Venezuela Wins Again

Two truths about the 2009 Caribbean Series, being held in Mexicali, Mexico, were evident on Day Four of the annual six-game series.

First, the Venezuelan team is the class of the series, and they proved it with their fourth straight win in the series, with today’s victory coming against the Dominican Republic team, 3-2.

The second truth is that every game in the Series is being to be competitive and hard-fought, as seen in both games but especially in the 12-inning night game won by Mexico over Puerto Rico, 5-1 in 12 innings.

Venezuela rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to continue their run towards the championship with their 3-2 victory. The Dominican team got on the board in the top half of the first inning on catcher Ronny Paulino’s long two-run homerun into the left field bleachers off Venezuelan starter Johan Pino.

The Venezuelan team took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the 3rd, with the first run coming on Jackson Melian’s two-out infield hit. Melian later scored the go ahead run on Selwyn Langaigne’s two run single just off the glove of second baseman Anderson Hernandez.

A host of Venezuelan relievers followed Pino into the game and shut down the Dominican hitters to preserve the win. Oswaldo Sosa pitched two scoreless innings in relief of fellow Twins farmhand Pino for the win. Francisco Butto picked up his third save of the series. Dominican starter Nerio Rodriguez was the losing pitcher.

The depth of their pitching staff is turning out to be Venezuelan’s key strength in the series. The rotation of pitchers was planned, according to manager Buddy Bailey, who compared his use of the staff to that of a spring training game. Bailey said after the game to expect the same strategy in game five with a variety of relievers following starter Erick Arteaga in the key match up against Mexico.

Mexico was faced with a “must-win” situation in the nightcap and dodged a bullet when Puerto Rico was unable to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities. Overall, the Puerto Rican team had 12 hits but left 13 runners on base. The biggest threat was when Puerto Rico loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning before Raul Gonzalez grounded into a double play to kill the rally.

After leaving the bases loaded in the top half of the 11th, Mexico finally broke it open in the 12th  with four runs. Miguel Ojeda walked  to lead off the inning and then advanced to third base on a throwing error by Puerto Rican first baseman Carlos Rivera on Heber Gomez’s attempted bunt. Christian Quintero finally broke the tie with a single up the middle off new pitcher Travis Minix. With two outs in the inning, Freddy Sandoval and Edgar V. Gonzalez hit back to back doubles to put the game out of reach.

Gonzalez led the Mexico attack with four hits, one night after his brother, Adrian, slammed three homeruns to lead the team to a 12-9 win over the Dominican Republic. Starters Pablo Ortega (Mexico) and Bill Pulsipher (Puerto Rico) both went 6 1/3 innings and each yielded a run. Jose Luis Garcia pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win. Juan Padilla was the losing pitcher.