Escogido Leones wins Caribbean title
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Sometimes you win by losing as the Escogido Leones were soundly defeated Monday by Venezuela's Aragua Tigres, 7-0, but still clinched the Caribbean Series title.
Going into Monday's action, Escogido was 4-0 in the round robin format while Mexico's Ciudad Obregon Yaquis was 2-2 with Aragua and Puerto Rico's Mayaguez Indios lagging each at 1-3. However, Obregon lost to Mayaguez in the early game to play itself out of contention going into Monday's final day.
The Caribbean Series, which is celebrating its 54th edition this year, pits the champion team from each of the four winter leagues.
For Escogido general manager Moises Alou, this is his team's second Caribbean Series championship in three years and the first team to win it at home since the Mazatlan Venados did it in 2005.
"It's been a good run I've had here thus far," said Alou. "The players played hard all season and overall it's been a very good year."
Aragua's offense was highlighted by a towering three-run homer, the first one hit in the Series at cavernous Estadio Quisqueya, by Luis Jimenez, who drove home Cesar Suarez and Adonis Garcia to cap a four-run fifth and take a 6-0 lead off Escogido reliever Edward Valdez.
Hector Gimenez added Aragua's seventh run with a solo homer of his own in the eighth inning.
The Tigres jumped on Escogido starter Aneury Rodriguez (0-1), who yielded two runs, one of them unearned, over three innings to take the loss.
Aragua's Yorman Bazardo (1-0) held Escogido's potent line-up in check over six innings, spreading five hits and striking out two to earn the win.
In the early game, Luis Figueroa's RBI single, his third of the day, in the bottom of the ninth dashed Obregon's hopes of becoming the first team to win consecutive Caribbean Series titles in 12 years.
Tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, Obregon closer Luis Ayala (0-1) walked Johnny Monell to lead off the inning. After a successful sacrifice by Irving Falu, Jesus Feliciano was intentionally walked to pitch to Figueroa, who drove a fastball over shortstop Alex Amezaga for the game-winning RBI.
Obregon extended its lead to 3-0 in the third thanks to an RBI triple by Garcia, which plated Amezaga, and a sacrifice fly by Barbaro Canizares, which brought Garcia home.
Mayaguez came back in the fourth as Figueroa's single drove in Rene Rivera and Feliciano, who had singled and doubled to start the inning.
The win went to reliever Nelvin Fuentes, who pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief of Nelson Figueroa, who went 7 2/3 innings on three-days rest.
Javier Maymi covers baseball for ESPNdeportes.com.