Through three decades of Caribbean Series play Mexico was the afterthought.
Francisco Campos turned in another brilliant outing and Mexican
champion Mazatlan held on in the final game of a marathon lineup of
baseball, edging the Dominican Republic 4-3 to win the Caribbean Series.
The title is just Mexico’™s fifth since joining the competition in 1970, but its second in the last four years.
“The other two times we’™ve finished second” said Mexican league
president Renato Vega, pointing out that the streak has coincided with
his ascension to the post in 2002.
Campos allowed just three hits–two infield hits and a bunt single ‘“
and a run over his first eight innings of work, striking out 11. He
tired in the ninth however, walking Luis Polonia and yielding a single
to Miguel Tejada before getting replaced by Jose Luis Garcia.
Matt Cepicky cut Mexico’™s lead to 4-2 with an RBI single and Ronnie
Belliard brought them within one with a run-scoring single off of
Mexican closer Luis Ayala.
Ayala, however, got out of the jam with a double play and a weak
ground ball, sending those fans who stayed until 2 a.m. into a jubilant
“I was completely confident that we were going to win,” said Campos. “It was the game of my life.”
The game didn’™t begin until close to 1 a.m. Eastern time (11 p.m. in
Mazatlan). Rain Saturday washed out play and forced all four teams to
play doubleheaders Sunday.
The loss defused a Dominican team that had won two straight games
after arriving late and losing its first two of the six-game
If the Dominicans (2-3) had won Sunday a victory over Puerto Rico
(1-4) in their makeup game Monday would have forced a tiebreaking game
for the title with Mexico. Instead they will play for a share of second
place with Venezuela (3-3), which dropped both of its games Sunday, to
the Dominicans (5-1) and Puerto Rico (4-3, 12 innings). Mexico beat
Puerto Rico in their afternoon game, 5-0.
Puerto Rico’™s victory ‘“ Randy Ruiz delivered the game-winning home
run in the 12th–ended a streak of 12 straight Series losses dating
back to 2003. It wasn’™t enough, however, for them to escape a second
straight last-place finish.
“I was pretty confident. I knew I could get that final out. We believed in ourselves,” said Ayala.
Mexico’™s quick strike offense again broke through early against
Dominican starter Francisco Pena, scoring twice in the opening inning.
Trenidad Hubbard opened the game with a single and Vinny Castilla drew
a walk. Derrick White then plated them with a double. Mazatlan added to
its lead in the fifth on a two-run home run by Erubiel Durazo.
Pena worked five innings, allowing four hits and four runs and
taking the loss. The Dominicans team had won six of the last eight
competitions and was favored to win this one as well. But things began
going wrong even before the tournament began. Their charter flight from
Santo Domingo was overbooked and eventually canceled, forcing the
Dominican team to miss its opening game with Puerto Rico.
“Obviously we’™re not happy, but we’™ll win it next year,” said Dominican shortstop Miguel Tejada.