Pitcher Victor Moreno helped his Caracas Leones, champion of Venezuela, capture the 36th Caribbean Series championship Tuesday night as they came back to defeat the Dominican Republic by the score of 5 to 4.
Down 4-3 in the top of the ninth, the 26-year-old righthander was called upon with two Dominican runners in scoring position with one out and pitched out of the jam. His teammates scored two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame for the turnaround win.
The Series came down to this final game. A win by the host Venezuelan team meant their first Caribbean Series championship since 1989 while a loss would have led to a one-game playoff between the same two squads on Wednesday.
Moreno appeared in 49
games for Sacramento in
Oakland's system in 2005, where he was
selected to the Triple-A All-Star team. In fact,
Orioles' Miguel Tejada was at the
plate when the initial run came home on a damaging fielding error by Venezuelan
second baseman Marco Scutaro
(Oakland As) in the first inning. Tejada came around to score himself later in the frame. Jeremi Gonzalez (Mets) pitched well
overall, giving up these two unearned runs and two others in eight innings on
the mound for
Dominicans' rightfielder Timo Perez
(White Sox) tried to make an ill-advised shoestring catch off Franklin Gutierrez (Cleveland) in right during the
sixth. As the ball shot underneath his glove and rolled to the track, Scutaro
and the Orioles' new catcher Ramon Hernandez crossed the plate for
While this has nothing to do with the game, it is a good indication how things go in this environment. Between the sixth and seventh, a group of cameramen got into some kind of dispute with security guards as both warring camps spilled onto the field. They continued their disagreement on the field of play as players and umpires looked on. Bizarre.
The #9 hitter for the Dominican Republic, catcher Sandy Martinez (Mets), took the lead back two batters later with a solo home run, making the score 3-2 in the seventh. He had also doubled earlier in the contest.
Atlanta's and the Dominican Republic's Jorge Sosa came on again to try to earn the save in the bottom of the ninth with the home crowd cheering wildly against him. It was again bad for Sosa, as he blew his third save in five opportunities in the Series, though it wasn't all his fault this time.
Hernandez' single started it.
Cubs backup catcher Henry Blanco hit what looked to be a very catchable ball that apparently was lost in the lights before it dropped between leftfielder Napoleon Calzado (Baltimore) and shortstop Erick Aybar (Angels) to "cap" the improbable comeback. In fact, it looked as if the ball glanced off Aybar's head as he ran with his back toward the plate.
Hundreds of fans stormed the field even before Gonzalez could cross the plate with the Series-ending run for the Caracas Leones and the entire Venezuelan nation.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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