SANTIAGO, D.R.–Nelson Cruz hit a 1-0 fastball down the middle in the bottom of eighth inning, lifting it out of El Stadio Cibao and Licey past Venezuela, 2-1.
Venezuelan righthander Victor Moreno had just entered the game for his first inning of work with the score tied 1-1, but made a huge mistake, leaving a fastball up in the middle of the zone and Cruz pounced on it.
"I saw it, the ball was very big and I just let it all go," Cruz said. "Last night’s game was so emotional, but you start to realize just how emotional every one of these games are. You can’t take anything for granted."
Venezuela (1-3) fought hard, and the game was scoreless through six innings. Licey (4-0) struck first in the bottom of the seventh, when Yordany Ramirez beat out the backend of a doubleplay at first base with one out. That allowed Jose Offerman to score and the crowd erupted.
But Licey reliever Jorge Sosa tried to blow a first-pitch fastball past Alexander Delgado, and Delgado drilled it into the left-field bleachers to knot the score at 1-1.
Sosa couldn’t find the strike zone after that, walking two of the next three hitters he faced. Licey manager Hector De La Cruz had seen enough, and brought in Jesus Colome, who got Robert Perez to hit a weak pop fly to short.
Licey draws Mexico (0-3) in the early game Wednesday, while Venezuela will have the chance again to play the spoiler against Aguilas at 7 p.m.