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Updated: February 8, 2020
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Toros del Este (Dominican Republic) wins Caribbean Series

SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) - Toros del Este (Dominican Republic) won the 62nd edition of the Caribbean Series on Friday (February 7) after winning the Final of the annual event against Cardenales de Lara (Venezuela). Toros del Este, champion of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, recorded a convincing 9-3 win against the champion of the Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional. It marks the first time in eight years that a Dominican team won the Caribbean Series.

...An overview of Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan...
...during the 2009 World Baseball Classic...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Last year, Toros de Herrera from Panama won the event. It was the first time in 59 years that a Panamanian team then participated. The win last year was only the second for Panama and the first after 69 years. In 1950, Carta Vieja won the second edition of the Caribbean Series.

The games of this years Serie del Caribe were played in Estadio Hiram Bithorn, which has been the site of several international events in the last years. Amongst them, the First Round of the World Baseball Classic in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Several regular season Major League-games also have been played in the stadium in San Juan (2001, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2018). The stadium is named after pitcher Hiram Bithorn, who in 1942 became the first Puerto Rican to play in the Major League when he made his debut playing for Chicago Cubs.

Six teams participated in this years Caribbean Series, including the first-ever from Colombia. Vaqueros de Montería, champion of the Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional, took the place of the champion of Cuba, which was unable to participate due to visa-problems. One of the players on the roster for the Colombian squad was Dutch outfielder Izzy Wilson, who is born on Saint Maarten. He played in three games and was 0-for-3 (two strikeouts), while also walking once. Last year, Wilson played for three different teams at the Single-A level in the organizations of the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays. Overall, last season, Wilson played in 90 games and batted .217 with six homeruns. Wilson plays professionally since 2015.

Also participating were Tomateros de Culiacán (champion Liga Mexicana del Pacifico), Cangrejeros de Santurce (Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rico) and Astronautas de Chiriquí (Béisbol Profesional de Panamá).

Toros del Este reached the Semi-Final by winning four of its five games in the round-robin. The Dominicans won against Culiacán (2-1), Montería (4-0), Chiriquí (4-3) and Santurce (5-4). The lone loss came against Lara, which won 3-2. The Venzuelans also won four of its five games. The team also won against Montería (6-4), Santurce (3-2, 10 inn.) and Chiriquí (2-0). But it lost 7-6 vs. Culiacán (7-6 L).

In the Semi-Finals on Thursday (February 6), Lara won only 1-0 against Culiacán, while Toros nipped Santurce 4-3. Lara, which was outhit 9-2, scored its lone run in the third inning when Gorkys Hernández walked, advanced on a grounder and scored on a ground-rule double by Welington Dotel. Toros trailed 3-2 halfway the eighth inning, then scored twice and hold onto the small lead. In the eighth, Jordany Valdespin singled and moved on a double by Peter O'Brien. After a pitching change, Valdespin scored the tying run on a wild pitch, then O'Brien scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Abraham Almonte.

Toros del Este outscored Cardenales de Lara 9-3 in the Final, collecting twelve basehits. Lara got nine basehits.

Toros opened the score in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Rubén Sosa. The Dominicans added two runs in the fourth at bat, thanks to a double by Abraham Almonte and a single by Diego Goris.

In the top of the fifth, Lara scored its first run off of starter Paolo Espino via a double from Gorkys Hernández. However, Toros answered with two runs in its fifth at bat on four basehits, including runscoring singles by Wilkin Castillo and Diego Goris. Another Dominican run was added in the sixth on a passed ball.

Lara narrowed the deficit to 6-3 by scoring twice in the seventh. After a walk and a hit batter, a single by Gorkys Hernández brought in a Venezuelan run. After a pitching change, another run was scored on a single by Welington Dotel.

But that was to be it for the Venezuelan champion, while the Dominican opponent took more distance in the eighth by scoring three more runs. That was done on a pinch-hit single by Félix Pie and a 2-run double by Abraham Almonte to make it a 9-3 score.

(February 7)

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