Lots of playoff action in the winter leagues on Friday night:
Toros del Este 2, Estrellas de Oriente 1 — SS Pedro Ciriaco, who has not been in Los Toros’ recent playoff games, started off the scoring in this game. He singled to lead off the 3rd inning, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. He stole second base, and scored on an RBI single. Ciriaco also reached base on an error in the 5th, and made it as far as third base, but did not score. Los Toros scored again on a walk and two singles in the 7th inning. Los Toros’ starter Fernando Abad pitched 6 no-hit innings, including 6 strikeouts. The only runner to reach base against him got there on a fielding error in the 6th, and Abad finished the inning with two grounder force outs. Reliever Jairo Asencio followed Abad with 2 perfect innings. Los Estrellas’ only hit and only run came in the top of the 9th, when reliever Julio Manon gave up a walk and a double, and the runner from third base scored on a wild pitch. Los Toros have won the first three games of this 9-game series.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 1, Criollos de Caguas 0 — Pitching ruled in the Puerto Rican League also. Ponce starter Willie Collazo pitched 9 shut-out innings, allowing just 2 singles and 2 walks. SS Luis Figueroa walked in the 1st inning, and he was Los Criollos’ only base runner for the first 6 innings. Collazo allowed a single and a walk in the 7th, and another single in the 8th. Los Leones posted 7 hits and had 5 walks, but they fell victim to 4 double plays, and left 8 runners on base. The only run scored in the 2nd, when the inning opened with a double and two singles. One of the double plays cut the rally short. This series is now tied at one game each.
Cheering for Pirates’ players (the few who are left) and friends in the winter leagues……
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 6, Gigantes de Carolina 3 — Four runs in the bottom of the 8th gave the game to Los Leones. Two walks and four singles did the damage in that inning. Reliever RJ Rodriguez came on to pitch the top of the 9th for Ponce. He gave up a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly, though it was not enough for Los Gigantes to catch up.
Criollos de Caguas 7, Senadores de San Juan 3 — A 5-run 3rd inning made the difference for Los Criollos. Two singles put runners on the corners, then SS Luis Figueroa drove in the first run with an RBI single. A triple and a homer added two runs each. 3B Ramon Vazquez walked to begin the Caguas half of the 4th, and two more walks loaded the bases. Figueroa brought in Vazquez with a sacrifice fly. Vazquez also contributed an RBI single in the 5th. Los Senadores posted 13 runs, but left 12 runners on base.
The four teams involved in the Puerto Rican League playoffs are not far apart after one week of the round robin playoff tournament. Ponce is in first place, with a 4-2 record. Caguas and San Juan are tied for second with 3-3 records. Carolina is last, with a 2-4 record.
The two top teams in this round robin tournament did not play today — Los Caribes and Los Leones de Caracas are both tied with 4-1 records. Los Tigres de Aragua has a 3-3 record, Los Aguilas de Zulia are 2-4, and Los Bravos de Margarita won their first playoff game tonight, giving them a 1-4 record.
Bravos de Margarita 1, Aguilas de Zulia 0 — Jean Machi pitched a scoreless 8th inning for Los Bravos, allowing a single, but then erasing that runner in a double play. The game’s only run came in the bottom of the 7th, on a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a RBI single.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Caribes de Anzoategui 0 — Aragua starter Seth Etherton (Dodgers) held Los Caribes to 3 hits and no walks over 8 shutout innings, with 6 strikeouts for the win. New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma finished the game with a scoreless 9th, working around a lead-off single. Los Tigres hitters packed in 16 hits, and started their scoring with 2 runs in the 1st. LF Lastings Milledge had a single in that inning. Milledge singled in two runs in the 6th, following another single and 1B Hector Gimenez being hit by a pitch. Gimenez added a 3-run homer in the 7th. After the homer, Milledge walked, CF Jorge Cortes singled, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Another single up the middle brought in Milledge, but Cortes was thrown out at the plate as he tried to score from second base.
