Winter League Playoffs 1/5– Strong Start For Figueroa, Welch Homers
Checking in on Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league play:
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Aguilas del Zulia 2
Exicardo Cayones made a start in center field for Los Caribes and scored a run for them. Los Caribes got started with 3 runs in the 1st inning, on 3 singles, a walk, and an RBI ground out. Los Aguilas scored 2 runs in the 4th, with a single, a double, and another RBI ground out. Los Caribes added a run in the 4th inning, aided by a fielding error, and another run in the 7th, with a walk and a double. In the 8th, after a lead-off single, Cayones reached base on a grounder force out. Two wild pitches advanced him to third base, and he crossed the plate on an RBI single. Another single and a sacrifice fly brought in the second run of the inning. Cayones also walked in the 6th inning, but was left on base.
Tiburones de La Guaira 3, Tigres de Aragua 1
A low-scoring game, and low-hitting also, with only 7 hits between the two teams. Los Tiburones’ 3B Oscar Salazar (Marlins) was responsible for all of their runs, with a solo homer in the 1st, and a 2-run homer after a walk in the 3rd. A walk, a wild pitch, and a single plated the only run for Los Tigres, coming in the 4th inning. CF Jorge Cortes went 0-for-2 for Los Tigres. Jonel Pacheco came out to pinch-hit for Cortes, but he was called back when Los Tiburones changed pitchers. The new pinch-hitter Hector Gimenez popped out.
Leones del Escogido 3, Aguilas Cibaenas 2
Former Pirate Shane Youman made the start for Los Aguilas, and Pirate minor league Nelson Figueroa made the start for Los Leones. Each pitched at least 7 innings (7.1 for Youman), each allowed one run. Youman gave up 6 hits, while Figueroa allowed 5. Youman struck out 9 and walked one; Figueroa struck out 6 and walked two. Strong starts for both, but both left the game with the score tied, so neither was involved in the decision. RF Brandon Moss doubled in the run for Los Aguilas in the 6th inning. The tie lasted until the top of the 9th, when Los Aguilas put a runner on base due to a throwing error, and a second throwing error allowed the runner to advance to 3rd. An RBI single brought the go-ahead run in. But Los Leones were not done — a double and a single tied the score again, then a throwing error on a pick-off throw allowed the runner to reach third base. A sacrifice fly gave Los Leones the walk-off win. 2B Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3 for Los Aguilas.
Gigantes del Cibao 3, Tigres del Licey 1
Each team scored a run in the 4th — a double and two singles, including one by Ronny Paulino, brought in one run for Los Tigres in the top of the inning; a single and two walks loaded the bases for Los Gigantes in the bottom of the inning, and a sacrifice fly plated the run. Los Gigantes kept going, with a run in the 5th on a bases-loaded RBI ground out. They added an insurance run in the 7th with a double, a single, and a squeeze bunt. Former Pirate farmhand reliever CJ Nitkowski (Indy Indians 2006), made his first Dominican League appearance of the season for Los Gigantes. He entered the game in the 6th with two on and two out, and ended the inning with a tapper back to the mound. Then he retired the side in order in the 7th. Nitkowski has not played in the US since his season with the Indy Indians in 2006. 3B Yamaico Navarro went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres, and made a throwing error in the 6th.
Melbourne Aces 11, Adelaide Bite 1
The Bite’s only run came in the top of the 9th, on a solo home run by 3B Stefan Welch. The Bite posted only 5 hits, and 3 of those belonged to Welch. Besides the homer, he doubled to lead off the 4th, but was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from third on 1B Calvin Anderson’s fly out. Welch doubled again in the 6th, but was left on base. The Aces were scoreless for the first three innings of the game, then scored in each of their remaining innings, including 3 runs in the 6th and 4 runs in the 7th. Anderson went 0-for-4 at the plate.
Canberra Cavalry 4, Sydney Blue Sox 2
C Travis Scott’s ground out put a runner into scoring position for the Cavalry, as they scored one run in the 2nd inning. Scott also hit the third of three consecutive singles to lead off the 6th inning for Canberra. A sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt brought in two runs in that inning, and the Cavalry added an insurance run with a solo homer in the 8th. The Blue Sox scored on two solo homers, one in the 6th and one in the 7th.