Caribbean Series: Venezuela edges Puerto Rico 3-2

photo from Venezuela gets a win over Puerto Rico to improve to 3-0 in the Caribbean Series on Tuesday

February 4, 2020

By Lewis Rubman

Puerto Rico (1-2) 2 8 3

Venezuela (3-0) 3 3 0  ten innings

HATO REY, PUERTO RICO–The game that began last night at 8:06 Atlantic Time may well go down in history as one of the best ever played in the Caribbean Series. It also might be among the most controversial. The two, of course, are not mutually exclusive.

Going into the ninth inning, Adalberto Flores, Bradin Hagens, and NIcholas Padilla had limited Venezuela to one hit. But Venezuela had parlayed that fourth inning double by Alí Castillo into a run, and the resulting 1-0 lead had held up until the eighth, when Angelo Palumbo, their starting pitcher, walked Jan Hérnandez, who was sacrificed over to second by Roberto Peña, scored on Henry Ramos’s automatic double.

It wasn’t as though the team representing the island nation lacked scoring opportunities. They hit into inning ending double plays in the second, third, and fifth frames. In one of them the bases had been loaded, and in another there had been runners on first and second.

Most double plays come on well hit balls, but the one that had stymied Puerto Rico’s effort in the fifth was particularly ironic; it came on a hard line drive to second that didn’t give the runner a chance to return to the bag.

Both teams remained scoreless until the tenth, which was under the new rule that mandates that extra innings begin with a runner on second. Puerto Rico’s runner was Rey Fuentes, Carlos Beltrán’s cousin and also a journeyman who has seen big league action with San Diego, Kansas City, and Arizona.

He stayed put on second when David Vidal flew out to right, but he stole third while Jack López was at bat and scored on López’s single to center. Henry Ramos bunted for a hit, and everything seemed seemed in place to seal a victory for the islanders. But Iván de Jesús ground into a 6-4 force out of López, and now it was Venezuela’s to use the extra inning-extra runner rule.

Their runner was René Reyes. He stopped at third after Adonis García lined a single to right. Gorkys Hernández received an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a force out at home.

Juan Apodaca hit a sharp grounder to Emmanuel Rivera at third, who threw home for the force on Reyes. Santurce’s strategy was working! But then catcher Jonathan Morales overthrew first, allowing García and Hernández to score.

Venezuela had snatched its irons from the fire. Puerto Rico’s manager, José Valentín left the dugout to ask for a review, but the umpiring crew walked off the field. Replays showed that Apodaca had run out of the base line to first.

The loss was disappointing for Puerto Rico, not just because of the emotional cost of this roller coaster ride of a game or the team’s won-lost record falling to 1-2 but because their first baseman José Sermo was injured while striking out in his last, ninth inning, at bat and isńt expected to recover before the end of the series. After the game, Valentín commented, “We’ll just have to accept defeat like the men we are.”

Venezuela leads the Series pack at 3-0. The Dominican Republic and Mexico are tied for second at 2-1, followed by Puerto Rico and Panama, whose 1-2 mark ties them for fourth. Colombia trails the pack at 0-3.


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