(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Águilas comes back in Game 5 in Dominican Final
SAN FRANCISCO DE MACORÍS (Dominican Repulic) -
Águilas Cibaeñas turned an early 3-0 deficit into a 9-3 victory against Gigantes del Cibao on Saturday (January 16) in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Championship Final of the Liga de Béisbol de Profesional de la República Dominicana (LIDOM).
With the win, Águilas won its second game.
Gigantes won the first two games with scores of respectively 5-1 and 6-2, then Águilas won 6-3 in the third game.
On Friday, Gigantes took a 3-1 lead thanks to a 5-0 shutout.
In Estadio Julián Javier, Gigantes scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
With a win, Gigantes would have captured the Dominican Championship-title.
However, the team was held scoreless in the remainder of the game and Águilas came back from the fifth inning on.
Águilas turned the game around in its favor thanks to a 5-run rally in the eighth.
Ramón Torres was 4-for-5 for Águilas, including a homerun and batted in three runs.
Juan Lagares also homered for the team.
Ronald Guzmán and Kelvin Gutiérrez both homered for Gigantes.
Águilas got into scoring position in its first at bat off of starter Dustin Crenshaw.
The righthanded American gave up a lead-off double to Ramón Torres, then walked Rangel Ravelo with one out.
Next batter Luis Juárez then hit a line drive into rightfield, but the ball was caught there by Moisés Sierra.
After Águilas had stranded its two runners, Gigantes quickly struck with three runs in its first at bat off of starting pitcher Carlos Martínez.
The righthander walked lead-off hitter José Sirí, then gave up back-to-back homeruns to Ronald Guzmán and Kelvin Gutiérrez.
But that was to be it for the home-team.
Martínez recovered and retired the next three batters (one grounder, two flyouts).
Martínez added five strong innings in which he struckout five batters and gave up only two more basehits.
He retired the side three times and got only one more runner in scoring position.
The 29-year old Martínez, who is nicknamed 'Tsunami', pitches in the Major League for St. Louis Cardinals since 2013 and threw in the All Star Game in 2015 and 2017.
In 2013, he pitched in relief in five games for St. Louis in the World Series against Boston Red Sox.
In 2015, Martínez founded the Tsunami Waves Foundation, which helps children in need and he organizes an annual bowling event to raise money for his Foundation.
He also collects baseball equipment for children in the Dominican Republic.
After Águilas had come alongside in the top of the seventh, three relievers each pitched a scoreless inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Águilas started to come back.
With two outs, Ramón Torres and Juan Lagares hit back-to-back homeruns off of Dunstin Crenshaw, who had done well so far.
In the sixth, he was relieved by Wily Peralta, who retired the side.
In the seventh, Miguel Del Pozo became the new pitcher.
With one out, he gave up singles to Juan Carlos Pérez and Jonathan Villar.
Pérez tried to advance to third base, but was eliminated there.
On the throw, Villar moved to second base and moments later, he scored the tying run when Ramón Torres also singled.
Torres played in the Major League for Kansas City Royals in 2017-2018.
Águilas then struck with a 5-run rally in the top of the eighth inning to turn the game around.
American Ryan Kussmaul took over the pitching for Gigantes, but ran into problems.
With one out, the righthander hit Rangel Ravelo with a pitch, then gave up a single to Luis Juarez.
36-year old veteran Melky Cabrera then also singled to bring in Juarez and gave Águilas a 4-3 lead.
An outfield-error gave the team runners on second and third base.
Cabrera played in the Major League in 2005-2019 for eight clubs and won the World Series in 2012 while playing for San Francisco Giants.
To set up a force play, Francisco Peña was walked intentionally.
With the bases now loaded, Ulises Joaquín took over the pitching, but he walked Johan Camargo, which led to the next run.
Juan Carlos Pérez followed with a runscoring single, then another run was added on a grounder by Jonathan Villar.
With runners on second and third base, Jesús Liranzo became the new pitcher, but he was greeted with a runscoring single by Ramón Torres.
And that gave Águilas an 8-3 lead.
In the ninth, Águilas added another run on a single by Melky Cabrera off of new pitcher Juan Minaya.
Gigantes got one more scoring opportunity in the bottom of the ninth off of reliever Darío Álvarez.
He walked lead-off hitter Juan Francisco, then gave up an 1-out double to Moisés Sierra.
But hereafter, a line drive was caught and Álvarez closed with a strikeout.
The 31-year old lefthander pitched in the Major League in 56 games for New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers in 2014-2017.
Game 6 will be played on Sunday.
If needed, Game 7 will follow on Monday.