Home plate umpire Alan Izaguirre of Mexico walks up the first base line after signalling for the tarp in the middle of the first inning. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
MERIDA, Mexico – A little sprinkle of rain quickly turned into a deluge, causing a nearly-three hour delay in the 1 p.m. matchup featuring the Alazanes de Granma of the Serie Nacional de Cuba and the Caimanes de Barranquilla before a full inning had been played.
The game just gotten under way when a light rain began to fall at Parque Kukulkan Alamo.
Seconds after Yordanys Samon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the top of the first, the rain came down harder and the home plate umpire, Alan Izaguirre of Mexico,
waved for the tarp. The grounds crew was never able to fully cover the infield, and the rain intensified for around 10 minutes, leaving the infield a large muddy puddle.
And while the rain cooled the air at the ballpark, it did nothing to cool the Caimanes’ bats. The Colombian entry in the baseball Champions League, who hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to start off the top of the first, and took the lead for good with a four-run fifth inning to beat the Alazanes de Granma 7-3.
After a nearly three-hour delay, Edwin Garcia came to the plate for Barranquilla and launched the second pitch he saw from Cuba’s Raymond Figueredo over the left field wall for a homer, giving Barranquilla a 1-0 lead. Gustavo Campero sent Figueredo’s next pitch in the Alazanes’ bullpen for a 2-0 Caimanes lead, and Jesus Valdez followed with a solo homer of his own to make it 3-0.
In the top of the third, Andres de la Cruz ripped a leadoff double up the middle for the Alazanes and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Anibal Medina followed with a single, driving in de la Cruz to get Granma on the board. Yoan Moreno singled to left and advanced Medina to second. Medina score on Raico Santos’ one-out RBI single, and then Moreno scored on Yordanis Samon’s sac fly to right field to tie the game at three apiece.
The Caimanes chased Figueredo from the after 3.1 innings and three earned runs, and he was replaced by Keniel Ferraz.
Barranquilla regained the lead when Edwin Robles scored on Gustavo Campero’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Barranquilla catcher Pabel Manzanero ripped a double to the left field corner off Granma’s Kelbis Rodriguez. Chasing after the ball, Alazanes left fielder Raico Santos lost his footing on the warning track and was injured, allowing three runs to score, while Manzanero, seeing Santos down on the warning track, held up at second.
That pinned the loss on Ferraz, who allowed four earned runs on two hits with two walks and a strikeout.
The Alazanes never threatened after the third, scattering just three hits over the remaining six innings of the game.
NOTEBOOK: With a 2-0 record and a run differential of +6 after defeating the Alazanes de Granma, the Caimanes de Barranquilla are all but assured all place in Sunday evening’s championship game at Parque Kukulcan Alamo. They’ll face the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. At 1-1, the Alazanes will face the Leones de Yucatan on Saturday night at 10 p.m. EDT.
SUPERLATIVES: Four Caimanes — Edwin Garcia, Gustavo Campero, Jesus Valdez, and Pabel Manzanero – had two hits each in the win. … Campero and Valdez each scored a pair of runs. …Manzanero was 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI for the Caimanes. He played eight seasons in the Cincinnati Reds organization, making it to Advanced-A Daytona in 2019. He spent 2023 with Oaxaca in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol and played the last two winter seasons in Colombia with the Vaqueros de Monteria.