We’re counting down to the opening of spring camps, but a few Pirates’ players and friends have been busy in the Caribbean Series. This has started as a round robin style tournament, with each team playing two games against each other team.
The Dominican Republic team won their first four games, beating Mexico twice, and both Venezuela and Puerto Rico once. But tonight, the Dominicans (Los Leones del Escogido) were surprised by the Venezuelans, who held the DR to just 5 hits in a 7-0 shutout. Former Pirates played a big role for the Venezuelans — 1B Hector Gimenez hit a ground rule double and then scored in the 2nd inning for Venezuela (Los Tigres de Aragua). RF Jorge Cortes led off the 3rd inning with a triple, and scored on an RBI single. Cortes also started the big 4-run 5th inning with a walk. He scored on an RBI single, and a 3-run homer gave Venezuela a 6-0 lead. Gimenez capped off the scoring with a solo homer in the 8th.
This is only the second win for Venezuela in the series. They lost to Puerto Rico in their first game, and then took 13 innings to lose to the Dominican Republic in their second game. An RBI single and a 2-RBI double by the Dominicans made the difference in the top of the 13th. Venezuela lost to Mexico in their third game. Hector Gimenez managed only one hit over those three games, and Jorge Cortes and Jonel Pacheco were both scoreless in those three games. The Venezuelans earned their first win with a 7-0 victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday. Cortes walked and scored in the 1st game, and that slim lead held until the 7th, when he singled and came around to score as the Venezuelans scored twice. A 3-run triple and a wild pitch gave Venezuela 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th.
The Puerto Ricans (Indios de Mayaguez), led by former Indy Indian manager Dave Miley, has “borrowed” another former Indy Indian, infielder Luis Figueroa, for this series, and pitcher Nelson Figueroa is also back in Puerto Rico. Nelson Figueroa made the start for Puerto Rico in the first game. He gave up only one run on 7 hits in 6.2 innings, while striking out 8 batters. Puerto Rico lost to Mexico in their second game, when Luis Figueroa had one of Puerto Rico’s four hits. Figueroa singled in their loss to the Dominicans, but he scored the only Puerto Rican run when he reached base on an error, and came around to score on an RBI single. Nelson Figueroa made the start for Puerto Rico tonight, facing off against Mexico. Figueroa gave up a run in the 1st and 2 in the 3rd, but then settled down. He scattered three hits over the next three innings, keeping the Mexicans from scoring again. In the top of the 8th, Figueroa loaded the bases with two walks and a single. He was relieved, and the next batter, pinch hitter Humberto Cota, grounded into a double play to end the threat. 3B Luis Figueroa gave the Puerto Ricans 2 runs in the 3rd inning with a 2-RBI single. His sacrifice bunt, with an error on the play was key in the 8th inning, when Puerto Rico scored again to tie the game at 3-3. Then Luis was the hero in the bottom of the 9th, when his walk-off single drove in the winning run from second base. Puerto Rico now holds a 2-3 record in the series.
Mexico (Los Yaquis de Obregon) is tied with Puerto Rico with a 2-3 record. They defeated Puerto Rico 2-0 in their first contest, and won 4-2 over Venezuela. The Dominicans beat Mexico twice and lost to Puerto Rico on Sunday.
The final two games, Mexico vs Venezuela and Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic, will be played on Tuesday.
The Australian League has also been playing, though the teams with Pirates’ players are out of the competition. This past weekend, the Melbourne Aces, who lost to the Perth Heat in the first round, beat the #4 seeded Sydney Blue Sox, 3 games to 2. Melbourne took Game 1 by a 7-2 score. Both teams scored 2 runs in the 1st inning, but the Aces continued scoring, with 3 in the 2nd and 2 in the 5th. The Blue Sox evened the series with a 6-2 win in Game 2, scoring 5 of their 6 runs with homers. Sydney had all of their runs before generously allowing the Aces a run in the 7th and one in the 9th. The Aces came back in spades on Sunday, when they out-scored the Blue Sox 19 -7 and out-hit them 35 – 15 in two games. A pair of 4-run innings and a pair of 3-run innings gave Melbourne a 14-4 win in the early game. A 6-run inning was the big spark for the Aces in the second game of the day. The Blue Sox had two homers in each game; the Aces had 3 homers in each game, and had a player homer twice in each game. That gave the Aces the three games they needed to win that round.
The Perth Heat and the Melbourne Aces compete for the Claxton Shield (the big trophy) in a best-of-3 series which begins on Friday.