AGUILAS DEL ZULIA (VENEZUELA) 4, CRIOLLOS DE CAGUAS (PUERTO RICO) 3
For most of this game, it seemed that the Aguilas would win their first game of this edition of the Caribbean Series (and first game ever against Caguas) quite easily. Zulia began the scoring with three runs in the top of the second inning while the Criollos were only able to respond with a single run in the bottom of the inning. A win by the Aguilas seemed even more inevitable after they picked up an insurance run in the fourth. However, Caguas reduced the deficit to only one run with a two-run bottom of the eighth and had the winning run at the plate when the game ended. Zulia began their Serie on a mostly positive note, but the fact they nearly lost the game in the late innings is cause for concern. While the Criollos' comeback was impressive, they are still 0-2, which is a deep hole for a team to dig out of in a four-game season.
Jose De La Torre (Criollos de Caguas,RP) - 1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB - De La Torre's 2017 Serie debut saw him keep all three baserunners he allowed on base from scoring.
Jesus Flores (Aguilas del Zulia, C) - 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB - The best offensive performance of the Aguilas' Serie opener came from their catcher batting in the seventh spot in the lineup. Flores accounted for half of Zulia's extra-base hits on Thursday and both of their RBI, both of which came on a second-inning home run.
David Vidal (Criollos de Caguas, 3B) - 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K - As impressive as Vidal's Serie opener on Wednesday was, he was even more impressive on Thursday as he not only doubled his game 1 hit and RBI totals, but also had an error-free day in the field. Through two games, David is 3-for-7 with two homers, three runs, and three RBI.
Omar Bencomo (Aguilas del Zulia, SP) - W, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R (earned), 2 BB, 6 K - Like many of the best outings so far in the Serie, Bencomo's effort was hardly efficient (six baserunners in five innings), but it was effective (only one run allowed).
Adalberto Flores (Caguas Criollos, SP) - L, 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R (2 earned), 1 HR allowed - The combination of Flores' subpar pitching and a lackluster defensive effort were too much for even a late-inning comeback paired with solid relief pitching (bullpen combined for five shutout innings and allowed only three hits).
AGUILAS DE MEXICALI (MEXICO) 7, TIGRES DEL LICEY (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC) 2
For the first two-thirds of the game, this looked like it would be the game where Licey would finally wake up from their jet lag and win a Caribbean Series game, or at least put forth a respectable effort. However, in the last three innings, they reverted back to whatever gear they were in on Wednesday (neutral?). First baseman Ronny Rodriguez, the lone current Indian playing in the Serie del Caribe, scored both of the Tigres runs on a hit and a walk in five plate appearances (he also struck out once). While not the best effort of Ronny-Rod's offseason, it was the best offensive performance from anyone in the Licey lineup last night. Mexicali, on the other hand, has solidified their position as a serious contender, if not the outright favorite, to win the Serie in their home country.
(CURRENT INDIAN RONNY RODRIGUEZ'S STATS AND RECAP IN GAME STORY ABOVE)
Anderson Hernandez (Tigres del Licey, 2B) - 0-2, 1 K, 1 Sac Bunt, 1 HBP - Hernandez had a productive out and got on base once. That's more than can be said for the two men who batted behind Anderson. If you don't remember Hernandez being mentioned in my Caribbean series preview column, it's because he wasn't. He was a late add to the Tigres roster, which stood at 27 (one below the Series roster limit) as of press time for that article.
Gabriel Arias (Tigres del Licey, RP) - 1.1 IP, 1 H - Arias got the final out in an ugly eighth inning and pitched a solid ninth to help bring this game to a merciful end for the Licey ballclub.
Warner Madrigal (Tigres del Licey, RP) - 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 K - Madrigal came into the game following the removal of starter Cesar Valdez (3 ER on 6 H in 4.1 IP) and kept the Tigres in a game that could easily have gotten out of control far earlier than it did.
Chris Roberson (Aguilas de Mexicali, CF) - 4-5, 2 R, 1 RBI - The Aguilas leadoff hitter came within one hit of a perfect day at the plate.
Jason Bourgeois (Aguilas de Mexicali, LF) - 3-4, 1 R, 2 3B, 2 RI, 1 Sac Bunt - There are many noteworthy aspects of the White Sox prospect's stat line, but the multi-triple game is easily the most impressive.
C.J. Retherford (Aguilas de Mexicali, 1B) - 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI - Retherford's two-run homer in the top of the seventh increased the Aguilas' lead to 6-2 and effectively put the game out of Licey's reach.
Luis Juarez (Aguilas de Mexicali, DH) - 3-4, 1 BB - Juarez rebounded nicely from a hitless Caribbean opener on Wednesday by getting on base four times in five plate appearances.
STANDINGS (TOP FOUR ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS)
Aguilas de Mexicali (Mexico) - 2-0
Alazanes de Granma (Cuba) - 1-0
Aguilas del Zulia (Venezuela) - 1-0
Criollos de Caguas (Puerto Rico) - 0-2
Tigres del Licey (Dominican Republic) - 0-2
TODAY'S SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EST. ALL GAMES ON ESPN DEPORTES)
Caguas vs. Granma - 5:00 PM
Zulia vs. Mexicali - 9:00 PM
Before wrapping up Day 2 from Culiacan, there is an off-the-field story that could become an on-the-field one this time next year. The Panamanian League has applied for reinstatement to the Caribbean Series beginning next season. If they are successful, the Panamanian champion would be participating in the Serie for the first time in 48 years.