(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Venezuela-men win gold on Central American & Caribbean Games
VERACRUZ (Mexico) -
Venezuela captured the Gold Medal in the men softball-tourmament of the Central American and Caribbean Games.
In the final (November 22), Venezuela won only 1-0 against host Mexico.
The 22nd edition of the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz (Mexico) opened on November 14 and ends on November 30.
In the two-week event, athletes of 31 countries (including Aruba) participate in 40 different sports, including baseball and softball.
The baseball-tournament ended yesterday with Cuba winning the Gold Medal.
Baseball is one of only five sports which has been part of all editions of the Central American and Caribbean Games since it was first organized in 1926.
The other sports are athletics, basketball, shooting and swimming.
Softball made its debut on the event in 1946, then returned in 1974.
Since then, softball is on the program of every edition of the event.
The men softball-tournament began on November 16 with the participation of six teams.
It was the third consecutive time that Venezuela won the men softball-gold on this event.
Venezuela dominates, as it also captured the gold four years ago, when the multi-sport event was held in Puerto Rico, as well as in 2006 in Colombia.
The women softball-tournament opened on Monday, November 24 and closes on November 30.
In the Preliminary Round, Venezuela remained unbeaten, winning five games.
The squad opened with a 4-1 win vs. Panama, then defeated Mexico 7-1 the next day.
On Day 3, Venezuela shutout the Dominican Republic 2-0 and then the team nipped Guatemala 2-1.
Venezuela closed the Preliminary Round with another small win, beating Cuba only 2-1.
In the ranking, Venezuela was followed by Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala.
The top-4 qualified for the Play-Offs.
In the first Semi-Final, Venezuela shutout Cuba 4-0 to reach the Final.
In the other Semi-Final, Mexico eliminated the Dominican Republic by winning 6-4.
Mexico then met Cuba in the backdoor-game and won 2-0 to become the second finalist, while Cuba settled for Bronze.
In the Final, Venezuela scored the lone run in the second inning.
Yeider Chirinos, who hit two of Venezuela's six basehits, then scored the lone run when an error was made on a hit by Luiger Pinto.
Winning pitcher Ramón Jones went the distance for Venezuela and dominated.
He struckout eight batters and gave up only three hits.
Jones was pitching a Perfect Game after four innings.
Jones then got the bases loaded with no outs in the fifth inning, but escaped unharmed.
In the seventh inning, Venezuela ended the game with a double play.
This was the fifth victory of the tournament for Jones, who pitched a No-Hitter against the Dominican Republic.
In October last year, Venezuela also won the Gold Medal during the Pan Americano Men Softball Championship in Paraná (Argentina).
Venezuela then won 2-0 in the final against host Argetina.
Jones also was the winning pitcher in that final.
All games were played on the Carlos Cerdán Sports Complex in Veracruz.
According to international rules, all teams had 17 players on their roster, but Venezuela had the biggest staff in which 13 persons were listed!
Marco Gonzalez of Mexico was the Best Hitter of the tournament with a .591 (13-for-22) batting average.