Caribbean Series: Criollos de Caguas Notch 5-2 Win Against Nicaragua In Opener

Juan Escarra (L), Jack Lopez (C) and Jancarlos Citron of Criollos de Caguas of Puerto Rico celebrate victory after a game between Nicaragua and Puerto Rico at loanDepot park as part of the Serie del Caribe 2024 on February 1, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The 2023-24 Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente champion Criollos de Caguas of Puerto Rico beat Nicaragua 5-2 in the first game of the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot Park on Thursday. 

The 2024 Caribbean Series is the first time that the tournament has been played at a Major League Baseball venue since the event started in 1949. 

Nicaragua played their first game of the Caribbean Series on Thursday, and has not played in a club tournament since the 2019 Latin American Series, when Leones de Leon, the champions of the 2018-19 Liga de Béisbol Profesional Nacional, appeared at the event and beat Tobis de Acayucan of the Liga Invernal Veracruzana 3-1 in the championship game. 

Criollos de Caguas manager Yadier Molina’s pitching staff allowed eight hits, two earned runs, five walks, and struck out 10 in the first game of the Caribbean Series. 

Marvin Benard’s pitching staff threw eight innings allowing 10 hits, five earned runs, five walks, and four strikeouts in Thursday’s loss for Nicaragua. Nicaragua starting pitcher Luis Ramirez faced 21 hitters, throwing 4.1 innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

Nicaragua got on the board first in the top of the second inning with third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert laced a double into left field, scoring first baseman Raudy Read. 

Puerto Rico evened the score in the bottom of the fifth inning with left fielder Danny Ortiz lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and Bryan Torres scored to tie the game. 

Puerto Rico added more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning starting with shortstop Jack Lopez ripping a triple into the right-center field gap scoring pinch hitter Helliot Ramos to go up 2-1. 

A few batters later, Vimael Machin roped a ground ball single into center field, scoring Torres to put Puerto Rico up 3-1, but he was tagged out attempting to go to second base when Nicaragua center fielder Jairus Richards threw to first baseman Raudy Read as the cut off man. Read then threw to second baseman Jesus Lopez to cut down Machin for the final out of the bottom of the sixth inning. 

During the top of the eighth, Nicaragua tallied another run to cut the lead to one when catcher Melvin Novoa laced a double to left field scoring pinch runner Jose Saul Orozco to make it 3-2. 

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Criollos’ offense added more insurance, starting when Ramos hit a single to left field and Emmanuel Rivera came into score to extend the lead to 4-2. 

A few batters later, pinch hitter Johneshwy Fargas lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Ramos to make it 5-2. 

Caguas relief pitcher Lincoln Henzman got Nicaragua right fielder Francisco Peguero to ground out into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game, as Puerto Rico beat Nicaragua 5-2 in the first game of the 2024 Caribbean Series. 

Nicaragua, at 0-1, will play the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Republic on Feb. 2 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN+. The Criollos de Caguas, at 1-0, will play the Naranjeros de Hermosillo at 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday on ESPN+.  All games during the 2024 Caribbean Series will be played at loanDepot Park.

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