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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Caribbean Series: Clash between monsters

Por MRod

As in the old days, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the two major sports rivals in the area, will fight in a game for the Caribbean Series baseball championship. Both teams have to overcome an adverse score and defeated Cuba and Venezuela in their paths to the crown of the most important event in the region.

The Aguilas Cibaeñas and the Puerto Rican Criollos de Caguas came from behind after the fifth inning to defeat Granma Alazanes of Cuba and the Caribes de Angoátegui of Venezuela, respectively, in the Jalisco 2018 semifinals, last Wednesday, at the Charros de Jalisco stadium in Guadalajara. Ronny Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the sixth to go 3-2 and Edwin Espinal hit a two-run single in the seventh to break a 3-3 tie and direct Aguilas’ triumph. Espinal, outfielder Junior Lake and second baseman Gustavo Nunez got two hits each. Reliever Ramón Ramírez has credited the win with two scoreless innings, leading a great performance for the Dominican relievers, which limited Cuba to a solo homer by Frederich Cepeda in 7.2 innings.

Josh Judy gained his second save and Cuban Miguel Lahera was defeated. "Now we are in the final, I am very proud of my boys because we started down 0-3 and came from behind. We are used to doing it," said Lino Rivera, the Puerto Rican manager of the Dominican club. Earlier, Anzoátegui were winning 4-0 to Caguas in the sixth inning, when outfielder Anthony Garcia dispatched a home run with full bases to tie the score. Venezuela took the lead 5-4 in the seventh with a hit by catcher Tomás Telis, but Puerto Rico tied and took the lead with two more in the eighth. Robby Rowland was the winning pitcher and Mayckol Guaipe was the defeated.

''What can I say about my team? My team likes to come from behind, and they always want to keep fighting, said Luis Matos, the manager of the Criollos. The chemistry of this team can be compared to that of last year's team. We are warriors", added Matos, who tries to convert Caguas into the first Puerto Rican team with consecutive titles in Series del Caribe. While Puerto Rico, current champion of the tournament, advanced to its second consecutive final and third in five years, the Dominican Republic reached its first final since 2013, when a decisive match was established for the title in the calendar of the contest.

In the 60-year history of the Caribbean Series, Dominican teams lead the title race, with 19, while Puerto Ricans are second, with 15. Individually, Aguilas (5) and Criollos (4) are placed second and third place, behind the Dominican Tigers of the Licey. Although it is the first time that the two Caribbean giants advance simultaneously to a final contest, on four previous occasions teams of the two countries have collided in an extra game to decide the winner of the title, which was the closest thing to a final.