Logo of the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. (Courtesy Centro Caribe Sports)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Venezuela won the bronze medal, beating World No. 10 Dominican Republic 8-7 in eight innings on the final day of the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Venezuela utility player Jose Garcia hit a game-ending two-run double to beat the Dominican Republic and win the bronze medal at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.
In the top of the first inning, the Dominican Republic’s Wildert Pujols launched a two-run double into the right center field gap and center fielder Ricardo Cespedes and designated hitter Carlos Paulino came in to score.
Dominican Republic starting pitcher Miguel Rosario threw two innings allowing two hits, two earned runs, walking one batter, and no strikeouts.
During the top of the third inning, the Dominican Republic made it 3-0 when Cespedes launched a solo home run over the right field wall.
Venezuela starting pitcher Ivan Andueza threw 2.1 innings, allowing three hits, three earned runs, walking two, and striking out three.
In the bottom of the third, the Venezuela offense scored five runs, starting with third baseman Junnel Ledezma’s sacrifice fly that scored Derwin Barreto. The next batter, right fielder Juan Infante, hit an infield single to score Jose Garcia. Venezuela first baseman Yoandy Rea grounded out to Dominican Republic shortstop Adrian Valerio, scoring Wuilman Velasquez to tie the game at 3-3.
Venezuela took the lead for the first time in the game when catcher Alex Monsalve cracked a double down the left field line, scoring right fielder Juan Infante. The next batter, designated hitter Jose Ortega, slapped an RBI single through the left side of the infield, scoring Monsalve to make it 5-3.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Dominican Republic took the lead once again. Third baseman Carlos Jimenez reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Darlin German. A few batters later, shortstop Adrian Valerio pounded a two-run home run over the right center field wall, scoring Jimenez for a 6-5 D.R. lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, before Barreto’s at-bat, the umpiring crew took a look at the Venezuela bat rack to check what bats they had that were legal to use for World Baseball Softball Confederation events. Venezuela had multiple KR3 bats that are not listed as one of the 44 legal wooden bats to use during World Baseball Softball Confederation events for U-18, U-23, and senior competitions. Nobody from Venezuela was thrown out of the game, though the dugout was warned not to use the illegal bats.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Venezuela tied the game up at six apiece as Junnel Ledezma drove an RBI single to left field as Barreto came in to score to tie the game up at 6-6.
During the top of the eighth inning, the Dominican Republic took the lead when third baseman Carlos Jimenez laid down a safety squeeze bunt on the first base line. Venezuela first baseman Jose Garcia rushed to first base to apply the tag and tried to throw home, but Seully Matias came into score to put up the D.R. up 7-6.
In the bottom of the eighth, Garcia roped a double past the outstretched glove of Dominican Republic center fielder Cespedes, and Sebastian Perrone and Anderson Melendez came in to score the tying and winning runs for Venezuela.
The Dominican Republic bullpen threw six innings allowing seven hits, three earned runs, walking four batters, and striking out five.
Venezuela’s bullpen threw 6.2 innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, walking four batters, and three strikeouts.
Venezuela relief pitcher Eduardo Paredes recorded the win, throwing two innings, allowing one hit, no earned runs, walking two batters, and striking out three.
The Dominican Republic has only medaled at the Pan American Games twice, winning gold during the 1955 games, beating the United States, and losing to Cuba in the gold medal game in San Juan in 1979.
Despite the Dominican Republic losing on Saturday against Venezuela in the bronze medal game, they will qualify for the Pan American Games because they are No. 10 in the World Baseball Rankings, right behind No. 7 Cuba, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 3 Mexico, and No. 2 the United States, which opted out of participating at the 2023 Pan American Games for the second consecutive event.
The Dominican Republic has medaled nine times at the Central American and Caribbean Games, with three gold medals in 2010, 1982, and 1962. The last time the Dominican Republic medaled at an international senior event was when they beat Korea in the bronze medal game of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics at Yokohama Stadium.
Rainout Gives Mexico Gold Medal At Central American and Caribbean Games
Mexico won the gold after finishing the opening round of the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games 5-1 when the gold medal game against Cuba was rained out on Saturday night.
Mexico won their first senior international event in their history, and medaled at the Central American and Caribbean Games for the 10th time, having previously earned bronze four times and silver six times. Mexico has previously won silver at the Baseball World Cup, losing in the gold medal game in 1943, 1944, 1961, and 1965, and finished third at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, losing to Japan in the semifinals at loanDepot park in Miami.
Mexico also won the bronze at the 2019 Premier 12, beating the United States in the bronze medal game to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Cuba has won 15 gold medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games, the most by any nation, and has medaled in their third consecutive event. Cuba has won silver three times at the games and won bronze in 1946 in Barranquilla, Colombia.
At No. 7 in the World Rankings, Cuba will enter the 2023 Pan American Games aiming for their 13th gold medal. Cuba has 15 total medals at the Pan American Games. The last time Cuba won gold was during the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beating the United States.
Cuba Beats Venezuela In Opening Round Finale
Cuba improved their record to 5-2 at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games beating (4-3) Venezuela 11-4 in the last game of the Opening Round on Saturday.
Cuba starting pitcher Jose Rodriguez threw three innings, allowing seven hits, three earned runs, walking one batter, and striking out three. Relievers Javier Mirabel and Naikel Cruz combined to pitch four innings, allowing three hits, no earned runs, and walking one Saturday.
The Venezuela bullpen did four innings of work, allowing 11 hits, seven earned runs, walking four, and striking out four.
In the bottom of the first, Cuba’s Yoelkis Guibert roped a double to the right center field gap, scoring third baseman Dayan Garcia for the first run of the game. A few batters later, first baseman Yasniel Gonzalez drove a single through the left side of the infield and Guibert came in to score, extending the lead to 2-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, Garcia hit a two-run single to right center field, scoring left fielder Raico Santos and center fielder Roel Santos to make it 4-0.
Venezuela starting pitcher Carlo Chourio was lifted in the bottom of the second inning, having thrown one inning, allowing three hits, three earned runs, and walking one.
A few batters later, designated hitter Yurisbel Gracial drove a two-run RBI single up the middle, scoring Garcia and shortstop Barbaro Arruebarruena as Cuba went up 7-0.
Venezuela did not get on the board until the top of the third inning, when designated hitter Jose Ortega ripped a double into the left center field gap scoring Darwin Barreto.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Arruebarruena launched a two-run home run over the left field wall scoring Guibert to make it 9-3.
Cuba ensured they would win a medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games for the first time since 2018, where they lost to Puerto Rico in the gold medal game in Barranquilla, Colombia.