three teams, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, he played in Triple-A in the organization of the Boston Red Sox.

In the evening, Tigres led from the third inning on in a suspensful game. Tigres opened the score in the third inning when Emilio Bonifacio led off with a walk and scored on a following double by Sergio Alcantara.

The reigning champion added a run in the fourth at bat when Juan Francisco homered with one out. Águilas then got one run back in its fourth, thanks to doubles by Junior Lake (with one out) and Edwin Espinal (with two outs).

But Tigres answered with two runs in the fifth to increase the lead to 4-1. With one out, Emilio Bonifacio doubled and stole third base. He was called safe, a challenge followed, but the call was upheld. Hereafter, Bonifacio scored on a single by Sergio Alcantara. After a pitching change, Alcantara went on to score the next run on a single by Yamaico Navarro.

Águilas was able to narrow the deficit to 4-3 by scoring in the sixth and eighth inning. In the sixth, Jonathan Villar tripled and scored on a grounder by Junior Lake. In the eighth, lead-off hitter Christian Bethancourt was hit by a pitch by new pitcher Andes Avila. He was immediately replaced by Atahualpa Severino, but he enabled Bethandourt to move to second base with a wild pitch. He the struckout the hitter and a new pitching change followed. Jairo Asencio took over and he saw Bethancourt advance to third when Lake flied out, then score on a single by Danny Santana. In the ninth, Águilas got a runner on first base with two outs, but was left empty-handed, as Asencio closed the game with a strikeout.

(January 30)

Related Articles:
Jurrjens leads Tigres to win; Dominican Final at 2-2. (January 29)
Game 4 Dominican Final rains out for third time. (January 28)
Granma repeats as Cuban champs with small win in Game 7. (January 28)
Game 4 Dominican Final rains out again. (January 27)
Game 4 Dominican Final stopped by rain. (January 26)
Jair Jurrjens and Tigres trail in Dominican Final. (January 23-25)

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