Series del Caribe Openers with Two Nestors Winning

A lot of new teams representing their country in the Series del Caribe. Las Tunas is representing Cuba for the first time. The same applies to Charros de Jalisco, who is representing Mexico for the first time. Panama is playing for the first time since prior to 1960 when they were one of the regulars participating in the tournament. Their only championship is 1950. Estrellas Orientales last represented the Dominican Republic way back in 1968. Lara was supposed to host the tournament but the violence there forced the organizers to move the games to Panama. Lara last represented Venezuela in 2001. Only Santurce is a regular in these competitions, last representing Puerto Rico in 2016.

Because major league spring training is beginning next week the organizers did not have much time to hold the tournament. With six teams in the tournament the traditional pool of everyone playing each other was scraped. The six teams are broken out into three team pools with the top team in each pool slated to play each other in the championship. The double headers will be played at Rod Carew stadium.

The opening salvos began yesterday with the Dominican Republic shutting down two time defending champion Puerto Rico 3-1. Nestor Cortes restricted the Puerto Rican bats to just one hit in five innings. Three different relievers worked the final four innings and held the Puerto Rican bats hitless, with Jumbo Diaz pitching a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth Diego Goris drew a bases loaded walk to give the Dominicans the go ahead run. A wild pitch with a runner on third in the top of the ninth gave the Dominicans an insurance run. Meanwhile the Puerto Ricans could not buy a hit. Their only hit came in the fourth on a David Vidal RBI single, after a walk and hit by pitch put two runners on.

In the nightcap Venezuela trounced Mexico 5-1. Carlos Rivera went deep with a two run homer in the sixth, the first homerun in the tournament. Luis Jimenez drove in a run with a single in the fourth and then scored a run in the sixth. Another Nestor, this one Molina, worked five innings of four hit one run ball to get the win. The Venezuelan bullpen then limited Mexico to one hit in the final four innings.

Today Panama will make their debut against the Dominican Republic to show they belong in the Series del Caribe. The opener will see Cuba take on Mexico.

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