Winter League Season Ends

The Venezuelan, Mexican Pacific, and Puerto Rican Leagues wrap up their regular season play today.  Everyone is off for New Year’s Eve, and playoff games begin soon after.  A few of the Pirates’ players and friends in tonight’s action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes  de Anzoategui  2,  Navegantes del Magallanes  1  —  
C JR House had the second of three consecutive singles to lead off the top of the 7th for Los Navegantes, when they scored their only run of the game.  That run tied the game at 1-1, after Los Caribes had scored one run in the 5th on a fielding error and a double.  But Los Caribes broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with a pair of doubles, and took the win.

Aguilas de Zulia   8,  Cardenales de Lara  7  —  Los Aguilas posted 16 hits and piled up their runs in the middle innings, and were leading 8-1 going into the top of the 9th.  Romulo Sanchez pitched the top of the 9th for Lara, and retired the side in order.  Then in the bottom of the inning. Los Cardenales rallied with three singles, two doubles, and a 2-run homer, scoring 6 runs.  But with two runners still on base, a fly out ended the game, and Los Cardenales fell one run short of catching up.

 
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (Round Robin Playoff Series)
Toros del Este  2,  Leones del Escogido  1  —  
A pitching duel, with each team posting only 5 hits.  Los Toros scored 2 runs in the 4th on two consecutive fielding errors, a single, a walk to force in one run, and an RBI ground out.  Two singles and a ground out gave Los Leones their only run in the top of the 9th.  SS Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3, plus he reached on a fielding error in the 3rd and stole second base.  

Estrellas de Oriente   9,  Gigantes del Cibao  0  —  DH Ronny Paulino was Los Estrellas’ heavy hitter for the second night in a row.  He went 3-for-3, walked, scored twice, and drove in a run.  He singled to lead off the 2nd inning, though did not score.  He singled again to lead off the 4th, moved to third on a double, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  Another run came in on two more singles and a walk.  Paulino singled for the third time in the 5th inning, but was left on base.  Los Estrellas rallied for 6 runs in the 6th inning.  A walk, a single, and a hit batter loaded the bases, then Paulino picked up his RBI when he walked to force in a run.  A single and a wild pitch each brought in a run.  A ground out scored Paulino, and one more single drove in 2 runs.  A solo homer gave Los Estrellas their final run in the 7th.  Los Gigantes were held to just 6 hits, and two of those were by RF Rich Thompson.  He singled to open the 5th, but was out at second on a force play.  Thompson doubled in the 7th inning, and was left on base.  

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Big Night For Paulino And Mildren

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends (some from the way-back machine) in Wednesday’s winter league action:

DOMINICAN LEAGUE   (Round robin playoff series)
Leones del Escogido  4,  Gigantes del Cibao  2  —  
A 2-run homer in the top of the 7th made the difference for Los Leones.  LF/RF Rich Thompson went 0-for-2 for Los Gigantes, with a walk.  He also dropped down a sacrifice bunt following a single in the bottom of the 9th, moving the runner to second base.  Another single brought in Los Gigantes’ run in that inning.  Former Indy Indian (2000 – 02) Tim Harikkala pitched 2.2 innings for Los Gigantes.  He finished the 4th inning, then pitched two scoreless innings, but gave up the 2-run homer in the 7th.  

Estrellas de Oriente  9,  Toros del Este  2  –  DH Ronny Paulino had 3 hits and an RBI for Los Estrellas.  The RBI came with a single in the bottom of the 1st inning, following two other singles.  He singled again in the 3rd, and tried to score on a double, but Paulino never was the fastest runner, and he was out at the plate.  Paulino led off the 6th inning with a single, which started a 5-run rally, including a 2-run homer.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce  8,  Senadores de San Juan  6  —  
A 4-run rally in the 8th was not enough for Los Senadores to catch up.  Then they had to deal with RJ Rodriguez in the 9th.  Rodriguez picked up his 13th save of the season for Los Leones, with a 1-2-3 inning.  

Criollos de Caguas  8,  Indios de Mayaguez  2  —  Eight runs in the 3rd inning were all Los Criollos needed.  They recorded 5 singles, 4 walks, a triple, and a sacrifice fly (by SS Luis Figueroa) as 13 batters came to the plate in the inning.  

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  9,  Navegantes del Magallanes  2  —  
Los Caribes capped their scoring with a 4-run 8th inning, and Los Navegantes could not keep up.  C JR House had two hits and a walk for Los Navegantes, but did not get to score.  He walked in the top of the 1st but was left stranded.  He doubled in the 3rd, but runners were left on second and third bases in that inning, and in the 9th, he singled and was again left on base.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE
Adelaide Bite  4,  Canberra Cavalry  0  —  Former Altoona Curve Paul Mildren pitched 8 stellar innings for the Bite, allowing only 2 hits and no walks, while striking out 9 Canberra batters.  Mildren worked around a 2-out single and a batter reaching base on an error in the 2nd inning, then allowed a lead-off single in the 4th.  Then he finished his night by retiring 15 straight batters.  The Bite scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a walk, a double, and a 2-RBI single by LF Quincy Latimore.  A 2-run homer gave them some insurance in the 2nd inning, and that was all the scoring there would be in the game.  Latimore singled again in the 5th inning, but was left on base.  

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Bit Hits For House And Thompson

Just a few more days in the winter leagues’ regular seasons…

DOMINICAN LEAGUE (round robin playoff series)
Leones del Escogido  6,  Gigantes del Cibao  4  —  
Three runs in the bottom of the 6th gave Los Leones the win, despite being out-hit 13 – 12.  Former Pirate Rich Thompson made his first Dominican League appearance, playing right and center field for Los Gigantes.  He singled twice and walked, and drove in Los Gigantes’ first run in the top of the 2nd inning.  

