By Carlos Torres
HERMOSILLO, Mexico—Caribbean Series host Mexico became familiar last night with the old baseball saying, “All the tragedies begin with two outs."
In the top of the eighth inning Jose Ramirez (Indians) crowned a seven-run rally with a three-run home run to lead the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido to a 11-6 victory against Mexico's Yaquis de Ciudad Obregon and punch a ticket to the 2013 Caribbean Series title game.
Ramirez (Indians) faced Mexico's star reliever Luis Ayala (Orioles), and hit a fly ball over the right field fence, scoring Abraham Almonte (Yankees) and Julio Lugo. All the eighth-inning trouble for Mexico, which led 6-4, began when with one man on base Oscar Villarreal (Red Sox) struck out Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers) and Ricardo Nanita (Blue Jays). Then Miguel Tejada (Royals) singled and veteran Donell Linares walked. With the bases loaded, minor league veteran Luis Jimenez (Blue Jays) walked to plate for Escogido's fifth run.
Ayala replaced Villarreal but the nightmare continued as Almonte hit a two-run single to give the DR the lead. Lugo, pinch-hitting, singled to score another run,and then it was Jose Ramirez's turn that shut up the 16,000-plus crowd at the Estadio Sonora.
Under the new competition system in Caribbean Series, there is a one-game championship. Escogido is 4-1 with one game left with the rest of the field at 2-3, so the Leones are installed in the title game that is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Relief pitcher Willy Lebron won the game by pitching 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out three. He replaced the veteran Alfredo Figaro, who gave up six runs and seven hits in 3.2 innings. Jhonny Nunez (Rangers) and Fernando Rodney (Rays) held up the score out of Escogido's bullpen.
Villarreal took the loss, spoiling fine relief work by David Reyes, 21, who has pitched two seasons in Mexico's domestic league. He struck out seven in 4.1 scoreless, hitless innings in relief of Marco Carrillo, who gave up four runs in 2.2 innings.
Mexico had broken a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning when Alfredo Amezaga tripled home Agustin Murillo and then scored on Doug Clark's RBI single. Clark had three hits.
Puerto Rico 4, Venezuela 1
Puerto Rico´s Criollos de Caguas are alive and kicking on the 2013 Caribbean Series after defeating 4-1 Venezuela's Navegantes del Magallanes.
Puerto Rico lost its first three games but now is tied for second with a 2-3 mark, along with Venezuela and host Mexico. Puerto Rico and Mexico play Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and the winner could play for the championship game. Venezuela plays the Dominican at 4 p.m. and must win to stay alive.
Lefty Efrain Nieves (Tigers) started for Puerto Rico and pitched five innings, allowing one run on four hits, but the Caguas bullpen did the main work. Dereck Slacksher, a graduate from McNeese State who plays for independent Wichita (American Association), followed Nieves with two innings, with Ricardo Gomez (York, independent Atlantic League) and former major leaguer Saul Rivera closed the door. Rivera earned his second save in the Series.
Mario Lisson (Royals) homered in the second inning off Nieves to give Venezuela an early lead, but the Magallanes went scoreless thereafter. Ramon Castro homered in the fourth to tie the game, and Caguas took the lead in the fifth when minor league vet Jesus Feliciano (Rays) singled home Danny Ortiz (Twins). Feliciano scored a run in the eighth when Andy Gonzalez (White Sox) doubled him home, and Luis Mateo (Cardinals) hit an RBI single in the ninth, scoring Edgar Baez for the game's final run.