Caribbean Series Day Six

Puerto Rico snags second with win over Dominican Republic





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CAROLINA, P.R.--Dominican Republic fans hung around Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium for hours after the final game of the 2007 Caribbean Series, with car horns honking, music blaring and dancing and chanting in the parking lot.

Even though they lost 1-0 to Puerto Rico.

It was only once, but just based on the gutsy performance of righthander Jose Lima--who allowed just three hits over the first eight brilliant innings--was enough to have these fans teetering on the edge all night long.

But after Lima gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth to Armando Rios--by far Puerto Rico’s best hitter in the tournament--Juan Gonzalez singled and put runners on first and second with no outs.

Dominican manager Felix Fermin brought in lefthander Arnaldo Munoz (White Sox) to face Javier Valentin, who singled home Rios to score the game’s lone run.

Lima fired up the Dominican fans inning after inning with his four-foot leaps over the line to greet his teammates, his constant celebrating after ending each inning by pointing to the crowd and pumping his fist, and of course, his demonstrative behavior on the mound.

When he walked Rios with one out in the ninth on a close strike call on a 3-2 changeup, Lima was clearly offended--both by the umpire’s call and Rios’ chatter. The two exchanged words, then Lima bowed and stuck his tongue out at him before digging in against Gonzalez.

“I said I would not give up a home run to (Rios) in this kind of situation and he was upset that he didn’t get much to swing at,” Lima said. “So he goes down the line and starts talking to me. So I talked back. I’m not going to take that from anybody, and I wasn’t going to give him anything good to hit. No way.”

With the win, Puerto Rico finished second with a 3-2 record, while the Dominicans had already won the Series before the game even started, beating each team twice--except the country that is a 12-hour boat ride away. After the game, Dominican Republic third baseman Tony Batista was named the series MVP.

But the story of the Series somehow was this game--the sell-out crowd involved on every pitch, the back-and-forth changes in momentum, and the performance by Lima.

“It was a great, great game,” Dominican third base coach Tim Lieper said. “Lima’s been doing that for us all year. We never score any runs for him, and he always keeps us in it--and never wants to leave out there.”

“I could have gone further and further, inning after inning tonight,” Lima said. “Just knowing that we were going home a champion no matter what happens. This game was my show--this game was the greatest game of the Series to me.”

Even if the Dominicans were on the losing end.

MEXICO 4, VENEZUELA 3: The first game Wednesday was tight also, but Mexico got the monkey off its back with its first win of the Series, a 4-3 victory over Venezuela.

And of course, that game-winning run trotted home in the bottom of the ninth inning also.

With the score tied 3-3, Mexico righthander Mauricio Tequida closed out Venezuela in the top half of the inning, and Heber Gomez led off the bottom half with a leadoff triple to center field.

And just one batter later, Geronimo Gil singled to right, scoring Gomez and finally giving the Mexican fans something to cheer about.

“It’s great to go finish my career like this,” Mexico third baseman Vinny Castilla, who retired after the game, said. “To have my country go out of this tournament a winner is special.”