Toros del Este  4,  Estrellas de Oriente  0  —  Los Estrellas also had the better hit totals (8-6) but still lost when they couldn’t push any runners across the plate.  DH Ronny Paulino, taken from Los Tigres del Licey in the pre-playoff draft, doubled for Los Estrellas.  

 
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce  7,  Gigantes de Carolina  1  (Game 1)  —  
Los Leones scored in each of the last four innings of the 7-inning game, posting 12 hits.  Los Gigantes managed only 4 hits, and scored their only run on a solo homer in the bottom of the 7th.  Eric Krebs came in from the bullpen for Los Gigantes when another reliever was ejected (after hitting a batter).  Krebs threw a wild pitch, moving runners to second and third bases.  A ground out brought in the runner from third base (charged to the previous pitcher), then Krebs ended the inning with a strikeout.

Leones  7,  Gigantes  6  (Game 2)  —  Benji Gonzalez got the start at second base for Los Gigantes.  He doubled to lead off the bottom of the 1st, and scored on a ground out and a fielding error.  Gonzalez walked to load the bases in the 5th, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Gigantes a second run.  Ponce scored 3 runs in the 3rd on two singles and two doubles, then 2 runs in the 5th on a single, a walk, and a 2-RBI triple.  A single and a pair of doubles gave them two more in the top of the 7th, and Los Gigantes were behind 7-2 going into the bottom of the 7th (a 7-inning game).  With RJ Rodriguez on the mound for Los Leones, Los Gigantes rallied in the bottom of 7th.  Gonzalez opened the frame with a walk, then went to second base on a passed ball.  With two outs (both strikeouts), A double plated Gonzalez, then a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple gave Los Gigantes two more runs.  The second wild pitch of the inning brought in the 4th run.  CF Luis Matos was hit by a pitch, but Rodriguez finally got a third strikeout to end the inning and the game.

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Wins For Ascanio And Ledezma, Loss For Nieve

Looking in on Pirates’ players and friend in Monday’s winter league action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  6,  Cardenales de Lara  5  —  
Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Leones and Jose Ascanio the win.  Los Cardenales were leading 5-4 in the top of the 8th, when Ascanio came in from the bullpen with one out and a runner on first base.  Ascanio’s catcher picked the runner off first base, recorded as a caught stealing, then Ascanio got a ground out to end the inning.  He gave up a single in the top of the 9th, but kept Los Cardenales from scoring.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, with Ray Sadler coming in to play center field for Lara, Los Leones eked out a single and a walk.  A passed ball on ball four put runners on the corners for Los Leones.  A single into center field drove n the run from third, for the walk-off win.  Ascanio was the pitcher of record, so was credited with his first Venezuelan League win.  

Bravos de Margarita  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  0  —  LF Jose Tabata went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Caribes, who recorded 8 hits, but could not push any of their base runners across the plate.  They left a total of 11 runners on base and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a double, two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.  A solo homer added a fourth run in the 6th.  Jhonathan Ramos came on to pitch for Margarita in the 7th, with two outs.  He loaded the bases with a single and two walks, then was relieved, but due to Los Caribes’ lack of luck, another reliever got Tabata to fly out to end the inning, leaving three runners on base.

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Navegantes del Magallanes  3  —  Fernando Nieve struggled through 2.2 innings and was eventually charged with the loss for Magallanes.  He gave up a solo homer to the second batter of the game, then gave up two runs in the 2nd on two singles and a double.  Three singles and a double steal brought in two more runs for Zulia in the 3rd, and that was all for Nieve — 5 runs on 8 hits, no walks, with 4 strikeouts.  Two more singles added another run for Los Aguilas in the top of the 7th.  Los Navegantes started their scoring in the bottom of the 7th.  Former Pirate farmhand JR House, who made the jump over from the Dominican League, came into the game as a pinch-runner after a 2-out single.  A walk and an RBI single allowed House to score Magallanes’ first run.  House remained in the game to play first base, and he flied out in the 9th.  A walk, a double, and a fielding error gave Los Navegantes 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Tiburones de La Guaira  3  —  Wil Ledezma also earned his first Venezuelan League win with 1.2 hitless and scoreless innings of work.  Los Tigres started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, when SS Ronny Cedeno reached base on a fielding error, then scored on a double.  C Raul Chavez blasted a 2-run homer in the 2nd, to give Aragua a 3-0 lead.  Los Tiburones scored 2 runs in the top of the 3rd on three singles and two walks, then tied the score in the top of the 4th on a double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out.  Ledezma came in from the bullpen in the 4th, and ended the 4th, then retired the side in order in the 5th.  He was still the pitcher of record when Los Tigres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Chavez walked, and moved to second base on CF Jorge Cortes’ sacrifice bunt.  Cedeno singled, putting runners on the corners, then a sacrifice fly plated Chavez.  A 2-run homer by DH Wilson Ramos brought in Cedeno.  1B Hector Gimenez also doubled after the homer.  Three walks, including one by Gimenez, and a wild pitch gave Los Tigres an insurance run in the 8th.  

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Nice Start For Claggett, Key Doubles For Ciriaco and Noris

MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday).  Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.  
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Cardenales de Lara  3,  Bravos de Margarita 1  —  Anthony Claggett
pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header.  The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base.  A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run.  After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch.  Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly.  Claggett left the game with the score tied.  He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.  

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Tigres de Aragua  1  —  SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss.  Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single.  Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats.  C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.  

Leones del Caracas   8,  Navegantes del Magallanes  4  —  Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los  Navegantes in their loss.  Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out.  The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base.  He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score.  Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.

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