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Updated: January 27, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

Caribes wins fourth game to sweep Cardenales and win Venezuelan Final

MARACAY (Venezuela) - Caribes de Azoátegui trailed twice, saw a lead being erased three times, but scored the deciding run in the tenth inning to win 8-7 on Tuesday (January 26) against Cardenales de Lara in Game 4 to complete a sweep and win the best-of-seven Championship Final of the Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP). Caribes opened the series on Friday with a 4-0 win, then won 1-0 on Saturday on 9-6 on Sunday to take a 3-0 lead against the defending champion. Due to coronavirus-regulations, the teams were in a bubble, all games were played at Estadio José Pérez Colmenares in Maracay, which is the home of Tigres de Aragua. For Caribes, this was its fourth title and first since the 2017-2018 season. As champion, Caribes will now represent Venezuela in the Serie del Caribe, which opens on January 31 in Mazatlán (México).

Caribes, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, collected 16 basehits in the fourth game off of seven pitchers. Three were hit by both Niuman Romero and Willians Astudillo. Romero also batted in three runs, as did Oswaldo Arcia. Cardenales recorded eleven basehits off of ten different pitchers.

Cardenales was off to a good start, as it scored three runs in the top of the first inning off of starter Wilfredo Ledezma. Ildemaro Vargas and Jecksson Flores led off with walks. With one out, Carlos Rivero homered to give Cardenales an early lead.

Caribes answered with two runs in its first at bat off of Nestor Molina. With two outs, Ali Castillo and Willians Astudillo singled. Cardenales challenged that the ball had hit runner Castillo, but that was denied. Both runners scored when Oswaldo Arcia followed with a double.

In the top of the second inning, Cardenales got the bases loaded with two outs, but the at bat ended with a strikeout. The team then turned a double play in the bottom of the second inning.

Cardenales got a chance to take some more distance in the third inning. With one out, Jaison Vilera became the third pitcher for Caribes. He gave up a triple to Osman Marval, then walked René Reyes, but they were left behind.

Caribes then scored twice in the bottom of the third to take a 4-3 lead. With one out, Rafael Ortega singled, stole second base and reached third on a following error, then scored the tying run on a single by Ali Castillo. The latter then moved into scoring position on a grounder and scored on a single by Oswaldo Arcia to put Caribes ahead.

The lead was shortlived, as Cardenales came alongside in the fifth when Orman Marval singled with one out and scored on a 2-out double by René Reyes.

After Cardenales had stranded three runners in the top of the sixth, Caribes re-took the lead in its sixth. Willians Astudillo led off with a single, advanced on a single by Tomas Telis and scored on a single by Luis Sardiñas to give the home-team a 5-4 lead. Sardiñas was named Most Valuable Player of the Final.

Cardenales came back again in the top of the seventh by scoring two runs and taking a 6-5 lead. José Tabata led off with a single off of Ivan Medina, who then was replaced by Henry Martínez. He got the bases loaded when he walked René Reyes and Josmar Cordero. Pinch-hitter Yonathan Mendoza then also walked which brought in the tying run and led to another pitching change. Jean Toledo took over. He saw Ildemaro Vargas hit into a double play, but that also enabled Reyes to score the go-ahead run.

In the bottom of the seventh, Caribes got the bases loaded with one out, but a double play ended the at bat.

Caribes took the lead for the third time in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Ricardo Gomez became the new pitcher for Cardenales. He walked Luis Sardiñas and gave up a single to pinch-hitter Balbino Fuenmayor, then got the bases loaded when Jesús Sucre also singled. Two runs were then scored when Niuman Romero followed with a single. And that made it a 7-6 score in favor of Caribes.

But in the top of the ninth, Cardenales came alongside again. Ildemaro Vargas led off with a double, which brought in new pitcher Lester Oliveros. Vargas then moved to third base via a sacrifice bunt and scored on a following single by Gorkys Hernández.

As Caribes left a runner behind on first base in the bottom of the ninth, the game went into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, René Reyes led off for Cardenales with a walk, but was eliminated in a double play.

With one out in the bottom of the tenth, Vicente Campos took over the Vaqueros-pitching. With two outs, he gave up a single to Jesús Sucre. His pinch-runner Cristhian Pedroza then scored the winning run on a walk-off single by Niuman Romero.

(January 26)

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