(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Águilas forces seventh game in Dominican Final with exciting game
SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS (Dominican Repulic) -
Águilas Cibaeñas nipped Gigantes del Cibao 6-5 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven Championship Final of the Liga de Béisbol de Profesional de la República Dominicana (LIDOM) on Sunday (January 17).
With that, Águilas forced a seventh game, as the Final is now tied at 3-3.
The all-deciding seventh game will be played on Monday.
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.
Águilas then won the next game on Saturday with a 9-3 score.
In Estadio Cibao, the home-playing Águilas broke an 1-1 tie with a 4-run fourth inning, then added a run in the sixth.
Trailing 6-1, Gigantes rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth, but ended up short.
Gigantes opened the score in the top of the first inning off of starter Yunesky Maya.
With two outs, the Cuban gave up a single to Kelvin Gutiérrez, then an RBI-double to Juan Francisco.
Águilas came alongside in its first at bat off of starter Scott Harkin and also scored with two outs.
Harkin gave up lead-off singles to Ramón Torres and Juan Lagares, but then got two outs.
The American righthander then gave up a runscoring single to Melky Cabrera.
The bases got loaded when Harkin hit Francisco Peña with a pitch, but then closed with a strikeout.
After both teams had left a runner behind on second base in the third inning, Águilas broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth.
Johan Camargo led off with a single and advanced on an one-out single by Jonathan Villar.
That led to a pitching change, as Jesús Reyes took over from Scott Harkin.
Reyes got the bases loaded when he walked Ramón Torres.
Next batter Juan Lagares connected well and hit a grand slam homerun to give Águilas a 5-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, Águilas scored what can be labeled as an insurance run.
Reliever Marcos Molina hit lead-off hitter Juan Carlos Pérez with a pitch.
With one out, he stole second base and with two outs, he moved to third base on a passed ball.
Pérez then scored on a single by Juan Lagares, who was 3-for-4 and batted in five runs.
The 31-year old Lagares played in the Major League for New York Mets in 2013-2020, but is currently a Free Agent.
Lagares, who is an outfielder, won a Gold Glove in 2014.
In the 2013-2014 winter season, he made his debut in the Dominican Winter League, playing for Águilas and was named Rookie of the Year.
Lagares was without a contract after the 2019 season, then signed with San Diego Padres in February last year, but was released in July.
A week later, he signed a Minor League-contract with the Mets.
Lagares was added to the active Major League-roster in August, but three days later, he was designated for reassignment.
Since then, he is a Free Agent.
Since 2013, Lagares kept on playing for Águilas, except in the 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 seasons.
After having scored in the first inning, Gigantes was held scoreless until the ninth inning.
In the sixth inning, American Joe Van Meter took over the pitching for Águilas and threw three scoreless innings, retiring the side in the seventh and eighth.
But in the top of the ninth, he walked lead-off hitter Richard Ureña and gave up a single to Wilin Rosario.
Van Meter was relieved by Neftali Feliz, who saw both runners advance on a grounder.
Hereafter, Feliz gave up back-to-back homeruns to José Sirí and Ronald Guzmán, which narrowed the deficit to 6-5.
But with the bases now empty, Feliz struckout the next two batters to end the game.