Not many winter league playoff games today, but a few player moves:
LHP Wil Ledezma had been DFA’ed right before Christmas, and yesterday he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays.
Both INF Delwyn Young and RHP Brian Bass signed minor league contracts with the Phillies today.
Earlier in the week, RHP Joe Martinez, who had also been DFA’ed by the Pirates shortly before Christmas, was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.
Leones del Caracas 11, Bravos de Margarita 3 — Los Leones posted 14 hits, which was enough to make up for their 3 errors. Three singles and a Bravos’ fielding error gave Los Leones their first 3 runs in the 2nd inning. In the third, the first six Caracas batters reached base — a double, two singles, and three walks (including a walk by LF Mike Ryan) — then a sacrifice fly and another single gave Los Leones 5 runs. A 3-run homer in the 8th capped their scoring. Margarita scored one run in the 6th, with the help of one of those errors. An error by Ryan in left field, plus a walk and two singles (one by C JR House) brought in two more runs in the 9th. Ronald Uviedo earned the win for Caracas, going 6 innings and allowing only the unearned run in the 6th inning, on 3 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts.
Caribes de Anzoategui 5, Tigres de Aragua 4 — New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma came into the game for Los Tigres in the 6th inning with one run in and runners on the corners. Ledezma gave up a single, which broke a 4-4 tie, and eventually gave the win to Los Caribes. Ledezma also retired the side in order in the 7th. Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a double, an error, and a sacrifice fly. Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, when 1B Hector Gimenez walked, then scored on an RBI double. Gimenez added a 2-run homer in the 4th, and another homer in the 5th gave Aragua their 4 runs. LF Lastings Milledge singled and stole second base in the 6th, and advanced to third base on another single, but he got no further. C Raul Chavez went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres.
The Mexican Pacific League started their playoffs on New Years’ Day. Los Tomateros De Culiacan beat Los Venados de Mazatlan 4-3, and Rogelios Noris did not get into the game. It took 11 innings for Los Caneros de Los Mochis to beat Los Algodoneros de Guasave 7-6. Yurendell de Caster singled in a run for Guasave in the 6th. More playoff games, including Puerto Rican and Dominican games, on Sunday.
Adelaide Bite 12, Canberra Cavalry 1 — This game ended after the top of the 7th, with the Bite ahead by more than 10 runs (international rules). The Cavalry started off well, with a run in the top of the 1st on an error and an RBI double. But that was the only hit and the only run they would get. Bite starter Darren Fidge pitched 5 innings and struck out 7 batters, while allowing the one run, one hit, and one walk. Two relievers each pitched a perfect inning. The Bite started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, loading the bases with a single and two walks. Quincy Latimore, in center field today, struck out swinging, but strike three was a wild pitch, which allowed the runner from third base to score. An RBI ground out brought in a second run. The Bite powered up in the 4th inning, with three home runs — a solo homer, a double followed by a 2-run homer, and a batter reaching on an error, followed by another 2-run homer. Latimore also walked in that inning, after all the homers, but was left on base. The Cavalry changed pitchers, bringing Rinku Singh on to pitch the 5th inning, but he did not have much better luck. A single, a walk, and another single loaded the bases. An RBI single and an RBI ground out drove in one run each, and another came in on a throwing error. Latimore also grounded out to drive in a run, and Singh was charged with 4 runs (3 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks. The Cavalry tried another pitcher for the bottom of the 6th, and he got one out, then walked three consecutive batters. A wild pitch must have bounced just right, because the Cavalry catcher and pitcher were able to tag the runner from third out at the plate. They were not as lucky with the next wild pitch, as the Bite scored their final run.
Sydney Blue Sox 10, Perth Heat 3 — The Blue Sox took an early lead with 4 runs in the 1st and 3 runs in the 2nd. Then they added 2 more in the 5th and one in the 6th. Perth scratched out a run in the 5th and 2 runs in the 6th. Jarryd Sullivan pitched the bottom of the 9th for the Blue Sox. He walked the first batter of the inning, then got a grounder force out, a strikeout, and a fly out to end the game.
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:
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.