Cuba Starts Off Strong in Series del Caribe

Myworld was in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend coaching in a volleyball tournament so we missed the first weekend of the Series del Caribe. Below is a summary of the first weekend of activities.

Cuba 6 Venezuela 4

The first day saw Cuba knock off Venezuela in the opener. Yurisbel Gracial drove in three runs, including an RBI double in the first inning to drive in the second run of the game. Roel Santos got the inning started with a single and advanced to third after centerfielder Rafael Ortega committed an error. Yordan Manduley drove him in with a single.

Venezuela tied it with a run in the third. Back to back singles by Luis Sardinas and Rafael Ortega put runners on first and third with no out. Cuba stunted the rally turning a double play but it allowed the first run to score. In the fourth Luis Jimenez went deep with a solo shot to tie the game.

Gracial got the lead back for Cuba in the bottom of the fifth with a sacrifice fly. He scored Raul Gonzalez, who had started the inning with a single. Santos bunted him to second and Manduley advanced him to third with a single.

Cuba extended the lead to 5-2 with a two out rally. Santos started the inning with a walk, then stole second. Manduley walked and Gracial drove in his third run of the game with a single. Alexander Ayala drove in the second run with a single, pinch hitting for batting title winner Jorge Yhonson who had replaced the injured Alfredo Despaigne in left field.

Trailing 6-4 in the top of the ninth Venezuela loaded the bases. Luis Jimenez came to the plate with reliever Raidel Martinez having no place to put him. Martinez struck out Jimenez to end the inning and give Cuba the victory. The win may prove costly as Alfredo Despaigne had to leave the game with a pulled calf muscle.

Puerto Rico 7 Mexico 4

Puerto Rico got off to a good start despite an abbreviated season with a 7-4 win over Mexico. Both teams were tied at 4-4 entering the 8th but Puerto Rico scored three in the inning to put the game away. Anthony Garcia led off the inning with a double and David Vidal scored the go ahead run with a double. A wild pitch scored the second run and Dayron Varona sent one to the fence in center field for an RBI triple to extend the lead to 7-4.

In the bottom frame Mexico put runners on second and third with two out but Walter Ibarra struck out to end the inning. Miguel Mejia replaced Robby Rowland on the mound for the ninth inning, giving up only a one out single to Rico Noel, but retiring the other three hitters to earn the save and give the victory to Puerto Rico.

Venezuela 15 Dominican Republic 4

Venezuela battered Dominican pitching for 20 hits to rout the Dominican Republic. Recent National signing Balbino Fuenmayor went 5 for 5 with two homeruns a double and two singles. He drove in five runs and scored three times. Balbino got the scoring started in the second inning with a solo shot. In the third inning he made it 3-0 with a two run blast. Fuenmayor hit a two run double in the fifth just after the Dominicans scored three in the top frame to trim the lead to 4-3.

In the sixth inning after the first two hitters were retired by the Dominicans Rafael Ortega hit a two run homer and Rene Reyes also hit a two run homer to give Venezuela a commanding 10-4 lead. They scored five more in the 8th, Willains Astudillo and Alexi Amarista each contributing two run doubles to fuel the inning.

Raul Valdes got the start for the Dominican Republic and gave up four runs in four innings of work. The bullpen let the game get away allowing 9 runs in the last three innings Venezuela hit. Freddy Garcia started for Venezuela but was one out shy of getting the victory, allowing three runs.

Cuba 5 Mexico 4

Cuba sent Mexico down to their second loss, while they moved to 2-0 on Saturday. Cuba rallied to score three runs in their last two at bats to pull out the win. Raul Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 7th with a solo homerun. Frederich Cepeda tied the game later in the inning when he hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. In the 8th Raul Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Yoelqui Cespedes with the go ahead run.

Raidel Martinez came on to pitch the ninth and retired Mexico in order to send the Mexican faithful back home disappointed. Alain Sanchez went five innings in relief, allowing just one run to get the victory. He came on in relief of Cuban ace Yoennis Yera, who was not sharp, giving up seven hits and walking three to allow Mexico to score three of their runs.

Dominican Republic 6 Puerto Rico 3

The Dominicans scored five runs in the first two innings to bounce back from their Venezuelan loss in the opener. Edwin Espinal drove in the first two runs in the first inning with a two run single. Francisley Bueno pitched five innings of shutout ball to get the win.

The Dominican bullpen almost choked the game in the sixth with Samuel Deduno failing to retire any of the three hitters he faced. All of them scored to make the game close. Josh Judy was able to retire all three hitters he faced in the ninth to pull out the save for Dominican Republic for their first win.

Giovanni Soto gave up five of the six runs for Puerto Rico, failing to survive the second inning. He failed to retire the first three hitters he faced in the second inning and was pulled.

Venezuela 6 Mexico 4

The Venezuelan bats stayed hot, accumulating 14 hits in their second victory of the Series del Caribe. Willians Astudillo and Luis Domoromo led the charge with three hits apiece. Luis was a perfect 3 for 3 on the day with one walk. Rafael Ortega led the game off with a homerun, his second of the series for Venezuela. Astudillo hit a solo shot in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie giving Mexico a lead they would not relinquish.

Chris Roberson hit a pinch hit two run homer in the 9th to put Mexico within two runs of a victory. A Fernando Perez single brought up pinch hitter Japhet Amador to represent the tying run. Venezuela went to Victor Capellan on the mound. An error by third baseman Niuman Romero put runners on first and third with one out. Walter Ibarra came to the plate representing the go ahead run. Capellan coaxed him into grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.

After the first three days Cuba is the only undefeated team at 2-0. Mexico at 0-3 is close to being eliminated from the Series del Caribe they are hosting. They need a victory over the Dominican Republic in their final game of pool play just to survive. Venezuela is assured of advancing with their 2-1 record and Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico sit at 1-1, both needing one more win to clinch an advance.

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