SANTIAGO, D.R.–Ronnie Belliard drove in four runs and Carlos Marmol finished things off for Licey, downing Venezuela, 6-4 in the Caribbean Series opener Saturday night.
Leading 5-1 in the fifth, Aragua rallied for three runs against Carlos Perez, but the Licey bullpen, anchored by the Cubs’ reliever, proved to be the difference.
The closest Venezuela came was in the bottom of the eighth trailing by a run. Aragua loaded the bases with two outs against Oneli Perez, and manager Hector De La Cruz brought in Marmol to face Aragua designated hitter Alexis Nunez. The righthander challenged him immediately, and Nunez drilled a 92 mph fastball to the deepest part of El Stadio Cibao.
But center fielder Jose Bautista tracked it down, casually bouncing into the wall for good measure.
Marmol was untouchable in the ninth, locking down the opening night victory.
Licey will play Mexico in the early game Sunday, while Venezuela draws Aguilas.